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6 Common Takeoff Mistakes, And How To Avoid Them

Takeoffs are one of the most critical times for you as a pilot. High speeds, close ground proximity, and gusty winds can make for an interesting challenge. Avoid making these mistakes...

1) Adding brake pressure during ground roll.

Once you start your ground roll, make sure you have your heels on the floor and the balls of your feet on the rudder pedals. Using brake pressure by accident during a takeoff roll increases your takeoff distance, wears out your brake pads, and could cause you to start swerving at high speeds.


2) Choosing a tailwind runway because "it's a shorter taxi."

According to a Cessna 172S POH, you should expect a 50% longer takeoff roll with a 10 knot tailwind.

Worse yet, while your rate of climb won't necessarily change with a tailwind, your angle of climb can shift dramatically. If you have a strong tailwind, and a high groundspeed, your angle of climb is decreasing. That can make it harder to clear obstacles ahead of you.


3) Keeping controls neutral during a crosswind.

As you accelerate down the runway, your ailerons become more effective, and you'll want to slowly reduce them.

So how much do you reduce aileron deflection? Just enough to keep the airplane aligned with the runway centerline. What you'll find, at least in a moderate crosswind, is that enough aileron deflection will keep you wings level, and on runway centerline. Learn everything you need to know about making the perfect crosswind takeoff here.


4) Failing to add full takeoff power.

Takeoff performance is always based on a calculated power setting. Using anything less will result in reduced takeoff performance, and a longer ground roll.

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5) No flight controls check.

It doesn't matter what you fly, whether it's a Cessna 172 or Boeing 777. During one of your pre-takeoff checklists, there's going to be a flight controls check.

Depending on your aircraft, the flight controls check might be listed in pre-flight, run-up, just before takeoff, or within multiple checklists.


6) Over-Rotating

As you reach rotation speed, smoothly pull back on the controls, and avoid "yanking" the airplane off the ground. In most normal takeoffs, just a little back pressure is all you need to get the airplane flying.


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