Pilot's tip of the week

Turning Onto the Runway


Subscriber question:

"Are there any final checks I should make when turning onto the runway for takeoff?" — Bob S.



“There are three things you should include.

First, take a look at that windsock. That’s the best indicator of the wind you’re going to have on your takeoff. It’s usually close to the end of the runway, which is where you are right now. But changing wind conditions can mean what it showed two minutes ago might no longer be valid.

Second, check for traffic on final. That’s essential at both towered and non-towered airports. Controllers can make mistakes just like pilots can.

Finally, check your heading when you line up on centerline. If it doesn’t match the runway number, either your directional indicator is not set or you’ve taken the wrong runway. That’s an easier mistake than you’d think where two runways cross at a common starting point.

Anything else, such as pre-departure briefings or a check of the flight controls, can be done before announcing on the CTAF or calling Tower. I don’t like to be sitting out on the runway any longer than I have to with my back to the traffic. And controllers don’t appreciate aircraft that sit in place after a takeoff clearance unless the pilot told the controller he needs some time in position prior to rolling.”

After being cleared for takeoff, is it OK to pause on the runway before starting your takeoff roll?

(Assume there was no "immediate takeoff" or similar instruction from Tower.)

(NEW) VFR Mastery scenario #69 “Something’s Come Up” is now available. Passenger airsickness is an annoyance that almost every pilot has had to deal with at one time or another. Landing ASAP is the rule, but VFR above the clouds complicates the execution. The passenger might not be the only problem as well. Maybe you shouldn’t have ordered the fish. Watch the Intro video.

Get the Pilot’s Tip of the Week

Sign up here to receive tips like this every week along with videos, quizzes and more.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.