Are Touch-and-Goes Good Practice? – Plane & Pilot Magazine | Aviation

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In the early 1960s, I was on the ramp at Rosecrans Memorial Airport (KSTJ) in St. Joseph, Missouri, when I observed a massive Boeing 707 in TWA colors swoop down onto Runway 36, emit blue smoke from the main gear tires, and roar away into the air instead of braking to a stop. Making a countywide circle, it came back for another touch-and-go, evidently doing in-plane pilot training in the days before full flight simulators.

The concept of performing “circuits and bumps,” aka touch-and-goes, was developed to save time during landing practice by eliminating the taxiing portion of a full landing-and-takeoff regimen. In the case of the Boeing, the brakes would be hot at the end of a full-stop landing, perhaps leaving the aircraft unable to handle a rejected takeoff if necessary.

Many flight schools at busy airports are forced to teach with touch-and-goes because exiting the runway means joining the queue and waiting for a break in traffic to take off again. The only full-stop landing comes at the end of the training session unless a trip is made to a nearby quiet airport.

It’s probably better to teach primary students full-stop landings, leaving touch-and-goes for advanced and recurrent training with pilots who have already learned the basics of flying. By experiencing the entire sequence of decelerating to taxi speed, then starting out from a dead stop to experience a complete takeoff, a beginning student becomes more familiar with transitioning between taxiing and flying, requiring fewer landings to acquire proficiency. As long as the taxi-back and departure takes only a minute or two, the time on the ground gives the instructor a moment to critique and teach while the student is less occupied with controlling the airplane.

Thus, touch-and-goes are necessary but less desirable for initial learning if it’s possible to avoid them. In the cases of commercial pilot training, instrument approach practice, multiengine transition, or checkouts in a new…

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