Be Prepared To Go Around

Purdue University

Every time I turn final and select the last notch of flaps, I assume one of two things are going to happen: either I’m going to land or I’m not. I always keep in the back of my mind the thought that I might have to go around, for whatever reason. On occasion, even when the approach is set up perfectly and a successful landing seems certain, I go around anyway, just for the practice.

There could be any number of reasons why you as a pilot might elect to go around. You may realize your approach speed is too fast, you're not properly aligned with the runway, the wind is too strong or gusting unexpectedly or, as we saw in the video of the Cessna blundering across the active runway right in front of another airplane, you have no choice.

I can still recall my first go-around as a new private pilot that wasn't really necessary. A helicopter had just flown the approach at my non-towered home airport and stopped in a hover over the runway as I turned final. The helicopter pilot performed a pedal turn to the left and was slowly exiting the touchdown area as I was on short final. I decided that even though the helicopter traffic really was no factor I would perform a go-around anyway.

After I landed and shut down my instructor in the airport office asked why I had elected to abort the landing. “Just for practice,” I said. “That, and I got to fly an extra 5 minutes.” He smiled and nodded his head. Ever since that day, that’s how I view all go arounds: as the chance to fly a little longer. And that’s almost always a good thing.

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