Technique: Normal takeoff and climb

Are you ready to roll?

It’s said that a mile of road takes you one mile, but a mile of runway takes you anywhere. That’s never more apparent than when you taxi an airplane onto a runway and get ready to take off. You’ll quickly leave the expanse of pavement beneath you, and each takeoff heralds a new flight in your aviation journey.
  1. Complete your pretakeoff checklist
    For this takeoff, winds are light and straight down the runway, which you can verify by glancing at a windsock, if available.

Click on image to enlarge.
Illustration by Charles Floyd

  1. Carefully check the final approach course for arriving traffic
    In a high-wing airplane, angle the nose slightly toward the approach end so that you can get an unobstructed view of traffic. Announce your intention to taxi onto the runway. At a towered airport, you will be cleared to taxi onto the active runway. Even though you’ve been given permission, check final for arriving traffic.
Technique takeoff and climb
  1. Enter runway
    Taxi onto the centerline. Ensure that the direction of the runway aligns with the airplane’s magnetic compass.
Technique takeoff and climb
  1. Begin takeoff roll
    In most trainers, your left hand stays on the yoke or stick. Use your right hand to smoothly apply full power to the throttle. (Smoothly means just that. Don’t shove the throttle in.) As the airplane accelerates, take a second to verify that oil temperature and pressure are in the green and airspeed is coming alive, meaning no pitot-static blockage.
Technique takeoff and climb
  1. Left-turning tendencies
    Here’s where things get a little interesting. The propeller creates thrust, and it also creates four left-turning tendencies: torque, spiraling slipstream, P-factor, and gyroscopic precession. The airplane will want to turn to the left on the ground, so use the rudder to track the centerline.
Technique takeoff and climb
  1. Rotate
    At rotation speed, the airplane has enough speed to fly off the runway. Use back-pressure to raise the nose. You shouldn’t have to jerk or yank the controls. Now the left-turning tendencies will cause the airplane to want to roll and yaw to the left, so keep applying right rudder.
Technique takeoff and climb
  1. Climb out
    Raise or lower the nose to achieve the correct pitch attitude for your desired airspeed and rate of climb. Adjust elevator trim as needed. You will need right rudder as long as the airplane is climbing.
Technique takeoff and climb
  1. Level off
    When you reach your desired altitude, adjust power and elevator trim again.
Technique takeoff and climb
Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.

Related Articles