How Do You Do a Go Around?

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I've always thought that flight instruction divides itself into three broad camps: Soviet style, ad hoc and something in between. Soviet style implies rigid adherence to the syllabus and checklist and no improvisation. At its most radical, ad hoc instruction—or flying for that matter—devolves to reducing flying to the level of driving a car, which isn't all bad. I sometimes think we make it harder than it needs to be. Personally, I'm mostly in the middle camp; I take one from column A and one from column B as the situation warrants.

But I recently discovered I'm a Red Star-festooned Bolshevik when it comes to at least one topic: how to do a go around. This came to light when I was reviewing the July issue of Aviation Safety, one of our sister magazines. The discussion involved the best way to perform a go around—apply all the power available at once, set the pitch value and then retrim or apply some of the power to arrest the descent, retrim, clean up the airplane then add the rest of the power. The logic of the latter approach is that by doing things piecemeal, you avoid potential trim-induced high pitch-up forces that could lead to loss of control.

This is definitely not old school stuff, but is somewhat Cessna-centric in response to what's generally known as a trim-tab stall. This phenomenon seems most pronounced in 172s and 182s, but all of the Cessna highwings exhibit it to some degree. If the airplane is trimmed for a stable airspeed with full flaps, applying full power from the approach configuration will cause a strong pitch up that requires no small effort by the pilot to resist. So some time during the 1970s I'd guess, the idea of two-stage power application emerged as an alternate method of executing a go around. It's not that it's a bad idea when applied to Cessnas, but it crept into the training doctrine and found wider application, although I'm not sure how many instructors teach it that way. To me, it makes no sense.

Most of my instruction-given is instrument work in high-performance aircraft. This has caused me to follow ad hoc thinking with regard to setting up the approach configuration. Personally, in a single like a Mooney or a Bonanza, I prefer to fly an instrument approach relatively fast—about 110 knots—with no flaps. At glideslope intercept, I lower the gear and use the drag as a baseline for the descent. At the missed approach—planned or otherwise—the go around requires only application of full power, pitch up and retraction of the gear. There's no flap retraction and very little trim change.

I arrived at this method after watching so many students make a Keystone Cops skit out of the go around, sometimes retracting the gear first or applying half power, then going for the gear and flaps, then back to the power. An instrument instructor doesn't have to assume control of the airplane much, but I'd guess most of the times I had to related to airplanes wallowing around near the ground on a go around with too little power while the pilot fooled with the gear and flaps. Some pilots prefer lower speeds and partial flaps for instrument approaches and when I instructed such pilots, I counseled them to do whatever felt most comfortable. There's no always right or always wrong to this. Well, maybe with the exception of power application when the go around decision has been made.

If there's an argument for a Pavlovian response in anything related to flying, the go around might be it. Only one thing will make the airplane go up hill and that's power. I can't ever recall having too much of it, nor wanting to put less air more slowly between me and the ground. So for me, the go around starts with full power.

Visual go arounds aren't much different except that they are often done from much lower altitudes which would seem to make the need for maximum power application all the more urgent. Not many airplanes confront the pilot with unmanageable pitch force changes with power application. Cessnas may be the worst in this regard. But there's always some risk in thinking that a crutch method that works for one type should be applied to everything. That's not the case.

By the way, every month we review 100 to 200 accidents for our Used Aircraft Guides. I can't recall ever seeing any Cessna accidents that even remotely looked like they could have been trim-tab stalls. I do know directly of one that occurred in 1986, but overall, I think the risk resides largely in theory.

Comments (67)

My method (and teaching style) is full application of power then clean. I remind students that are worried about the "dance" between power/flaps/gear to initially just get the flaps to the short field setting - i.e. the Piper series at flaps 25 (two notches extended), The C182 at 20 degrees, etc. I remind them that on a takeoff with the gear down at flaps X, the aircraft is in a certified climb configuration so DON'T RUSH and maintain positive control.

I fly IFR approach speeds of 100kts, and use first flap setting (if approved) in any single larger than a 172RG. Same theory in a missed app - we're at the short field takeoff config. Runway in sight we configue the final flaps. Which although I've been doing it that way for 22 years, is contrary to my airline flying days in which we are fully configured after crossing the FAF. The continued application of flaps and subsequent decrease in speed (from 100k approach to 70k say in a C172) after getting runway in sight is by definition an unstable approach! Again, that's how I do it in a prop single/twin and the difference in technique between 121 and 91 always gives me grief.

Posted by: Shannon Forrest | June 17, 2012 4:14 PM    Report this comment

Those of us who fly somewhat overpowered singles face a potential additional problem with the go around. It is the question of having sufficient rudder control to overcome the torque impulse of adding a lot of power quickly. When you add to this issue the low speed and close to the ground situation I find a slow introduction of power in the go around a better choice than jamming the throttle to the firewall.

This may not be a problem for certified planes. They have incredibly docile behavior as a matter of regulatory design. For experimental plane pilots the world is a different place. I have always been concerned about the torque/rudder authority issue for go arounds, and I have survived them all so far. I like to do the 1/2 power, clean up the plane in level flight, and then full power for the climb out.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | June 18, 2012 6:37 AM    Report this comment

Our favorite local DPE likes to say that go-arounds, power off stall recoveries and missed approaches are all the same maneuver. Some of my students have made the mistake of retracting flaps before adding full power on a go-around, but they usually only make it once. The picture of the plane sinking toward the obstacle they're trying to avoid tends to stick with them.

I've never been able to get a student pilot to trim enough in the pattern to have to worry about an elevator trim stall on a go-around. This problem usually presents itself during engine out drill, where my Bolshevik procedure is to establish AND TRIM for best glide airspeed. I have to remind them that they have a boatload of nose up trim and will need to hold the nose down when they recover.

The biggest problem I have with teaching go-arounds is on the 172 with 40° of flaps. My procedure there is to add full power, raise the nose to level only, retract the last 10° of flaps and then think about climbing out. These planes just won't climb with all 40° of flaps in, which probably explains why the later models were limited to 30°.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | June 18, 2012 6:37 AM    Report this comment

I once saw a Mooney pilot attempt to make multiple landings at the Sussex County airshow (NJ) years ago. It was clear he didn't use the Gumps checklist. It sounded like his prop was still way back in cruise on go around. He had passengers in the plane and it was hot outside. Everytime he tried to go around (3 times) the plane seemed to wallow on the edge of a stall with the wings rolling back and forth. He just couldn't get climb performance with the prop still back in the cruise position. Gumps before downwind, base and final is my preference. Trim is last on the go around. Go to gym if you can't fight it. I heard the FAA was there and saw the whole thing. He eventually landed.

Posted by: DAVID AFFINITO | June 18, 2012 7:19 AM    Report this comment

The following comment addresses a related issue. When flying with TBO (Trained by Others) pilots for the first time, it never ceases to amaze me how many pilots react to a control tower instruction to "go around" by keying the transmitter microphone and... talking! When challenged by the old fart in the right seat, they inevitably protest "but I HAVE TO acknowledge that I heard the tower's instructions!" That's when I politely suggest that the very best acknowledgement that the tower can witness is the sight of your airplane clawing its way back into the big blue sky. Power; pitch; configuration; THEN talk (if necessary). I reinforce this by telling the tale of a renowned pilot "who sounded great - right up to the point of impact."

Much of this discussion revolves around transitioning from a dirty descent to an enthusiastic climb - but maintaining control of the vehicle while doing so. This is a classic case of "don't manufacture an emergency from a normal situation."

With my own students, I teach go-arounds that cover a spectrum from missed approaches to aborted landings from deep into the flare. Crawl; walk; run. And practice, for a lifetime.

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | June 18, 2012 7:19 AM    Report this comment

Paul Mulwitz might have mentioned not only the yaw problems of high powered prop aircraft, but also the full effects of authentic torque-stall.

I think this is defined by the accelerating engine literally rolling the aircraft in the opposite direction to the rotation of the propeller. It kills pilots when they try to go round in aircraft like the P-51.

Professionals may know if the down-going wing in this event actually achieves a stalling angle of attack or whether just the roll itself is too much for the unaware pilot.

Posted by: R L S Butler | June 18, 2012 7:24 AM    Report this comment

I have about 300 hours in C152s and C172s. I was taught to apply full power, follow up by pushing the yoke to set a normal-looking climb attitude and compensate for the pitch-up on throttle-up, right rudder as required to maintain coordinated flight, flaps 20 degrees, trim to relieve yoke pressure, achieve positive rate of climb, and then raise the flaps slowly while trimming for best rate or angle of climb as the situation required. I was also taught that if a go around seemed at all likely then keeping the flaps to 20 degrees max would make things easier and less risky in a go-around. None of my instructors ever advocated a step-wise approach to full power. My recollection (not having flown much since avgas went over $5/gallon) is that the amount of yoke pressure required to hold the nose down on initial throttle-up seemed very unusual, but if you practice it enough times, you learn to anticipate what that feels like.

Posted by: Chip Fleming | June 18, 2012 7:35 AM    Report this comment

Go-around technique varies with the airplane. Most of the planes I fly seem to respond well to the add power and bring the flaps up by degrees, with some it would be nice to have a third hand for the trim. Whenver I get to fly a new type, a review of the go-around procedure is high on my list. Years ago when I bought my clip-wing Monocoupe (small wing, tiny ailerons)the former owner told me to take it up a few thousand feet, slow it to approach speed and firewall it. It torque rolled right over on it's back. I learned to bring the power up gently and that at 2000 rpm it would climb quite well, then bring on more power as the aileron control increased with speed.

Posted by: Richard Montague | June 18, 2012 8:07 AM    Report this comment

One of John Deakin's last columns for Avweb covered this subject. He had checked out a pilot in a P-51 and on his initial solo the trainee did a go around. He applied full power in one go, the plane rolled right over and screwed in. John was very shaken by this experience and devoted a column to advocating for the two-step approach to the go around/missed approach.

I've flown Cessnas (owned one for awhile) and did my Commercial in a Mooney and I've seen what full power can do if the trim is rolled way back. Not pretty, if you don't push hard on the yoke on the initial go. I currently fly an Archer, which doesn't much care what you do on the missed -- very benign.

After reading John Deakin's piece I started using the two step approach and like it a lot. It's a very measured way to declare the missed, stop the descent, clean up the plane and then execute the plan.

The final task on my Commercial was a short field landing over a 50 foot obstacle in the Mooney. The examiner wanted me to land and make the first turn off. To do it I had to roll the trim all the way back, drop the gear and carry enough power to control the descent at minimum airspeed. I threaded the needle and made the landing, but if I had decided to go around I would most definitely not have wanted to apply max power at 50 feet in that configuration.

Posted by: JAMES GRANT | June 18, 2012 8:09 AM    Report this comment

It depends upon what you are flying and to some extent the flap configuration. While training in the PAY2 that I normally fly, with 2 souls and 1/2 fuel, I don't expect to need full power to go around. I use enough power to stop the descent without losing airspeed, achieve postive rate of climb, go to approach flaps and raise the gear and then adjust power as necessary (+ trim, of course). In a 172 with 3/4's fuel and two big pilots, this might be full power.

I once did an actual go around in a 172 with 3 large folks on board by applying full power with full flaps applied. The Kiwi pilot in the right seat made some comments about how Americans flew but it did stop the descent and started the climb before I retracted the flaps. However, it was a 180HP 172 which I am sure made all the difference.


Posted by: William Zollinger | June 18, 2012 9:01 AM    Report this comment

I'm fairly sure the skillful and experienced pilots here advocating that all the power be applied all at once would not do such a thing suddenly or abruptly except in an emergency. Most go-around decisions are not or should not be panicky ones. By all means put apply full power before adjusting trim, but this power application should be gradual. You want to be kind to your engine and you don't want to risk a rich cut. If when doing this you are flying a nose heavy Cessna 182 I suggest you might naturally break off this application of power half way through to give the trim wheel a twirl before immediately returning to the task in hand - going around. That requires power. But best, save in an emergency, to keep the control forces low. A go around is rarely an emergency.

Posted by: Paul Beardsell | June 18, 2012 9:07 AM    Report this comment

By word of explanation to my post: Because, if you're in a nose heavy 182 you will have the trim wheel all the way back on approach, and the control forces will be too much once full power is applied for the go around except for the brawniest of us.

Posted by: Paul Beardsell | June 18, 2012 9:17 AM    Report this comment

Re the short field landing: If one really is way behind the drag curve on approach at 50ft in a heavily loaded Mooney then any go around will probably include the wheels touching the ground! You are committed to land before landing in such a situation. The go no-go decision must be made earlier - perhaps at 300ft.

Posted by: Paul Beardsell | June 18, 2012 9:19 AM    Report this comment

And, controversially perhaps, but factually: If you are at Vy or higher and retract the flaps before applying throttle there need be no increase in rate of descent: Best glide is without flaps [in almost all aircraft]. Just pay attention to your nose attitude. In a C172, for example, retract flaps and raise the nose and there will be no increased sink, if you are at or above Vy. OK, you have to do this in a coordinated fashion, and it's not something to teach a newbie, and you still are best applying power first if you want to go around, so I am a little off topic, but the assertions regularly made that dangerous (or any) sink need arise from reduction of flap is wrong.

Posted by: Paul Beardsell | June 18, 2012 9:26 AM    Report this comment

Try doing a go-around on a turboprop twin with one engine out! I think that with the variety of aircraft out there it would be impossible to say one method of executing a go-around or missed approach works for all. I learned that early in my flying career as I moved up to higher performing aircraft.

Posted by: matthew wagner | June 18, 2012 9:50 AM    Report this comment

1st, always know the characteristics of the plane you are flying. 2nd, clearly understand what the immediate goal is. 3rd, know how to achieve that goal. For an IFR go around the first thing to do is stop the descent. How? Add some power. Usually either 2,000 rpm or 20" mp. Now the plane is fully under control, not descending and most likely in a slight climb. Change nothing else at this point. Take inventory! How's my airspeed? How's my climb rate? How's my heading? I have now bought some time so I can easily make the necessary adjustments of power, trim, gears and flaps to achieve my next goal, climb to missed approach altitude.

I teach a four step process to be used when things aren't going right. 1st, stop the plane from doing what you don't want it to do. (Usually means adjusting power and leveling the wings) 2nd, take inventory of airspeed, ROC (+ or -), power setting, etc. 3rd, plan what you need to do to get to where you want to be. 4th, execute your plan.

Posted by: Larry Koch | June 18, 2012 10:40 AM    Report this comment

It seems that there are semi-planed go-arounds (missed approach etc) and unplanned go-arounds such as from a bounce. In the latter we don't need a sudden application of power to make an already nearly out of control situation worse. However we do need power. let's get it in smoothly, then clean up. Regarding the P-51 another analysis is that uncontrolled yaw to the left causes gyroscopic roll. So aircraft control during any go-around is critical. Yaw and pitch, fly the airplane.

Posted by: GENNARO AVOLIO | June 18, 2012 10:51 AM    Report this comment

I would say there's two kinds of go-arounds. If you're at a couple hundred feet and decide, this just doesn't look good, let's try it again--adding power step-wise in your nose-heavy full-trimmed 182 makes sense, trimming away some of the control forces. If you're about 20 feet above the ground and an elk runs onto the field, full power ASAP is definitely the way to go, but you'd better have experienced the control forces and pitch up in a practice scenario first . . .

Posted by: DAVID CHULJIAN | June 18, 2012 11:22 AM    Report this comment

What does, "retracting the flaps without adding power and there will be no INCREASE in sink rate" mean? I think the idea on a go around is to stop the sink rate and, in fact, reverse it.

My "usual" training is in a turbo prop with one "failed" engine. My procedure is the same, stop the descent without losing airspeed and with positive rate of climb, go to approach flaps and then retract the landing gear, trim, adjust power, climb to miss altitude and start navigating for same.


Posted by: William Zollinger | June 18, 2012 11:38 AM    Report this comment

I recently transitioned from flying a 172 to a 182. I had some problems with landings so I went and flew with one of my partners to experiment with pitch/power/trim at a nice safe altitude.

Using landing configuration (full aft trim, ~30 deg flaps) the plane pitches up tremendously but does not stall with the CG forward. It does not take much pressure to get the nose down somewhat -- it takes a lot to get the nose down to the attitude I would usually use in climb-out, but it is safe to leave the nose somewhat high while you re-trim and raise flaps. I'm sure it would be different with the CG aft.

I'm writing this to suggest nothing beats experimenting with the trim tab stall and go around procedures at a nice safe altitude BEFORE you need to actually pdrform a go-around, esp in a new airplane.

Posted by: D. M. Perry | June 18, 2012 12:14 PM    Report this comment

Hmmm seems I should stay with my docile SEP with fixed everything PA28. No problems with go-arounds and sometimes do it just for the hell of it. Full power stop the sink, then with positive climb retract flaps in stages. Works when landing at 5000' (Charles Prince or Johannesburg) and at sea level.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | June 18, 2012 1:23 PM    Report this comment

One of the major issues is the infrequent nature of go-arounds and hence the surprise factor. During initial TOL training instructors will focus on landings not go-arounds. My technique is to have the student go around 30-40% of the time so that it's "normal" and practiced.

A typical common briefing might be "this will be a visual approach to landing on runway 13, and if we're not stable within 500' we will go around" verses "This will be a visual approach to runway 13 with a go around unless the airspeed is with 5 of ref, on glidepath, etc." We need to eliminate the expectancy factor associated with landing. In other words, plan on going around on every landing unless we have all parameters in tolerance. Doing so takes advantage of the principle of the framing effect and expectation bias.

Posted by: Shannon Forrest | June 18, 2012 1:38 PM    Report this comment

Bruce, Your comment is a testament to the docile flight characteristics of the PA-28. This is an underrated plane and has been for a long time. It is not very exciting to fly -- and that is a good thing if you are a part time pilot and more concerned with safety than other qualities of an airplane.

The Cherokee is easy to fly, easy to land, and generally easy for all pilot activities. The same can be said for the Arrow - the complex version of the PA-28. Both are still in production - unlike many of their competitors over the years. While airplanes have never been really low priced these are economical versions of single engine airplanes whether purchased new or used.

As many have said in this exchange, the best procedure for a go-around varies with the aircraft choice. In a PA-28 you can probably use any of the procedures and walk away from the experience. In other, more demanding, aircraft your choices will be much fewer.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | June 18, 2012 1:46 PM    Report this comment

Years ago I either read or heard the axiom that every approach should be flown with the expectation of making a go-around, then if everything looks good as you cross the numbers, land.

Posted by: Richard Montague | June 18, 2012 2:15 PM    Report this comment

Thank you Paul M. most appreciated. My training with jets and helicopter was with the RRAF (Rhodesia now Zimbabwe) used to fly Tripacer's and sometimes PA28's privately belonging to farmer friends of mine, had many go-arounds with them especially at night with only the car lights to give me a ground reference. The same technique was used, smooth action full power (you don't want to hit the buck on the runway) when there is positive climb clean up in stages (you don't know where the trees are and you definitively don't want to sink into them)all the while the farmer is out drunk beside you. Yes Richard you learn that lesson quickly when the only indication you get is a pair of reflected eyes in front as the buck (Sable or Eland sometimes the odd cow) lift their heads to look at you. You see the outline as you are going over it and the animal suddenly moves and takes flight.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | June 18, 2012 3:15 PM    Report this comment

It has been written more than once here now: Go for positive rate of climb before going for clean config? No. That advice is for take offs not for the go around. Your airframe is likely cleaner in take off config than it is for landing. In the go around you nail Vy (or Vx if constrained by terrain). If that means you are still sinking (hot and high) let that not be because you still have the flaps out and the gear up. Get to and hold Vy whatever the config and do not delay removing any drag whatever the rate of climb or sink is. Hot and high (or on only one engine) you might never stop sinking if your airframe config is dirty.

Posted by: Paul Beardsell | June 18, 2012 3:54 PM    Report this comment

A wise instructor once told me of the Cessna 152 at Camden NSW which plowed into the trees on the go around with 40 degs flaps. That pilot is still waiting for a positive rate of climb with his hand ready on the retract switch.

Posted by: Paul Beardsell | June 18, 2012 3:59 PM    Report this comment

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The aircraft that I fly are just as clean for landing as for take-off (and lighter)unless and until I am committed to the landing. Once committed to the landing, I am going to land regardless of the animal or truck or whatever on the runway.

I have always used flaps for take-off in SE aircraft (except for practice) under the theory that the sooner the aircraft flies, the sooner it is in its' natural element with less wear and tear on it. I understand that the "performance" charts suggest various "other" uses of flaps and speeds but so far (13,000 + hours) have never had to consider those seriously. I also use flaps on many multi-engined aircraft to include the 337, BE20,various Citations, etc. for take-off. Therefore the aircraft is not "less clean" and no doubt lighter during the approach than for take-off.

Someone already made the point about knowing your aircraft and that is essential, of course.


Posted by: William Zollinger | June 18, 2012 5:15 PM    Report this comment

Just hit the reset button.

Posted by: kent tarver | June 18, 2012 10:16 PM    Report this comment

"PU PU CU" Power up; Pitch up. Clean Up.

Works for me and my 170. Thanks John -- Mary Ann

Posted by: Mary Ann Lebold | June 18, 2012 11:19 PM    Report this comment

I was always drilled that you have to eat the first 20 degrees flap in a go-around - then nurse the rest out asyou get positive rate. Has always worked for me.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | June 19, 2012 4:25 AM    Report this comment

We do not want to enter the world of technical explanations. The wing with max flaps is in a state of max lift with max drag at 1.4Vs. This state will continue down to Vs. Take away the drag by reducing one notch flaps will also reduce the amount of lift being generated. The amount of lift lost in this situation is aircraft dependant.

So the variables are:
1) ground proximity ,
2) Speed,
3) length left to the runway,
4) length left to obstruction (the reason for the go around) and
5) the amount of sink to be expected.

Fortunately the human brain can compute all this in pico seconds and every time will have the correct answer. Trust it in those situations it will have your best interests at heart so it won't make a mistake. It's when we fail to trust ourselves that we have problems.

Enjoy making a hole in the sky

Posted by: Bruce Savage | June 19, 2012 4:28 AM    Report this comment

Paul Beardsell wrote - "but the assertions regularly made that dangerous (or any) sink need arise from reduction of flap is wrong."

I don't know who you are or if you teach, but the way I teach go-arounds is from the flare. I've noticed that new students tend to accept whatever is happening in the flare are reluctant to go-around in the process of rounding out even if something is horribly wrong, so this is where I make them go around. If you retract flaps all the way even after adding power on most popular trainers, you will touch the runway.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | June 19, 2012 6:20 AM    Report this comment

You only quote me partially. In the flare you will be well below Vy. I said there need be no sink when retracting flaps at Vy as long as the nose attitude is raised in a coordinated fashion. Fact. I don't know who you are either. Try it for yourself.

The advice elsewhere here "PU PU CU" is flawed. Power up? Yes. But then ensure you are at Vy or at least Vx before you pitch up. If you are on finals and behind the drag curve that advice to PU pitch up before regaining safe speed could kill you.

Posted by: Paul Beardsell | June 19, 2012 6:41 AM    Report this comment

In (almost) all aircraft best rate of climb at both Vx and Vy is with zero flaps. If only at Vs FIRST gain speed. Do not raise the nose. At Vy (or at Vx if constrained by terrain) remove all remaining flap and raise the nose to prevent sink. You will not sink if you raise the nose. Nail your speed.

Posted by: Paul Beardsell | June 19, 2012 6:56 AM    Report this comment

"I've noticed that new students tend to accept whatever is happening in the flare are reluctant to go-around in the process of rounding out even if something is horribly wrong, so this is where I make them go around. If you retract flaps all the way even after adding power on most popular trainers, you will touch the runway."

It's not just new students. The oft-cited reason for the go around from the flare is the imaginary moose on the runway. But the real-world best reason is to recover a landing that's gone irretrievably wrong. These happen every day.

Runway loss of control is the leading cause of accidents and having read about so many of them, I am convinced that timely go arounds in place of trying to save the unsavable is a critical skill, hence learn to go around from the flare. And I don't see how partial power, two-step actions will work there.

There's probably a good research project or article in this topic.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 19, 2012 7:19 AM    Report this comment

Years ago I delivered a plane to Endless Mountains, PA and was given a ride in a 172 to College Park, MD where I had to pick up another aircraft. I learned better but they had two pilots and I foolishly got into the back seat. Off we went. The first clue that something might be amiss was the fact that we were at the wrong altitude for SE bound. I asked that we either climb 1,000 feet or descend to be closer to the ground. We climbed 1,000 feet.

We got to CGS which is plenty long at 2,600 feet for a 172 but the guy in the left seat managed to be high and fast and "finally" the guy in the right seat said go around. We weren't climbing and there were trees coming up ahead. I reached up and gently rapped the right hand guy on the head with my knuckles and said, "flaps". He partially raised them and we went through the top of the trees.

The next approach was "on speed" and we landed OK. They had to remove some "tree remains" from the landing gear but no real harm to the aircraft was done. I later found out the guy in the right seat was a low time CFI and the guy in the left seat was a student. I promised myself to never ride in the back unless I knew the crew.


Posted by: William Zollinger | June 19, 2012 7:46 AM    Report this comment

When in doubt, use the method reccommended by the POH, if it works, great, if not you or your estate can always sue.

Posted by: Richard Montague | June 19, 2012 7:50 AM    Report this comment

When in doubt, use the method reccommended by the POH, if it works, great, if not you or your estate can always sue.

Posted by: Richard Montague | June 19, 2012 7:50 AM    Report this comment

Paul B.

I wonder if you have been considering the comments from the other folks here. Your comment: "I don't see how partial power, two-step actions will work there" should include "in a typical trainer". In some planes immediate application of full power will certainly result in flipping upside down onto the runway.

It may be difficult to fathom, but the truth is we don't all fly trainers or planes that fly like trainers.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | June 19, 2012 9:47 AM    Report this comment

"In some planes immediate application of full power will certainly result in flipping upside down onto the runway."

Show me. Cite an accident where this happened with other than a warbird. Maybe something like a Glasair or Lancair with a 540, but even then, I doubt there's enough torque to roll it. You might get some yawing, correctable with rudder.

Let's take something that isn't a trainer. An SR22, for example. Or a hotrod like the Mooney TLS. Or even something bigger, like a TBM or a Caravan, both with over 600 horsepower. I've flown both of these in the last two months.

Smooth application of full power within bugged torque limits will not cause loss of control. It just won't. What it will do is get your butt out of a low drag, low speed situation that's about to cause a wing to drop because of a stall. The subsequent cartwheel could have been avoided.

These are common accident scenarios, Paul. They happen every day. What does not happen is airplanes torque rolling off the runway because of power application. Mustangs and Corsairs excepted.

I've just reviewed 207 Cessna 185 accidents. With the 520, the Skywagon has a lot of torque. Thirty nine percent of the accidents were groundloops of some kind, another 5 percent within that group were loss of control in the flare or otherwise failing to catch a landing gone bad with a go around.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 19, 2012 10:36 AM    Report this comment

The "PU PU CU" generally works, except when you're too slow, or too low. This may be a reason William Z said "Once committed to the landing, I am going to land regardless of the animal or truck or whatever on the runway". However, this is a concerning statement, and is probably one of the big reasons there are as many landing accidents as there are.

Paul B says "I am convinced that timely go arounds in place of trying to save the unsavable is a critical skill, hence learn to go around from the flare", and I agree. What happens when you have a safely saveable landing, but then you either botch that or get a gust of wind/whatever that causes it to now be an unsaveable landing? You're probably going to be pretty low and slow at that point.

I think the problem is trying to take general rules like "PU PU CU" and apply them to all situations, even ones that don't make sense. I've had to go-around late enough in the landing process that it required an immediate application of full power (but still applied smoothly) and pitch FORWARD to stay in ground-effect long enough to build up a safe speed before climbing out.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | June 19, 2012 11:04 AM    Report this comment

Paul B.

I think we are really in agreement. We just talk about our own flying environments differently. You are limiting yourself to standard category certified planes. In that domain you are probably completely correct about smooth application of full power.

In the area of war birds and some over-powered experimental aircraft the operating procedures are necessarily different. In many of these cases it just doesn't take full power to arrest a descent and start climbing no matter what sort of stuff you have hanging out. Even in certified planes like a C-182 when lightly loaded it just doesn't take full power to initiate a go-around. Of course it will jump higher faster if you use full power, but that is not necessarily the goal. If you just want to abort the approach then something like half power will do it just fine.

I remember one mistake I made flying solo in a 182 performing a touch and go. I forgot to raise the full flaps. When I applied full power the plane immediately jumped about 300 feet into the air. This was not a safety issue but it was also not the required performance.

I just think we should all fly our planes according to the requirements for that plane under those conditions. Different planes fly so differently there just isn't one answer that fits them all.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | June 19, 2012 12:01 PM    Report this comment

Just for the hell of it, I pulled down some POHs from the top shelf of my office, where I have dozens. Picked some at random:

Mooney M20R balked landing: Power: Full forward; To minimize control wheel forces during GO-AROUND, timely nosedown trimming is recommended to counteract nose up pitching moment as power is applied.

Cessna 182: Balked Landing: Full throttle and 2600 RPM, carb heat cold, retract flaps to 20 degrees. (Interesting...I'd have done the flaps before carb heat.)

Turbo Saratoga SP: To initiate go around from a landing approach, , the propellor control should be set to full increase and the power should be set to maximum not to exceed 36 in. MAP.

None of them really deal with the missed approach scenario, since that goes under training doctrine. Point being, for most GA airplanes, the procedure seems to be the same. Use all the power.

I think one could reasonably depart from that for the MAP. I just prefer not to.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 19, 2012 12:30 PM    Report this comment

Well ... considering that we have all done a fair bit of flying, I'm sure there has been many go arounds in your life time and it seems we are all here to tell the tails. Me thinks that call for a round of applause and to give ourselves 10 points and a marie biscuit.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | June 19, 2012 12:36 PM    Report this comment

For me, low and vulnerable, a gust of wind, miscalculation of density altitude, misread of the treeline, runway, etc. all convince me for smooth application of full power on go-around, then adjust pitch and cleanup. I should know my aircraft from diligent stall practice at altitude if it's too dangerous for go-arounds. Power is the get-out-of-jail card, the sweet elixir of safe flight we all have available.

On another note, though I understand the rationale of reversed expectation bias and some here advocating the expectation of a go-around rather than a good landing, I am happy my instructors felt as I do to practice and develop the skills for a go-around, stall recovery and the like, but never to expect to do one. That adds complication and the possibility of negative emotions for some students and is something I would never, ever use in my field of work. We don't find the principle of life by contemplating death.

Bruce, I've looked high and low for a freakin' marie biscuit but to no avail. You're just going to have to send me one of your tea biscuits I guess or I'll have to settle for my Safeway sweet roll.

Posted by: David Miller | June 19, 2012 1:11 PM    Report this comment

LOL Dave the marie biscuit is a South African only biscuit similar to an English rich tea biscuit but with more vanilla in it. Ok for the Safeway sweet roll if that's your fancy ;. Have a good one

Posted by: Bruce Savage | June 19, 2012 2:19 PM    Report this comment

So, Gary Baluha, you are willing to go around when below Vmc? I try to be as close to a stall when inches from the runway as I can be and with full flaps. I am not mentally committed to the landing so long as I have altitude beneath me although I wish to be very aware of every condition extant. If on one engine (of two), once I do committ to the landing I am either going to land or have enough altitude beneath me to be able to achieve Vxse or better. If not, I am landing. I do not committ to the landing when at 500 agl and 1 mile final but, at some point, one does have to slow down or "drive it on", something I am not willing to do.


Posted by: William Zollinger | June 19, 2012 2:32 PM    Report this comment

Well sure, at some point it quits being a landing and is instead the start of the ground roll, if that's what you meant. Also, I see now that you were talking about multi-engine operations, where as I was referring to single-engine operations. In my case, Vmc is basically Vs0 (or perhaps lower, being in ground-effect, in which case it's now a soft-field takeoff).

So this does again make it an issue of "know thine aircraft, as it depends".

Posted by: Gary Baluha | June 19, 2012 3:08 PM    Report this comment

I don't think there is a black and white answer to this one. It depends on what you are flying and at what point you initiate the go-around. Let's say you are in a 260HP Pitts and decide to go around at 200 ft due to an aircraft stopped on the runway. If you apply full throttle, you are going to have way more power than you need and it's going to give you some challenges. Much better to apply enough power to adopt a positive climb (but not full power) so that you can maintain awareness and control of your height and flight profile as you climb back in to the circuit. I currently fly a Citabria from a very busy grass airfield in the UK and if I go around from a baulked landing, I apply full power, adopt the climb attitude and then trim. If I have to go around early (say 200ft) I apply cruise power, move to the deadside of the runway and then adopt a climb rate that will keep me below the traffic passing across the upwind end of the runway at circuit height (from a standard overhead join).

Posted by: Ian Walton | June 19, 2012 5:25 PM    Report this comment

Multi-airplanes require multi-techniques. I currently fly two different types that require different techniques. Applying the same regimented technique even for the same airplane each time may also be flawed. For example, in my 185 I normally approach a short strip slow (Sportsman cuff, WingX and VG's) with full flaps. If I am light and by myself, the trim is full nose up. If I am heavy, the trim is slightly aft of midway. The pitch up tendency is much greater with full, nose up trim, and requires a very heavy push when flaps are retracted to 20 after adding power. In this situation, I only add 25" MAP until the trim is adjusted. In the mountains 25" may be all I'll get due to the elevation, so in reality I have added "full power". This is why it is important to know your aircraft (empty and full gross), and have a CFI who is familiar with the type beyond typical training weights only at a sea level airport.

The other airplane I fly requires the same go around technique every time without regard for trim, load or weight, i.e. max power, flaps 23 (with a simultaneous pitch up to go around attitude), positive rate, gear up, etc.

One size doesn't necessarily fit all, even with the same airplane. One-step, depends. Just don't mis-step.

Posted by: Manny Puerta | June 20, 2012 12:59 PM    Report this comment

The whole argument rests upon the aircraft. The full power behavior of the Cessna was used as an example...Piper reacts differently...literally each and every different type of aircraft will respond within its own design parameters. One would hope that the pilot would have had a sufficient enough check out in the airplane to have some idea what it is going to do. I used to deliver and retrieve aircraft for a sales company and might be in 10 different types of aircraft in a week. I had my procedure for familiarization and it included a simulated go around. There should be no hard rule, it all depends upon how the equipment responds. BTW the later C210's could have some rather severe elevator pressures...much greater than the 172's or 182's.

Posted by: william laatsch | June 21, 2012 12:52 AM    Report this comment

If I may offer an "over view" of the comments seen here. The first thought is that the "go around" or "missed approach" is so dependent upon the aircraft configuration and design, and the ambient conditions. The "go-around" should NEVER be construed as an immediate or emergency procedure. Considering that the aircraft is at the beginning of the runway "at speed and altitude", you are way ahead of an aircraft who is simply starting his takeoff roll with no airspeed or altitude "in the bank", therefore, obstacles are not an immediate concern, only aircraft control. The SIMULTANEOUS application of smooth pitch to climb attitude AS the power is slowly being applied will serve most go arounds extremely well. This will be most apparent when making a single engine go around in a multi-engine aircraft. The concept of flying to ILS minimums in actual minimum weather conditions, with a no flap, and extra airspeed configuration is not a good procedure as you are now dealing with a large configuration change to land the aircraft starting at 200 feet AGL and poor visibility which is fully against all "stabilized approach" concepts. Higher performance aircraft in most cases should not land with no flap unless it truly is necessary. The "go around" and/or "missed approach" from a low altitude should be part of a training curriculum for that specific aircraft checkout or type rating (required for the type).

Posted by: Blaine Banks | June 21, 2012 2:20 AM    Report this comment

I think that most of us do not practice go arounds as much as wee should or at all in forty years of flying I have had to make a go around maybe three or four times. With as much experience as I have I fully expext to land when I reach my destination the same as I have always done. and that dosnt mean that I havent landed at mayn typs of fields and in many typs of terrain. But I fully believe that I can land the plane that I am flying in at thedestination or I wouldnt be flying it...Now the BUT...I flew my Cessna 210 D model with only myself and full 80 galons of fuel (talk about nose heavy) and full flaps with a stiff crosswind from the righr of course I had the right wing down andleft rudder to compensate for the drift. I was in the flare with power almost off and was feeling for the right gear to touch down first. The instant it touched the right main tire BLEW, the plane did an imeadate right turn twords the edge of the runway I put in full left aleron and could not bring the right wing up. I was one second away from a ground loop on the right wing. I shoved in full power and instantly the engine torque snaped wings level and the imeadate pich up took the tire out of the dirt and I was flying I had to hold the nose from going to high but it can be done. the subsequent landing at my home field with the known blown tire was a piece of cake coompared to the unexpected blow out.But a go around can be made at any altitude or airspeed even if you are "committed" to landing.

Posted by: Russell Roe | June 21, 2012 2:23 AM    Report this comment

"Interesting...I'd have done the flaps before carb heat. / ...the procedure seems to be the same. Use all the power."
"Carb heat cold" provides additional power, so if the goal is to first add full power, then that includes carb heat off. Also can be accomplished very quickly (don't have to "nurse" the carb heat off).

Posted by: Eric Nelson | June 21, 2012 11:39 AM    Report this comment

What no one has mentioned is the horrible practice (most often in Mooneys and Bonanzas) of the "auto-flare" technique where pilots use the electric trim as a way to make "the perfect landing". All through the approach and continuing through the flare, the pilot uses the electric trim as their primary pitch control. Many pilots swear it's the secret to "the perfect landing". Some pilots even claim it's the only way they can flare a "nose heavy" plane as they lack the strength.

I never understood why a plane would be "nose-heavy" as, by definition, a plane must be flown within its weight and balance envelope and never flown “nose heavy” (or “tail heavy” for that matter).

I never understood how a properly trimmed plane could require so much strength to flare that a pilot would required to trim slower than 1.3xVso as the certification process addresses control force gradients.

What I do understand is that pilots use the electric trim for the landing flare to mask their lack of skill in properly controlling their aircraft and don’t understand the danger of trying to control a horribly out of trim aircraft at a very critical moment: a go-around. Those pilots need additional training.

Posted by: KRIS LARSON | June 21, 2012 2:43 PM    Report this comment

Kris, I have had that kind of problem flying 182s solo or with another front seat body. The plane gets very nose heavy. I believe it is still within the allowed CG envelope but you really need some strength to flare the nose on landing - unless you use the simple trick of popping the throttle to get the nose to come up. This is not the same as fooling with the trim. Once the nose is flared it is not a big deal to hold it there. It is just very hard to get it to move up.

Any plane that has empty back seats will have the CG in the forward regions of the envelope. This always makes it fly a bit nose heavy. When you do this in a plane with a monstrous engine also in the nose the flare gets tricky. Add to this the high power that comes with those big engines and the go around can get pretty exciting if you do it Paul B's way.

The good news is with all that power and a lightly loaded plane it doesn't take anything even close to full power to arrest your descent and fly level for a bit while adjusting all the garbage hanging out and trim before seriously performing a climb to complete the maneuver.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | June 21, 2012 3:08 PM    Report this comment

Quote. Kris Larson: I never understood why a plane would be "nose-heavy" as, by definition, a plane must be flown within its weight and balance envelope and never flown “nose heavy” (or “tail heavy” for that matter). End quote.

I agree with your remarks, and will a comment to the above quote. An empty 185, with nothing in the aft baggage, requires full aft trim for landing, and sometimes that aft trim position isn't enough for hands-off flight at flap 40 normal threshold speeds. As a consequence, pitch authority during the flare can be limited. Carrying 50# of survival gear in the aft baggage and the installation of VG's on the horizontal stab transforms the airplane into a docile handler during the landing phase. I'm a big believer in always flying "in trim"' especially in a trimmable stab airplane during the landing process.

The best way to avoid the possible issues of having to do a go around is to be stabilized on speed and on profile. This is especially important when flying into a high density altitude, one-way, mountain strip with non-standard terrain/obstacles, because life isn't always 8,000 feet of concrete in Kansas on a nice day.

Posted by: Manny Puerta | June 21, 2012 3:24 PM    Report this comment

Thank You Paul for echoing my belief. So often we get stuck in a belief or habit pattern that isn't founded in reality but rather on popular opinion. I personally teach all my students a simple Go-Around procedure that works in nearly all light aircraft especially the singles that I teach in.

Power Up
Pitch Up
Flaps UP
Go Up (verify positive rate of climb and airspeed)
Gear Up

Simple and easy to remember. I find it interesting how every one talks about one aircraft's quirks over another and how you must be "careful" or do something just right to fly some model safely. I teach my students regardless of control pressures just move the controls in such a way as to get the desired performance. Disregard heavy or light forces just put the attitude where it should be set the power properly and the airplane will comply. Once all that is in place you can re-trim to relieve the pressures.

Posted by: Travis Rader | June 21, 2012 7:26 PM    Report this comment

I found it interesting that a few respondents mentioned going to low pitch on the prop after deciding on the go around. I was taught to lower the prop pitch while in the pattern. This will slow the plane down and give you one less thing to do when initiating the go around.

Posted by: John Worsley | June 21, 2012 9:09 PM    Report this comment

Well Paul You asked the question "How do you do a go around?" and I believe everyone who answered was telling you how they do it. Brilliant

Posted by: Bruce Savage | June 22, 2012 4:09 AM    Report this comment

Learning to fly in the mid-70's in Harvey Mudd College's aeronautics program, we were taught that for the C172's we flew, N7262Q and 7642G, full (40 degrees!) landing flaps was too much... 20 degrees was all we cranked in for normal approaches..

Do that and the two stage becomes a one stage, like with every other goaround by a simple SEL aircraft. Problem solved.

Posted by: Greg Goodknight | June 23, 2012 6:13 PM    Report this comment

After reading through all these responses I realized that we're not all necessarily talking about the same thing when we say "go-around". Paul is talking about a maneuver initiated at the last moment -- say less than 5-10 feet AGL. In that case full power seems appropriate. But should a pilot wait that long to initiate it? Unless the problem is a last minute gust, a magically appearing moose, or an unexpected ATC instruction, why not start the go around sooner than that? Instrument pilots start the missed approach at 2-500 feet AGL. Why not plan to go around if you haven't got the plane where you want it at say 50 feet? At that altitude it matters less whether you do a 1 step or a 2 step procedure.

Posted by: JAMES GRANT | June 24, 2012 11:24 AM    Report this comment

Any C-182 pilot who has piled on full throttle with the trim all the way up for landing has definitely had that "hope the seat latch doesn't pop out" thought.

In the couple of occasions I got into that situation I also wondered if a petite lady pilot could have held the nose down while trying to scrabble the trim back to normal.

Posted by: John Wilson | June 24, 2012 5:46 PM    Report this comment

Hence my 25" MAP technique at sea level until trim can be reset. Try it sometime.

Posted by: Manny Puerta | June 24, 2012 5:54 PM    Report this comment

I've been away for the week and meant to post this sooner. This is from John Posson, who is an instructor in the Stallion P-51. He writes;

"The torque roll thing in the Mustang; it only happens if the wing is stalled. We often put the airplane (at training altitude) into a go around configuration at 46 inches 2700 rpm, gear down, flaps 50 degrees (full) and slow to three knots above the 1G stall speed and it's flyable. The torque roll is a result of the pilot stalling the airplane with the power that high, not the power itself."

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 29, 2012 4:22 PM    Report this comment

Reading these comments, I think it's rational to conclude that only in a few GA airplanes would using full application of power for a missed approach or go-around produce a control/trim issue. I'd argue that there aren't enough of these to make two-step power a universal doctrine.

In the Roush accident blog I wrote earlier this week, you can clearly see what can happen with partial power is used in an attempt to arrest descent indecisively and without conviction.
Jets or pistons, the result can be the same.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | June 29, 2012 4:29 PM    Report this comment

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