Pilot's tip of the week

Smooth Liftoff


Subscriber question:

"Any tips for a smooth liftoff in light winds? Sometimes the plane jumps up or wanders left after leaving the runway, even with no wind." —Fred M.



“Well, first of all, we’re going to use that centerline on the runway. That’s not just three feet to the left or three feet to the right. If we go out there and get that nose wheel right on the centerline and do our best to keep it there all the time, that will soon become a habit.

We also want to be sure that we have our heels on the floor not up on the brakes. If we’re dragging those brakes on takeoff we’re not helping our performance at all, and we’re heating up the brakes unnecessarily.

During the takeoff roll, there’s really no need to hold the yoke forward to keep pressure on that nose wheel. If you can just let it ride neutral (when properly trimmed) you’re going to smooth out some of the bumps on the runway and we’re going to reduce stress on the nose gear. Of course, we’re going to do what our Pilot Operating Handbook tells us. If it suggests something else we’ll follow that.

Now, as we begin to smoothly raise the nose for liftoff, one of those left-turning tendencies starts to pull us over to the left. That’s the P-factor. Add just a little bit of right rudder as the nose comes up so that you can stay exactly on the centerline. And having thought this through before takeoff, it won’t be a surprise to us when it happens.”

Do you add right rudder during rotation to counteract left-turning tendencies of your airplane?

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