Every year during simulator training I know a balked landing is on the list of tasks to accomplish. And if I’m training in a jet, the maneuver will almost certainly come at the end of a low weather instrument approach with one engine failed.
I don’t know of an official definition of a balked landing that makes it different from a go-around. The way the balked landing term is generally used is that the actual landing procedure has begun and must be aborted. A go-around generally begins at a higher altitude and lacks the urgency of the balked landing.
So, to me a missed approach at the typical ILS decision height of 200 feet agl is a go-around. There is still plenty of energy available to get the power in, raise the nose and bring the gear up when climb is established. On many airplanes flaps are immediately raised from landing position to approach as soon as you start the go-around.
But a balked landing begins after you have begun to adjust the sink rate, and probably the power in preparation for the landing flare. Of course, in the extreme balked landing case you are in the flare and the power is coming back. Usually those happen in the simulator when a truck or other airplane taxies onto the runway right in front of you.
The reason to practice balked landings is that, I’m happy to say, the need to perform one in normal flying is pretty rare. Other than for practice, I can’t say that I have ever made a balked landing for real. But the situation can and does occur, and when it happens for real it will come as a surprise and there will be no time for review.
I can’t say one reaction is more important than the other, but to stop sinking and start climbing you need to pitch up and add power. Adding power and waiting on the pitch will keep you going down, but pitching up without all available power is going to bleed airspeed off like crazy. The two reactions must be as close as possible to simultaneous. If you’re in a turbine airplane it will take a few seconds to get the full power response, but you still have to get the nose up to halt the descent.
In some airplanes the problem will be keeping the nose from pitching too far up when the power comes in. Two airplanes that come to mind that may be a handful are the Mooney and Cessna 182. In both airplanes trimmed for landing approach with full flaps, a big boost of power is going to raise the nose and you will find yourself pushing hard to maintain the desired attitude until you can retrim. None of us can push away from our body one-handed with the same authority as we can pull so you may need to get that other hand off the throttle and onto the wheel.
In most airplanes flap position during a balked landing is more important than extended landing gear. If the wing flaps are very large and effective for landing, they are probably going to reduce climb performance a lot. Some singles may not climb at all with full flaps if the airplane is heavy and the density altitude high so flap retraction is crucial. On more powerful airplanes the procedure may be to leave the flaps alone until you have a positive rate of climb and the airplane is accelerating.
Of course the most urgent need to make a balked landing would be when you hear the propeller tips striking the pavement. More than one pilot has poured on the power when he realized the wheels are up and made it around to land. But others haven’t. Once the prop strikes the runway the propeller itself, or the engine, may not hold together after full power comes in and you will end up in a critical situation. If the prop hits first, just be happy that you remembered to pay the insurance premium if not to lower the wheels and slide it on. Nobody is ever hurt in unintentional gear-up landings.