Let’s assume you’ve exercised good patience and the airplane is fully configured and trimmed, climbing safely to the missed approach altitude. The initial climb, while close to the ground, is not the time to be figuring out which way to fly and to begin programming navigation equipment.
Nowadays, the average IFR-certified training airplane is equipped with the avionics to fly the approach and, at the same time, to have the missed approach navigation aids tuned and set. Use your approach briefing (while safely en route prior to the approach) as an opportunity to preprogram your avionics for the missed approach.
Make sure you are completely familiar with the process of sequencing your GPS receiver into the missed approach phase. All receivers require some pilot action, which consists of pushing a button, usually labeled “SUSP,” “OBS” or “G/A.” Some airplanes have a TOGA (take off and go around) switch that is also used to transition to the missed approach.
Here is some food for thought: Even if you are not flying a GPS or RNAV approach, you can have the approach loaded into the electronic flight plan for help during the missed approach procedure. The use of a properly sequenced GPS flight plan is especially helpful during complicated missed approach procedures with more than one navigational aid.
In addition to the preparation of your avionics, make sure your mind is prepared as well. When performing your approach briefing, review the entire missed approach procedure. It is a bit optimistic to commit the entire procedure to memory, but at a minimum remember the first step of the missed approach.
While there is the occasional exception to the rule, communicating with ATC always comes in third place behind controlling the aircraft and navigating safely. My students are always in a rush to report the missed approach, sometimes even doing this before the climb has been initiated!
The question is: Are you ready to listen to what ATC is about to tell you?
If I am playing the role of ATC for my students when they report too soon (in the simulator), I seize the opportunity to assign a new communication frequency along with modified missed approach instructions. This results in degradation of aircraft control and loss of situational awareness. I don’t do this for my amusement, of course, but it sure leads to a very beneficial debriefing during which the student relearns the importance of aircraft control and workload prioritization.
With a little patience and a firm respect for this manner of workload prioritization, you will be fully prepared for your next missed approach.
Matthew Golden was the 2007 Arizona Flight Instructor of the Year. He holds Airplane Land and Sea ratings, Flight and Ground Instructor certificates, a type rating for the CRJ-700, an Aircraft Dispatcher certificate, and a graduate certificate in Instructional System Design. For nearly a decade, he has served as a flight instructor, check instructor and professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.