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Feature Article: Short Field Takeoff

The procedure requires performance that results in the shortest ground roll and the steepest angle of climb. Two beginning options are available with little advantage going to either. Takeoff #1 is the rolling-running start where the aircraft tries to gain speed while entering the runway. Full power is applied in anticipation with runway alignment. Takeoff #2 places the aircraft so as to be aligned at the very end of the runway. Power is applied with the brakes applied until maximum rpm is attained. During the ground roll the aircraft is held for minimum air resistance and best acceleration. Figure a 1% decrease in book takeoff distance for each knot of headwind. Any part of the runway distance not used for initial acceleration is never to be recovered. Extending partial flaps at moment of liftoff has not been shown to be an advantage.

Shortly before the best angle of climb speed is attained the aircraft is rotated to that angle of attack what the pilot believes will give the best angle of climb airspeed. The aircraft will accelerate quickly after lift off so this change must be anticipated with additional back pressure. Failure to hold a constant best angle airspeed makes a significant difference in the flight angle of the aircraft.

Pilot techniques will determine how well the takeoff occurs. Half the aircraft should project off the runway for maximum distance. Application of power should be such as to avoid 'loading-up' the carburetor. At full power the aircraft is allowed to accelerate to rotation speed. Pre-mature rotation is a major mistake and more common than delaying rotation. The technique for rotating, obtaining, and holding that attitude which will give the best angle of climb takes practice. There is a lag in airspeed indications and aircraft performance which makes much practice necessary. Using the airspeed indicator usually results in a lower pitch attitude than required.

Departure on an apparently short runway can contribute to a series of piloting mistakes which compound the problem. The pilot may mistakenly attempt to get into the air too soon, before the airplane is ready to fly, by over rotation. Sure, the nose will go up. Over rotation will require the nose to be lowered to obtain climb speeds and result in decreased climb performance both over time and distance. Aircraft speed is one way to get the lift performance to overcome an obstruction. At lighter than book speeds the speeds of performance change at a rate of 1/2 the percentage of weight change. A 20% reduction in gross weight will allow a 10% reduction of book speed for maximum performance.

The success of a maximum performance short field takeoff requires precise control of airspeed and aircraft attitude. Even a slight deviation of either initially or later will result in a significant reduction of performance.

What to avoid:
1. Not using all available runway
2. Getting to full power quickly
3. Lifting off too soon
4. Letting airspeed exceed Vx

Last Modified September 24, ©2023 TAGE.COM

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