November 19, 2023

How to Take Off in an Airplane

Takeoff is a transition from moving along the ground (taxiing) to flying in the air. Conventional airplanes accelerate along the runway to generate enough lift for takeoff, while helicopters and VTOL aircraft such as Harrier jump jets fly vertically using thrust alone.

A safe takeoff starts with good planning and thorough inspections. Students and instructors work together to complete a pre-takeoff flow or checklist to verify the aircraft is ready for flight. If departing from a towered airport, the pilot must request a takeoff clearance from the control tower before taxiing onto the runway. Tower controllers routinely provide wind information on their clearances, so pilots must pay attention to this data when lining up for a takeoff.

During the takeoff run, the student must make sure the aircraft is aligned with the runway centerline and that both principal ASIs are indicating normal speeds at the check speed. If the pilot notices a deviation from these normal conditions, it is important to stop the airplane and determine if the deviation can be corrected prior to rotation.

Once the aircraft has reached takeoff power, it is important to scan the engine gauges and power instruments for proper indications. This scan includes a look at the engine oil pressure to be sure it is a reasonable amount for the current conditions and a check that both the propeller blades are in takeoff position.

If the engine is not generating sufficient power to overcome gravity, it is important to reduce the throttle and rotate the aircraft into the takeoff attitude. It is helpful for a student to learn what the target pitch attitude for rotation looks like from the cockpit, and ask an instructor for a demonstration.


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