E-8 JSTARS are not a rare thing at Red Flag but they do often get involved in the night sorties. Seeing one heading out to play for the daytime activities was a pleasant surprise. On their return on the first day they were following in the KDC-10 that I mentioned in a previous post. They also adopted some sporty approach techniques and were similarly unsuccessful in converting them in to a landing. The go around ensued and was followed by a more conventional straight in approach and landing.
There were two tankers I was hoping to shoot at Red Flag. One was the Colombian 767. It didn’t fly on the first day but on the second it started to taxi before returning to the ramp and shutting down. Never mind. The other was the Dutch KDC-10. I hadn’t shot one before and they are not likely to be in service for too much longer so this might have been my last chance. Therefore, I hoped it would fly and it didn’t let me down.
The winds were strong on the first day and it departed towards us off 21L. As soon as it was airborne, the nose cocked into the strong crosswind and it turned towards us. A right turn overhead and it was on its way to the ranges. When it returned, they went for a very impressive curving approach. It looked great. However, it wasn’t great from a flying perspective and a go around followed. The second approach was more conventional and more successful.
On the second day they flew again. This time the arrivals were from over the Speedway so a more traditional view of them coming in. I was hoping for a go around and a tight circuit to land but that was a tad optimistic. Maybe after the previous day they were more content to get the beast back on the ground.
A gear up landing is never something you want to have. What is worse is doing it in front of a lot of people. However, the crowd can sometimes be a benefit. The open house at Paine Field included some flybys by various types and one Navion was the last in his group to recover. Coming down the approach with flap deployed but no gear he looked very odd. I imagine the horn should have been blaring but, whatever the reason, he continued. Much frantic waving by the crowd and a call from the air boss had the desired effect, fortunately. A go around ensued followed by a normal approach a landing. I understand many beers were bought that night.
You don’t see a lot of go-arounds at major airports but they do happen. I was down at LAX awaiting the arrival of a friend when a Cathay Pacific 777 came on to the approach. As I looked back at it, the approach did not appear to be too stable. It seemed to start off a little high, then it got back on glide path but it adopted a rather nose high attitude. At this point I thought something seemed amiss but it then resumed a more normal approach angle and I figured they had got it under control. It was at this time that they powered up and climbed away.
They were tucking up the gear as they came across the top of me. They flew the missed approach procedure and then came around for a second go which went fine this time. I don’t know what the issue was but I did talk to some other pilots that had flown the approach that day and they mentioned that construction work was underway that had meant some of the approach aids were out of service. Maybe this was a factor. Since airlines have strict procedures about going around if they are not stabilized by a certain point, maybe they were just too late getting it back and stable and had to follow the procedure.
The smoothness with which air traffic is usually managed means that, whenever something doesn’t go to plan, it is quite a surprise. A go around on approach is a relatively rare occurrence. I have only been on three commercial flights that spring to mind when a go around was executed. I saw a couple at SFO last year on one day but that was when two of the runways were shut and they were squeezing as much as they could in making the chance of a conflict higher.
I was watching arrivals to Chicago Midway when I saw a Falcon 2000 on approach. As they got closer, they obviously got the call and the aircraft pitched up and applied power to climb away. It made for an unusual angle at which to see the plane as it banked away on to the missed approach procedure. It obviously was not a complicated procedure because they showed up again shortly afterwards. They were then followed by a similar Falcon 2000 and it was only later, when I was going through the pictures, that I worked out which one was the jet that had made the go around.