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Training Tip: The low-down go-aroundTraining Tip: The low-down go-around

This landing’s going to be perfect—just the kind that will motivate your instructor to sign you off for that first solo. So it’s as much an annoyance as a surprise when, just as you ease into the flare, the CFI hollers, “Go around!”

Being instructed to make a go-around immediately before touch down might seem troublesome now but it could save you trouble later. Photo by Mike Fizer.

Boy, that’s annoying. I know because it was done to me.

So be consoled by two considerations. One is that competent performance of a go-around at such a delicate stage is a more convincing demonstration than another silky landing that you’re ready to solo. The other consideration is that although you are ticked off about it now, the time is likely to come when you thank the CFI for adding this special kind of balked landing training to your repertoire of quick-reaction skills.

There are many reasons why a go-around might be the best call even when your wheels are about to touch the ground. Someone could taxi out or drive a ground vehicle across the runway. A gust could destabilize your approach, or you could realize at the last second that a crosswind is too strong for a safe landing.

All those, of course, are reasons you would opt to go around from a somewhat higher altitude. So here’s another: A tower controller might command it for reasons unknown to you, and having experienced your instructor do that, you won’t freeze up.

Another scenario you may not have considered is going around after bouncing a landing. It could save you the drama, damage, and discouragement of a porpoising sequence—the frequent outcome when a student pilot or any other pilot carries a landing-gone-wrong too far.

At any height above the runway, a go-around demands clear thinking and precise technique, so take your time and get it right. If the airplane touches down during the execution of the maneuver, fine—maintain your directional control and don’t be distracted. The addition of power should be as smooth and measured—with enough rudder to offset left-turning tendency and enough elevator control to prevent your trimmed-for-landing trainer from extreme pitching—as any other go-around. Follow your trainer’s recommended balked-landing procedure and acquire a reasonable cushion of airspeed and altitude before maneuvering or announcing your actions. As always, aviating takes precedence over communicating.

Get comfortable with this important maneuver and the peace of mind it instills in your CFI will be nothing compared to what it does for you.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Takeoffs and Landings, Aeronautical Decision Making, Flight Training
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