John Ewing has posted a detailed entry on Aviation Mentor concerning the difficult and tricky circle-to-land maneuver – a maneuver that is considered to be risky enough that many freight operators prohibit their pilots from performing it at night or from doing it at all. However, at some airports where runways lack a straight-line approach, pilots have no choice but to use the circle-to-land maneuver. Furthermore, pilots must demonstrate circle-to-land maneuvers on instrument rating practical tests and proficiency tests.
To show the difficulties associated with the maneuver and what can go wrong when it is not properly performed, John starts by mentioning a recent accident involving a Learjet performing the maneuver and includes several excerpts from accident reports covering the incident. He then proceeds to give step by step instructions and tips for performing the maneuver and for minimizing the risks involved.
However at the end of the entry, John concludes by saying that if you end up missing your approach the first time around, you might just be better off landing at your alternative airport choice rather than risk a second approach as second approaches also entail risks. Good advice worth heeding.