Southwest go-around

I’ve never been on a commercial flight that’s had to make a go-around, so it was fun to watch a Southwest flight do one at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport a few minutes ago. I’m sure it was a lot less fun for those aboard.

I currently work in a building that has a fourth-floor patio with a view of Sky Harbor. The prevailing winds typically allow me to watch planes as they land. I go out there a couple times a day to stretch my legs and enjoy some fresh air. And watch planes.

Today, just as I stepped onto the patio, I heard a Southwest jet roar its engines and watched it climb out of its final approach. A go-around! The plane appeared to have been heading for runway 25R on the south side of the airport. In spite of the heat, I stayed on the patio for a while and watched as it circled to the south and then turned east.

It left my view for a short time as it flew several miles to the east, but a few minutes later it was back on the final approach to the same runway, where it landed normally.

I went back to my desk and pulled up recent flights on FlightAware. The flight I saw was apparently Southwest flight 1524 from Burbank. You can actually see the go-around in the flight track and altitude data.

See it here: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA1524/history/20120604/1925ZZ/KBUR/KPHX (FlightAware)

Myself, I’ve had to execute several go-arounds as a private pilot. One time it was because I was too high on my visual approach. I doubt that was the case for a seasoned pilot in a sophisticated jetliner. Most of the go-arounds I’ve done were for separation at busy airports. If I had to guess, that was probably the case here.

4 comments.

  1. It happened to us on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix Sky Harbor coming home from Paris in 2002. We went around not once but twice! I was convinced the pilot didn’t know how to land. There was a thunderstorm brewing and the wind direction was rapidly changing. We ended up landing from the opposite direction of the first two attempts. Very scary when you don’t know what’s happening at the time. The pilot just said both times “We are just going to go around and try that again folks”

  2. Afternoon and early evening arrivals at Sky Harbor can be awfully bumpy, so I’m sure it was disconcerting to have to go around and then go around again. Still, it’s better to have a pilot who’s not too proud to break off a bad approach. After all, you lived to the tell us about it.

  3. Where is sky harbor located? Also, go arounds are sick!

  4. Sky Harbor is in Phoenix, just a few miles east of the Downtown area.