Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rectangular Course

Normally, the first ground reference maneuver the pilot is introduced to is the rectangular course. Rectangular course.
The rectangular course is a training maneuver in which the ground track of the airplane is equidistant from all sides of a selected rectangular area on the ground. The maneuver simulates the conditions encountered in an airport traffic pattern. While performing the maneuver, the altitude and airspeed should be held constant. The maneuver assists the student pilot in perfecting:

Practical application of the turn.
The division of attention between the flightpath, ground objects, and the handling of the airplane.
The timing of the start of a turn so that the turn will be fully established at a definite point over the ground.
The timing of the recovery from a turn so that a definite ground track will be maintained.
The establishing of a ground track and the determination of the appropriate "crab" angle.

Like those of other ground track maneuvers, one of the objectives is to develop division of attention between the flightpath and ground references, while controlling the airplane and watching for other aircraft in the vicinity. Another objective is to develop recognition of drift toward or away from a line parallel to the intended ground track. This will be helpful in recognizing drift toward or from an airport runway during the various legs of the airport traffic pattern.

For this maneuver, a square or rectangular field, or an area bounded on four sides by section lines or roads (the sides of which are approximately a mile in length), should be selected well away from other air traffic. The airplane should be flown parallel to and at a uniform distance about one-fourth to one-half mile away from the field boundaries, not above the boundaries. For best results, the flightpath should be positioned outside the field boundaries just far enough that they may be easily observed from either pilot seat by looking out the side of the airplane. If an attempt is made to fly directly above the edges of the field, the pilot will have no usable reference points to start and complete the turns. The closer the track of the airplane is to the field boundaries, the steeper the bank necessary at the turning points. Also, the pilot should be able to see the edges of the selected field while seated in a normal position and looking out the side of the airplane during either a left-hand or right-hand course. The distance of the ground track from the edges of the field should be the same regardless of whether the course is flown to the left or right. All turns should be started when the airplane is abeam the corner of the field boundaries, and the bank normally should not exceed 45°. These should be the determining factors in establishing the distance from the boundaries for performing the maneuver.

Although the rectangular course may be entered from any direction, this discussion assumes entry on a downwind.

On the downwind leg, the wind is a tailwind and results in an increased groundspeed. Consequently, the turn onto the next leg is entered with a fairly fast rate of roll-in with relatively steep bank. As the turn progresses, the bank angle is reduced gradually because the tailwind component is diminishing, resulting in a decreasing groundspeed.

During and after the turn onto this leg (the equivalent of the base leg in a traffic pattern), the wind will tend to drift the airplane away from the field boundary. To compensate for the drift, the amount of turn will be more than 90°.

The rollout from this turn must be such that as the wings become level, the airplane is turned slightly toward the field and into the wind to correct for drift. The airplane should again be the same distance from the field boundary and at the same altitude, as on other legs. The base leg should be continued until the upwind leg boundary is being approached. Once more the pilot should anticipate drift and turning radius. Since drift correction was held on the base leg, it is necessary to turn less than 90° to align the airplane parallel to the upwind leg boundary. This turn should be started with a medium bank angle with a gradual reduction to a shallow bank as the turn progresses. The rollout should be timed to assure paralleling the boundary of the field as the wings become level.

While the airplane is on the upwind leg, the next field boundary should be observed as it is being approached, to plan the turn onto the crosswind leg. Since the wind is a headwind on this leg, it is reducing the airplane's groundspeed and during the turn onto the crosswind leg will try to drift the airplane toward the field. For this reason, the roll-in to the turn must be slow and the bank relatively shallow to counteract this effect. As the turn progresses, the headwind component decreases, allowing the groundspeed to increase. Consequently, the bank angle and rate of turn are increased gradually to assure that upon completion of the turn the crosswind ground track will continue the same distance from the edge of the field. Completion of the turn with the wings level should be accomplished at a point aligned with the upwind corner of the field.

Simultaneously, as the wings are rolled level, the proper drift correction is established with the airplane turned into the wind. This requires that the turn be less than a 90° change in heading. If the turn has been made properly, the field boundary will again appear to be one-fourth to one-half mile away. While on the crosswind leg, the wind correction angle should be adjusted as necessary to maintain a uniform distance from the field boundary.

As the next field boundary is being approached, the pilot should plan the turn onto the downwind leg. Since a wind correction angle is being held into the wind and away from the field while on the crosswind leg, this next turn will require a turn of more than 90°. Since the crosswind will become a tailwind, causing the groundspeed to increase during this turn, the bank initially should be medium and progressively increased as the turn proceeds. To complete the turn, the rollout must be timed so that the wings become level at a point aligned with the crosswind corner of the field just as the longitudinal axis of the airplane again becomes parallel to the field boundary. The distance from the field boundary should be the same as from the other sides of the field.

Usually, drift should not be encountered on the upwind or the downwind leg, but it may be difficult to find a situation where the wind is blowing exactly parallel to the field boundaries. This would make it necessary to use a slight wind correction angle on all the legs. It is important to anticipate the turns to correct for groundspeed, drift, and turning radius. When the wind is behind the airplane, the turn must be faster and steeper; when it is ahead of the airplane, the turn must be slower and shallower. These same techniques apply while flying in airport traffic patterns.

Common errors in the performance of rectangular courses are:
Failure to adequately clear the area.

Failure to establish proper altitude prior to entry. (Typically entering the maneuver while

Failure to establish appropriate wind correction angle resulting in drift.

Gaining or losing altitude.

Poor coordination. (Typically skidding in turns from a downwind heading and slipping in turns
from an upwind heading.)

Abrupt control usage.

Inability to adequately divide attention between airplane control and maintaining ground track.

Improper timing in beginning and recovering from turns.

Inadequate visual lookout for other aircraft.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Drift And Ground Track Control

Whenever any object is free from the ground, it is affected by the medium with which it is surrounded. This means that a free object will move in whatever direction and speed that the medium moves.

For example, if a powerboat is crossing a river and the river is still, the boat could head directly to a point on the opposite shore and travel on a straight course to that point without drifting. However, if the river were flowing swiftly, the water current would have to be considered. That is, as the boat progresses forward with its own power, it must also move upstream at the same rate the river is moving it downstream. This is accomplished by angling the boat upstream sufficiently to counteract the downstream flow. If this is done, the boat will follow the desired track across the river from the departure point directly to the intended destination point. Should the boat not be headed sufficiently upstream, it would drift with the current and run aground at some point downstream on the opposite bank. Wind drift.
As soon as an airplane becomes airborne, it is free of ground friction. Its path is then affected by the air mass in which it is flying; therefore, the airplane (like the boat) will not always track along the ground in the exact direction that it is headed. When flying with the longitudinal axis of the airplane aligned with a road, it may be noted that the airplane gets closer to or farther from the road without any turn having been made. This would indicate that the air mass is moving sideward in relation to the airplane. Since the airplane is flying within this moving body of air (wind), it moves or drifts with the air in the same direction and speed, just like the boat moved with the river current.

When flying straight and level and following a selected ground track, the preferred method of correcting for wind drift is to head the airplane (wind correction angle) sufficiently into the wind to cause the airplane to move forward into the wind at the same rate the wind is moving it sideways. Depending on the wind velocity, this may require a large wind correction angle or one of only a few degrees. When the drift has been neutralized, the airplane will follow the desired ground track.

To understand the need for drift correction during flight, consider a flight with a wind velocity of 30 knots from the left and 90° to the direction the airplane is headed. After 1 hour, the body of air in which the airplane is flying will have moved 30 nautical miles (NM) to the right. Since the airplane is moving with this body of air, it too will have drifted 30 NM to the right. In relation to the air, the airplane moved forward, but in relation to the ground, it moved forward as well as 30 NM to the right.

There are times when the pilot needs to correct for drift while in a turn. Effect of wind during a turn.
Throughout the turn the wind will be acting on the airplane from constantly changing angles. The relative wind angle and speed govern the time it takes for the airplane to progress through any part of a turn. This is due to the constantly changing groundspeed. When the airplane is headed into the wind, the groundspeed is decreased; when headed downwind, the groundspeed is increased. Through the crosswind portion of a turn, the airplane must be turned sufficiently into the wind to counteract drift.

To follow a desired circular ground track, the wind correction angle must be varied in a timely manner because of the varying groundspeed as the turn progresses. The faster the groundspeed, the faster the wind correction angle must be established; the slower the groundspeed, the slower the wind correction angle may be established. It can be seen then that the steepest bank and fastest rate of turn should be made on the downwind portion of the turn and the shallowest bank and slowest rate of turn on the upwind portion.

The principles and techniques of varying the angle of bank to change the rate of turn and wind correction angle for controlling wind drift during a turn are the same for all ground track maneuvers involving changes in direction of flight.

When there is no wind, it should be simple to fly along a ground track with an arc of exactly 180° and a constant radius because the flightpath and ground track would be identical. This can be demonstrated by approaching a road at a 90° angle and, when directly over the road, rolling into a medium-banked turn, then maintaining the same angle of bank throughout the 180° of turn. Effect of wind during turns.

To complete the turn, the rollout should be started at a point where the wings will become level as the airplane again reaches the road at a 90° angle and will be directly over the road just as the turn is completed. This would be possible only if there were absolutely no wind and if the angle of bank and the rate of turn remained constant throughout the entire maneuver.

If the turn were made with a constant angle of bank and a wind blowing directly across the road, it would result in a constant radius turn through the air. However, the wind effects would cause the ground track to be distorted from a constant radius turn or semicircular path. The greater the wind velocity, the greater would be the difference between the desired ground track and the flightpath. To counteract this drift, the flightpath can be controlled by the pilot in such a manner as to neutralize the effect of the wind, and cause the ground track to be a constant radius semicircle.

The effects of wind during turns can be demonstrated after selecting a road, railroad, or other ground reference that forms a straight line parallel to the wind. Fly into the wind directly over and along the line and then make a turn with a constant medium angle of bank for 360° of turn.
The airplane will return to a point directly over the line but slightly downwind from the starting point, the amount depending on the wind velocity and the time required to complete the turn. The path over the ground will be an elongated circle, although in reference to the air it is a perfect circle. Straight flight during the upwind segment after completion of the turn is necessary to bring the airplane back to the starting position.

A similar 360° turn may be started at a specific point over the reference line, with the airplane headed directly downwind. In this demonstration, the effect of wind during the constant banked turn will drift the airplane to a point where the line is reintercepted, but the 360° turn will be completed at a point downwind from the starting point.

Another reference line which lies directly crosswind may be selected and the same procedure repeated, showing that if wind drift is not corrected the airplane will, at the completion of the 360° turn, be headed in the original direction but will have drifted away from the line a distance dependent on the amount of wind.

From these demonstrations, it can be seen where and why it is necessary to increase or decrease the angle of bank and the rate of turn to achieve a desired track over the ground. The principles and techniques involved can be practiced and evaluated by the performance of the ground track maneuvers discussed in this chapter.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Maneuvering By Reference To Ground Objects

Ground track or ground reference maneuvers are performed at a relatively low altitude while applying wind drift correction as needed to follow a predetermined track or path over the ground. They are designed to develop the ability to control the airplane, and to recognize and correct for the effect of wind while dividing attention among other matters. This requires planning ahead of the airplane, maintaining orientation in relation to ground objects, flying appropriate headings to follow a desired ground track, and being cognizant of other air traffic in the immediate vicinity.

Ground reference maneuvers should be flown at an altitude of approximately 600 to 1,000 feet AGL. The actual altitude will depend on the speed and type of airplane to a large extent, and the following factors should be considered.

The speed with relation to the ground should not be so apparent that events happen too rapidly.

The radius of the turn and the path of the airplane over the ground should be easily noted and
changes planned and effected as circumstances require.

Drift should be easily discernable, but not tax the student too much in making corrections.

Objects on the ground should appear in their proportion and size.

The altitude should be low enough to render any gain or loss apparent to the student, but in no case lower than 500 feet above the highest obstruction.

During these maneuvers, both the instructor and the student should be alert for available forced-landing fields. The area chosen should be away from communities, livestock, or groups of people to prevent possible annoyance or hazards to others. Due to the altitudes at which these maneuvers are performed, there is little time available to search for a suitable field for landing in the event the need arises.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Purpose And Scope - Ground Reference Maneuvers

Ground reference maneuvers and their related factors are used in developing a high degree of pilot skill. Although most of these maneuvers are not performed as such in normal everyday flying, the elements and principles involved in each are applicable to performance of the customary pilot operations. They aid the pilot in analyzing the effect of wind and other forces acting on the airplane and in developing a fine control touch, coordination, and the division of attention necessary for accurate and safe maneuvering of the airplane.

All of the early part of the pilot's training has been conducted at relatively high altitudes, and for the purpose of developing technique, knowledge of maneuvers, coordination, feel, and the handling of the airplane in general. This training will have required that most of the pilot's attention be given to the actual handling of the airplane, and the results of control pressures on the action and attitude of the airplane.

If permitted to continue beyond the appropriate training stage, however, the student pilot's concentration of attention will become a fixed habit, one that will seriously detract from the student's ease and safety as a pilot, and will be very difficult to eliminate. Therefore, it is necessary, as soon as the pilot shows proficiency in the fundamental maneuvers, that the pilot be introduced to maneuvers requiring outside attention on a practical application of these maneuvers and the knowledge gained.

It should be stressed that, during ground reference maneuvers, it is equally important that basic flying technique previously learned be maintained. The flight instructor should not allow any relaxation of the student's previous standard of technique simply because a new factor is added. This requirement should be maintained throughout the student's progress from maneuver to maneuver. Each new maneuver should embody some advance and include the principles of the preceding one in order that continuity be maintained. Each new factor introduced should be merely a step-up of one already learned so that orderly, consistent progress can be made.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Noise Abatement

Aircraft noise problems have become a major concern at many airports throughout the country. Many local communities have pressured airports into developing specific operational procedures that will help limit aircraft noise while operating over nearby areas. For years now, the FAA, airport managers, aircraft operators, pilots, and special interest groups have been working together to minimize aircraft noise for nearby sensitive areas. As a result, noise abatement procedures have been developed for many of these airports that include standardized profiles and procedures to achieve these lower noise goals.

Airports that have noise abatement procedures provide information to pilots, operators, air carriers, air traffic facilities, and other special groups that are applicable to their airport. These procedures are available to the aviation community by various means. Most of this information comes from the Airport/Facility Directory, local and regional publications, printed handouts, operator bulletin boards, safety briefings, and local air traffic facilities.

At airports that use noise abatement procedures, reminder signs may be installed at the taxiway hold positions for applicable runways. These are to remind pilots to use and comply with noise abatement procedures on departure. Pilots who are not familiar with these procedures should ask the tower or air traffic facility for the recommended procedures. In any case, pilots should be considerate of the surrounding community while operating their airplane to and from such an airport. This includes operating as quietly, yet safely as possible.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rejected Takeoff - Engine Failure

Emergency or abnormal situations can occur during a takeoff that will require a pilot to reject the takeoff while still on the runway. Circumstances such as a malfunctioning powerplant, inadequate acceleration, runway incursion, or air traffic conflict may be reasons for a rejected takeoff.

Prior to takeoff, the pilot should have in mind a point along the runway at which the airplane
should be airborne. If that point is reached and the airplane is not airborne, immediate action should be taken to discontinue the takeoff. Properly planned and executed, chances are excellent the airplane can be stopped on the remaining runway without using extraordinary measures, such as excessive braking that may result in loss of directional control, airplane damage, and/or personal injury.

In the event a takeoff is rejected, the power should be reduced to idle and maximum braking applied while maintaining directional control. If it is necessary to shut down the engine due to a fire, the mixture control should be brought to the idle cutoff position and the magnetos turned off. In all cases, the manufacturer's emergency procedure should be followed.

What characterizes all power loss or engine failure occurrences after lift-off is urgency. In most instances, the pilot has only a few seconds after an engine failure to decide what course of action to take and to execute it. Unless prepared in advance to make the proper decision, there is an excellent chance the pilot will make a poor decision, or make no decision at all and allow events to rule.

In the event of an engine failure on initial climb-out, the pilot's first responsibility is to maintain aircraft control. At a climb pitch attitude without power, the airplane will be at or near a stalling angle of attack. At the same time, the pilot may still be holding right rudder. It is essential the pilot immediately lower the pitch attitude to prevent a stall and possible spin. The pilot should establish a controlled glide toward a plausible landing area (preferably straight ahead on the remaining runway).

Initial Climb - Soft-Rough-Field Takeoff And Climb

After a positive rate of climb is established, and the airplane has accelerated to VY, retract the landing gear and flaps, if equipped. If departing from an airstrip with wet snow or slush on the takeoff surface, the gear should not be retracted immediately. This allows for any wet snow or slush to be air-dried. In the event an obstacle must be cleared after a soft-field takeoff, the climb-out is performed at VX until the obstacle has been cleared. After reaching this point, the pitch attitude is adjusted to VY and the gear and flaps are retracted. The power may then be reduced to the normal climb setting.

Common errors in the performance of soft/rough field takeoff and climbs are:

Failure to adequately clear the area.

Insufficient back-elevator pressure during initial takeoff roll resulting in inadequate angle of attack.

Failure to cross-check engine instruments for indications of proper operation after applying power.

Poor directional control.

Climbing too steeply after lift-off.

Abrupt and/or excessive elevator control while attempting to level off and accelerate after liftoff.

Allowing the airplane to "mush" or settle resulting in an inadvertent touchdown after lift-off.

Attempting to climb out of ground effect area before attaining sufficient climb speed.

Failure to anticipate an increase in pitch attitude as the airplane climbs out of ground effect.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lift-Off - Soft-Rough-Field Takeoff And Climb

After becoming airborne, the nose should be lowered very gently with the wheels clear of the surface to allow the airplane to accelerate to VY, or VX if obstacles must be cleared. Extreme care must be exercised immediately after the airplane becomes airborne and while it accelerates, to avoid settling back onto the surface. An attempt to climb prematurely or too steeply may cause the airplane to settle back to the surface as a result of losing the benefit of ground effect. An attempt to climb out of ground effect before sufficient climb airspeed is attained may result in the airplane being unable to climb further as the ground effect area is transited, even with full power. Therefore, it is essential that the airplane remain in ground effect until at least VX is reached. This requires feel for the airplane, and a very fine control touch, in order to avoid over-controlling the elevator as required control pressures change with airplane acceleration.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Takeoff Roll - Soft-Rough-Field Takeoff And Climb

As the airplane is aligned with the takeoff path, takeoff power is applied smoothly and as rapidly as the power- plant will accept it without faltering. As the airplane accelerates, enough back-elevator pressure should be applied to establish a positive angle of attack and to reduce the weight supported by the nosewheel.

When the airplane is held at a nose-high attitude throughout the takeoff run, the wings will, as speed increases and lift develops, progressively relieve the wheels of more and more of the airplane's weight, thereby minimizing the drag caused by surface irregularities or adhesion. If this attitude is accurately maintained, the airplane will virtually fly itself off the ground, becoming airborne at airspeed slower than a safe climb speed because of ground effect. Soft field takeoff.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Soft-Rough-Field Takeoff And Climb

Takeoffs and climbs from soft fields require the use of operational techniques for getting the airplane airborne as quickly as possible to eliminate the drag caused by tall grass, soft sand, mud, and snow, and may or may not require climbing over an obstacle. The technique makes judicious use of ground effect and requires a feel for the airplane and fine control touch. These same techniques are also useful on a rough field where it is advisable to get the airplane off the ground as soon as possible to avoid damaging the landing gear.

Soft surfaces or long, wet grass usually reduces the airplane's acceleration during the takeoff roll so much that adequate takeoff speed might not be attained if normal takeoff techniques were employed.

It should be emphasized that the correct takeoff procedure for soft fields is quite different from
that appropriate for short fields with firm, smooth surfaces. To minimize the hazards associated with takeoffs from soft or rough fields, support of the airplane's weight must be transferred as rapidly as possible from the wheels to the wings as the takeoff roll proceeds. Establishing and maintaining a relatively high angle of attack or nose-high pitch attitude as early as possible does this. Wing flaps may be lowered prior to starting the takeoff (if recommended by the manufacturer) to provide additional lift and to transfer the airplane's weight from the wheels to the wings as early as possible.

Stopping on a soft surface, such as mud or snow, might bog the airplane down; therefore, it should be kept in continuous motion with sufficient power while lining up for the takeoff roll.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Initial Climb - Ground Effect On Takeoff

On short-field takeoffs, the landing gear and flaps should remain in takeoff position until clear of obstacles (or as recommended by the manufacturer) and VY has been established. It is generally unwise for the pilot to be looking in the cockpit or reaching for landing gear and flap controls until obstacle clearance is assured. When the airplane is stabilized at VY, the gear (if equipped) and then the flaps should be retracted. It is usually advisable to raise the flaps in increments to avoid sudden loss of lift and settling of the airplane. Next, reduce the power to the normal climb setting or as recommended by the airplane manufacturer.

Common errors in the performance of short-field takeoffs and maximum performance climbs are:

Failure to adequately clear the area.

Failure to utilize all available runway/takeoff area.

Failure to have the airplane properly trimmed prior to takeoff.

Premature lift-off resulting in high drag.

Holding the airplane on the ground unnecessarily with excessive forward-elevator pressure.

Inadequate rotation resulting in excessive speed after lift-off.

Inability to attain/maintain best angle-of-climb airspeed.

Fixation on the airspeed indicator during initial climb.

Premature retraction of landing gear and/or wing flaps.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lift-Off - Ground Effect On Takeoff

Approaching best angle-of-climb speed (VX), the airplane
should be smoothly and firmly lifted off, or rotated, by
applying back-elevator pressure to an attitude that will
result in the best angle-of-climb airspeed (VX). Since the
airplane will accelerate more rapidly after lift-off, additional back-elevator pressure becomes necessary to hold a
constant airspeed. After becoming airborne, a wings level
climb should be maintained at VX until obstacles have
been cleared or, if no obstacles are involved, until an altitude of at least 50 feet above the takeoff surface is attained.
Thereafter, the pitch attitude may be lowered slightly, and
the climb continued at best rate-of-climb speed (VY) until
reaching a safe maneuvering altitude. Remember that an
attempt to pull the airplane off the ground prematurely, or
to climb too steeply, may cause the airplane to settle back
to the runway or into the obstacles. Even if the airplane
remains airborne, the initial climb will remain flat and
climb performance/obstacle clearance ability seriously
degraded until best angle-of-climb airspeed (VX) is
achieved. Effect of premature lift-off

The objective is to rotate to the appropriate pitch attitude at (or near) best angle-of-climb airspeed. It should
be remembered, however, that some airplanes will
have a natural tendency to lift off well before reaching
VX. In these airplanes, it may be necessary to allow the
airplane to lift off in ground effect and then reduce
pitch attitude to level until the airplane accelerates to
best angle-of-climb airspeed with the wheels just clear
of the runway surface. This method is preferable to
forcing the airplane to remain on the ground with forward-elevator pressure until best angle-of-climb speed
is attained. Holding the airplane on the ground unnecessarily puts excessive pressure on the nosewheel, may
result in "wheelbarrowing," and will hinder both
acceleration and overall airplane performance.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Takeoff Roll - Ground Effect On Takeoff

Taking off from a short field requires the takeoff to be
started from the very beginning of the takeoff area. At
this point, the airplane is aligned with the intended
takeoff path. If the airplane manufacturer recommends
the use of flaps, they should be extended the proper
amount before starting the takeoff roll. This permits
the pilot to give full attention to the proper technique
and the airplane's performance throughout the takeoff.

Some authorities prefer to hold the brakes until the
maximum obtainable engine r.p.m. is achieved before
allowing the airplane to begin its takeoff run. However,
it has not been established that this procedure will
result in a shorter takeoff run in all light single-engine
airplanes. Takeoff power should be applied smoothly
and continuously—without hesitation—to accelerate
the airplane as rapidly as possible. The airplane should
be allowed to roll with its full weight on the main
wheels and accelerated to the lift-off speed. As the
takeoff roll progresses, the airplane's pitch attitude and
angle of attack should be adjusted to that which results
in the minimum amount of drag and the quickest acceleration. In nosewheel-type airplanes, this will involve
little use of the elevator control, since the airplane is
already in a low drag attitude.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Short-Field Takeoff And Maximum Performance Climb

Takeoffs and climbs from fields where the takeoff area
is short or the available takeoff area is restricted by
obstructions require that the pilot operate the airplane
at the limit of its takeoff performance capabilities. To
depart from such an area safely, the pilot must exercise
positive and precise control of airplane attitude and
airspeed so that takeoff and climb performance results
in the shortest ground roll and the steepest angle of
climb. Short-field takeoff

The achieved result should be consistent with the
performance section of the FAA-approved Airplane
Flight Manual and/or Pilot's Operating Handbook
(AFM/POH). In all cases, the power setting, flap
setting, airspeed, and procedures prescribed by the
airplane's manufacturer should be followed.

In order to accomplish a maximum performance takeoff safely, the pilot must have adequate knowledge in
the use and effectiveness of the best angle-of-climb
speed (VX) and the best rate-of-climb speed (VY) for
the specific make and model of airplane being flown.

The speed for VX is that which will result in the
greatest gain in altitude for a given distance over the
ground. It is usually slightly less than VY which provides the greatest gain in altitude per unit of time.
The specific speeds to be used for a given airplane
are stated in the FAA-approved AFM/POH. It should
be emphasized that in some airplanes, a deviation of
5 knots from the recommended speed will result in a
significant reduction in climb performance.
Therefore, precise control of airspeed has an important bearing on the successful execution as well as
the safety of the maneuver.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ground Effect On Takeoff

Ground effect is a condition of improved performance encountered when the airplane is operating
very close to the ground. Ground effect can be
detected and measured up to an altitude equal to one
wingspan above the surface. Takeoff in ground effect area

ground effect is most significant when the airplane
(especially a low-wing airplane) is maintaining a
constant attitude at low airspeed at low altitude (for
example, during takeoff when the airplane lifts off
and accelerates to climb speed, and during the landing flare before touchdown).

When the wing is under the influence of ground effect,
there is a reduction in upwash, downwash, and wingtip
vortices. As a result of the reduced wingtip vortices,
induced drag is reduced. When the wing is at a height
equal to one-fourth the span, the reduction in induced
drag is about 25 percent, and when the wing is at a
height equal to one-tenth the span, the reduction in
induced drag is about 50 percent. At high speeds where
parasite drag dominates, induced drag is a small part of
the total drag. Consequently, the effects of ground effect
are of greater concern during takeoff and landing.

On takeoff, the takeoff roll, lift-off, and the beginning
of the initial climb are accomplished in the ground
effect area. The ground effect causes local increases in
static pressure, which cause the airspeed indicator and
altimeter to indicate slightly less than they should, and
usually results in the vertical speed indicator indicating a descent. As the airplane lifts off and climbs out of
the ground effect area, however, the following will

  • The airplane will require an increase in angle of
    attack to maintain the same lift coefficient.

  • The airplane will experience an increase in
    induced drag and thrust required.

  • The airplane will experience a pitch-up tendency
    and will require less elevator travel because of an
    increase in downwash at the horizontal tail.

  • The airplane will experience a reduction in static
    source pressure as it leaves the ground effect area
    and a corresponding increase in indicated airspeed.

Due to the reduced drag in ground effect, the airplane
may seem to be able to take off below the recommended airspeed. However, as the airplane rises out of
ground effect with an insufficient airspeed, initial
climb performance may prove to be marginal because
of the increased drag. Under conditions of high-density altitude, high temperature, and/or maximum gross
weight, the airplane may be able to become airborne at
an insufficient airspeed, but unable to climb out of
ground effect. Consequently, the airplane may not be
able to clear obstructions, or may settle back on the
runway. The point to remember is that additional
power is required to compensate for increases in drag
that occur as an airplane leaves ground effect. But during an initial climb, the engine is already developing
maximum power. The only alternative is to lower pitch
attitude to gain additional airspeed, which will result in
inevitable altitude loss. Therefore, under marginal conditions, it is important that the airplane takes off at the
recommended speed that will provide adequate initial
climb performance.

Ground effect is important to normal flight operations.
If the runway is long enough, or if no obstacles exist,
ground effect can be used to an advantage by using the
reduced drag to improve initial acceleration.
Additionally, the procedure for takeoff from unsatisfactory surfaces is to take as much weight on the wings
as possible during the ground run, and to lift off with
the aid of ground effect before true flying speed is
attained. It is then necessary to reduce the angle of
attack to attain normal airspeed before attempting to
fly away from the ground effect area.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Initial Climb - Crosswind Takeoff

If proper crosswind correction is being applied, as soon
as the airplane is airborne, it will be sideslipping into the
wind sufficiently to counteract the drifting effect of the
wind. Crosswind climb flightpath.
This sideslipping should be continued
until the airplane has a positive rate of climb. At that time,
the airplane should be turned into the wind to establish
just enough wind correction angle to counteract the wind
and then the wings rolled level. Firm and aggressive use
of the rudders will be required to keep the airplane headed
straight down the runway. The climb with a wind correction angle should be continued to follow a ground track
aligned with the runway direction. However, because the
force of a crosswind may vary markedly within a few
hundred feet of the ground, frequent checks of actual
ground track should be made, and the wind correction
adjusted as necessary. The remainder of the climb technique is the same used for normal takeoffs and climbs.

Common errors in the performance of crosswind takeoffs are:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area prior to taxiing onto the active runway.

  • Using less than full aileron pressure into the
    wind initially on the takeoff roll.

  • Mechanical use of aileron control rather than
    sensing the need for varying aileron control
    input through feel for the airplane.

  • Premature lift-off resulting in side-skipping.

  • Excessive aileron input in the latter stage of the
    takeoff roll resulting in a steep bank into the wind
    at lift-off.

  • Inadequate drift correction after lift-off.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lift-Off - Crosswind Takeoff

As the nosewheel is being raised off the runway, the
holding of aileron control into the wind may result in

the downwind wing rising and the downwind main
wheel lifting off the runway first, with the remainder
of the takeoff roll being made on that one main wheel.
This is acceptable and is preferable to side-skipping.

If a significant crosswind exists, the main wheels
should be held on the ground slightly longer than in a
normal takeoff so that a smooth but very definite liftoff can be made. This procedure will allow the airplane to leave the ground under more positive control
so that it will definitely remain airborne while the
proper amount of wind correction is being established.
More importantly, this procedure will avoid imposing
excessive side-loads on the landing gear and prevent
possible damage that would result from the airplane
settling back to the runway while drifting.

As both main wheels leave the runway and ground
friction no longer resists drifting, the airplane will be
slowly carried sideways with the wind unless adequate
drift correction is maintained by the pilot. Therefore, it
is important to establish and maintain the proper
amount of crosswind correction prior to lift-off by
applying aileron pressure toward the wind to keep the
upwind wing from rising and applying rudder pressure
as needed to prevent weathervaning.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Takeoff Roll - Crosswind Takeoff

The technique used during the initial takeoff roll in a
crosswind is generally the same as used in a normal
takeoff, except that aileron control must be held INTO
the crosswind. This raises the aileron on the upwind
wing to impose a downward force on the wing to counteract
the lifting force of the crosswind and prevents
the wing from rising.

As the airplane is taxied into takeoff position, it is essential
that the windsock and other wind direction indicators
be checked so that the presence of a crosswind may be
recognized and anticipated. If a crosswind is indicated,
FULL aileron should be held into the wind as the takeoff
roll is started. This control position should be maintained
while the airplane is accelerating and until the ailerons
start becoming sufficiently effective for maneuvering the
airplane about its longitudinal axis.

With the aileron held into the wind, the takeoff path
must be held straight with the rudder. Crosswind takeoff roll and initial climb.

Normally, this will require applying downwind rudder
pressure, since on the ground the airplane will tend to
weathervane into the wind. When takeoff power is
applied, torque or P-factor that yaws the airplane to the
left may be sufficient to counteract the weathervaning
tendency caused by a crosswind from the right. On the
other hand, it may also aggravate the tendency to

swerve left when the wind is from the left. In any case,
whatever rudder pressure is required to keep the airplane rolling straight down the runway should be

As the forward speed of the airplane increases and the
crosswind becomes more of a relative headwind, the
mechanical holding of full aileron into the wind should
be reduced. It is when increasing pressure is being felt
on the aileron control that the ailerons are becoming
more effective. As the aileron's effectiveness increases
and the crosswind component of the relative wind
becomes less effective, it will be necessary to gradually
reduce the aileron pressure. The crosswind component
effect does not completely vanish, so some aileron pressure will have to be maintained throughout the takeoff
roll to keep the crosswind from raising the upwind wing.
If the upwind wing rises, thus exposing more surface to
the crosswind, a "skipping" action may result. Crosswind effect.

This is usually indicated by a series of very small
bounces, caused by the airplane attempting to fly
and then settling back onto the runway. During these
bounces, the crosswind also tends to move the airplane sideways, and these bounces will develop into
side-skipping. This side-skipping imposes severe
side stresses on the landing gear and could result in
structural failure.

It is important, during a crosswind takeoff roll, to hold
sufficient aileron into the wind not only to keep the
upwind wing from rising but to hold that wing down so
that the airplane will, immediately after lift-off, be
side slipping into the wind enough to counteract drift.

Crosswind Takeoff

While it is usually preferable to take off directly into
the wind whenever possible or practical, there will
be many instances when circumstances or judgment
will indicate otherwise. Therefore, the pilot must be
familiar with the principles and techniques involved
in crosswind takeoffs, as well as those for normal
takeoffs. A crosswind will affect the airplane during
takeoff much as it does in taxiing. With this in mind,
it can be seen that the technique for crosswind
correction during takeoffs closely parallels the
crosswind correction techniques used in taxiing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Initial Climb - Takeoffs And Departure Climbs

Upon lift-off, the airplane should be flying at approximately the pitch attitude that will allow it to accelerate
to VY. This is the speed at which the airplane will gain
the most altitude in the shortest period of time.

If the airplane has been properly trimmed, some back-
elevator pressure may be required to hold this attitude
until the proper climb speed is established. On the
other hand, relaxation of any back-elevator pressure
before this time may result in the airplane settling,
even to the extent that it contacts the runway.

The airplane will pick up speed rapidly after it
becomes airborne. Once a positive rate of climb is
established, the flaps and landing gear can be retracted
(if equipped).

It is recommended that takeoff power be maintained
until reaching an altitude of at least 500 feet above the
surrounding terrain or obstacles. The combination of
VY and takeoff power assures the maximum altitude
gained in a minimum amount of time. This gives the
pilot more altitude from which the airplane can be
safely maneuvered in case of an engine failure or other

Since the power on the initial climb is fixed at the takeoff
power setting, the airspeed must be controlled by making
slight pitch adjustments using the elevators. However,
the pilot should not fixate on the airspeed indicator when
making these pitch changes, but should, instead, continue
to scan outside to adjust the airplane's attitude in relation
to the horizon. In accordance with the principles of attitude flying, the pilot should first make the necessary
pitch change with reference to the natural horizon and
hold the new attitude momentarily, and then glance at the
airspeed indicator as a check to see if the new attitude is
correct. Due to inertia, the airplane will not accelerate or
decelerate immediately as the pitch is changed. It takes a
little time for the airspeed to change. If the pitch attitude
has been over or under corrected, the airspeed indicator
will show a speed that is more or less than that desired.
When this occurs, the cross-checking and appropriate
pitch-changing process must be repeated until the desired
climbing attitude is established.

When the correct pitch attitude has been attained, it
should be held constant while cross-checking it against
the horizon and other outside visual references. The

airspeed indicator should be used only as a check to
determine if the attitude is correct.

After the recommended climb airspeed has been established, and a safe maneuvering altitude has been
reached, the power should be adjusted to the recommended climb setting and the airplane trimmed to
relieve the control pressures. This will make it easier
to hold a constant attitude and airspeed.

During initial climb, it is important that the takeoff
path remain aligned with the runway to avoid drifting
into obstructions, or the path of another aircraft that
may be taking off from a parallel runway. Proper scanning techniques are essential to a safe takeoff and
climb, not only for maintaining attitude and direction,
but also for collision avoidance in the airport area.

When the student pilot nears the solo stage of flight
training, it should be explained that the airplane's
takeoff performance will be much different when the
instructor is out of the airplane. Due to decreased
load, the airplane will become airborne sooner and
will climb more rapidly. The pitch attitude that the
student has learned to associate with initial climb
may also differ due to decreased weight, and the
flight controls may seem more sensitive. If the situation is unexpected, it may result in increased tension
that may remain until after the landing. Frequently,
the existence of this tension and the uncertainty that
develops due to the perception of an "abnormal"
takeoff results in poor performance on the subsequent landing.

Common errors in the performance of normal takeoffs
and departure climbs are:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area prior to taxiing into position on the active runway.

  • Abrupt use of the throttle.

  • Failure to check engine instruments for signs of
    malfunction after applying takeoff power.

  • Failure to anticipate the airplane's left turning
    tendency on initial acceleration.

  • Overcorrecting for left turning tendency.

  • Relying solely on the airspeed indicator rather
    than developed feel for indications of speed and
    airplane controllability during acceleration and

  • Failure to attain proper lift-off attitude.

  • Inadequate compensation for torque/P-factor
    during initial climb resulting in a sideslip.

  • Over-control of elevators during initial climb-

  • Limiting scan to areas directly ahead of the airplane
    (pitch attitude and direction), resulting in
    allowing a wing (usually the left) to drop
    immediately after lift-off.

  • Failure to attain/maintain best rate-of-climb airspeed
  • Failure to employ the principles of attitude flying
    during climb-out, resulting in "chasing" the airspeed

Friday, March 13, 2009

S-Turns Across A Road

An S-turn across a road is a practice maneuver in
which the airplane's ground track describes semicircles
of equal radii on each side of a selected straight
line on the ground. S-Turns.
The straight line may
be a road, fence, railroad, or section line that lies perpendicular
to the wind, and should be of sufficient
length for making a series of turns. A constant altitude
should be maintained throughout the maneuver.

S-turns across a road present one of the most elementary
problems in the practical application of the turn
and in the correction for wind drift in turns. While the
application of this maneuver is considerably less
advanced in some respects than the rectangular course,
it is taught after the student has been introduced to that
maneuver in order that the student may have a knowledge
of the correction for wind drift in straight flight
along a reference line before the student attempt to
correct for drift by playing a turn.

The objectives of S-turns across a road are to develop
the ability to compensate for drift during turns, orient
the flightpath with ground references, follow an
assigned ground track, arrive at specified points on
assigned headings, and divide the pilot's attention. The

maneuver consists of crossing the road at a 90° angle
and immediately beginning a series of 180° turns of
uniform radius in opposite directions, re-crossing the
road at a 90° angle just as each 180° turn is completed.

To accomplish a constant radius ground track requires
a changing roll rate and angle of bank to establish the
wind correction angle. Both will increase or decrease
as groundspeed increases or decreases.

The bank must be steepest when beginning the turn on
the downwind side of the road and must be shallowed
gradually as the turn progresses from a downwind
heading to an upwind heading. On the upwind side, the
turn should be started with a relatively shallow bank
and then gradually steepened as the airplane turns from
an upwind heading to a downwind heading.

In this maneuver, the airplane should be rolled from
one bank directly into the opposite just as the reference
line on the ground is crossed.

Before starting the maneuver, a straight ground reference line or road that lies 90° to the direction of the
wind should be selected, then the area checked to
ensure that no obstructions or other aircraft are in the
immediate vicinity. The road should be approached
from the upwind side, at the selected altitude on a
downwind heading. When directly over the road, the
first turn should be started immediately. With the airplane headed downwind, the groundspeed is greatest
and the rate of departure from the road will be rapid;
so the roll into the steep bank must be fairly rapid to
attain the proper wind correction angle. This prevents
the airplane from flying too far from the road and
from establishing a ground track of excessive radius.

During the latter portion of the first 90° of turn when
the airplane's heading is changing from a downwind
heading to a crosswind heading, the groundspeed
becomes less and the rate of departure from the road
decreases. The wind correction angle will be at the
maximum when the airplane is headed directly crosswind.

After turning 90°, the airplane's heading becomes
more and more an upwind heading, the groundspeed
will decrease, and the rate of closure with the road
will become slower. If a constant steep bank were
maintained, the airplane would turn too quickly for
the slower rate of closure, and would be headed perpendicular to the road prematurely. Because of the
decreasing groundspeed and rate of closure while
approaching the upwind heading, it will be necessary
to gradually shallow the bank during the remaining
90° of the semicircle, so that the wind correction
angle is removed completely and the wings become
level as the 180° turn is completed at the moment the
road is reached.

At the instant the road is being crossed again, a turn in
the opposite direction should be started. Since the airplane is still flying into the headwind, the groundspeed
is relatively slow. Therefore, the turn will have to be
started with a shallow bank so as to avoid an excessive
rate of turn that would establish the maximum wind
correction angle too soon. The degree of bank should
be that which is necessary to attain the proper wind
correction angle so the ground track describes an arc
the same size as the one established on the downwind

Since the airplane is turning from an upwind to a
downwind heading, the groundspeed will increase
and after turning 90°, the rate of closure with the road
will increase rapidly. Consequently, the angle of bank
and rate of turn must be progressively increased so
that the airplane will have turned 180° at the time it
reaches the road. Again, the rollout must be timed so
the airplane is in straight-and-level flight directly
over and perpendicular to the road.


ghout the maneuver a constant altitude should
be maintained, and the bank should be changing
constantly to effect a true semicircular ground track.

Often there is a tendency to increase the bank too
rapidly during the initial part of the turn on the
upwind side, which will prevent the completion of
the 180° turn before re-crossing the road. This is
apparent when the turn is not completed in time for
the airplane to cross the road at a perpendicular
angle. To avoid this error, the pilot must visualize the
desired half circle ground track, and increase the
bank during the early part of this turn. During the latter part of the turn, when approaching the road, the
pilot must judge the closure rate properly and
increase the bank accordingly, so as to cross the road
perpendicular to it just as the rollout is completed.

Common errors in the performance of S-turns across a
road are:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area.

  • Poor coordination.

  • Gaining or losing altitude.

  • Inability to visualize the half circle ground track.

  • Poor timing in beginning and recovering from

  • Faulty correction for drift.

  • Inadequate visual lookout for other aircraft.

Lift-Off - Takeoffs And Departure Climbs

Since a good takeoff depends on the proper takeoff
attitude, it is important to know how this attitude
appears and how it is attained. The ideal takeoff attitude requires only minimum pitch adjustments
shortly after the airplane lifts off to attain the speed
for the best rate of climb (VY). Initial roll and takeoff attitude.
The pitch
attitude necessary for the airplane to accelerate to VY
speed should be demonstrated by the instructor and
memorized by the student. Initially, the student pilot
may have a tendency to hold excessive back-elevator
pressure just after lift-off, resulting in an abrupt pitch-
up. The flight instructor should be prepared for this.

Each type of airplane has a best pitch attitude for
normal lift-off; however, varying conditions may
make a difference in the required takeoff technique.
A rough field, a smooth field, a hard surface runway,
or a short or soft, muddy field, all call for a slightly

different technique, as will smooth air in contrast to
a strong, gusty wind. The different techniques for
those other-than-normal conditions are discussed
later in this chapter.

When all the flight controls become effective during
the takeoff roll in a nosewheel-type airplane, back-
elevator pressure should be gradually applied to
raise the nosewheel slightly off the runway, thus
establishing the takeoff or lift-off attitude. This is
often referred to as "rotating." At this point, the
position of the nose in relation to the horizon should
be noted, then back-elevator pressure applied as
necessary to hold this attitude. The wings must be
kept level by applying aileron pressure as necessary.

The airplane is allowed to fly off the ground while in
the normal takeoff attitude. Forcing it into the air by
applying excessive back-elevator pressure would only
result in an excessively high pitch attitude and may
delay the takeoff. As discussed earlier, excessive and
rapid changes in pitch attitude result in proportionate
changes in the effects of torque, thus making the airplane more difficult to control.

Although the airplane can be forced into the air, this is
considered an unsafe practice and should be avoided
under normal circumstances. If the airplane is forced
to leave the ground by using too much back-elevator
pressure before adequate flying speed is attained, the
wing's angle of attack may be excessive, causing the
airplane to settle back to the runway or even to stall.
On the other hand, if sufficient back-elevator pressure
is not held to maintain the correct takeoff attitude after
becoming airborne, or the nose is allowed to lower
excessively, the airplane may also settle back to the
runway. This would occur because the angle of attack
is decreased and lift diminished to the degree where it
will not support the airplane. It is important, then, to
hold the correct attitude constant after rotation or liftoff.

As the airplane leaves the ground, the pilot must
continue to be concerned with maintaining the
wings in a level attitude, as well as holding the
proper pitch attitude. Outside visual scan to
attain/maintain proper airplane pitch and bank attitude must be intensified at this critical point. The
flight controls have not yet become fully effective,
and the beginning pilot will often have a tendency
to fixate on the airplane's pitch attitude and/or the
airspeed indicator and neglect the natural tendency
of the airplane to roll just after breaking ground.

During takeoffs in a strong, gusty wind, it is advisable
that an extra margin of speed be obtained before the
airplane is allowed to leave the ground. A takeoff at the
normal takeoff speed may result in a lack of positive

control, or a stall, when the airplane encounters a
sudden lull in strong, gusty wind, or other turbulent
air currents. In this case, the pilot should allow the
airplane to stay on the ground longer to attain more
speed; then make a smooth, positive rotation to leave
the ground.

Takeoff Roll - Takeoffs And Departure Climbs

After taxiing onto the runway, the airplane should be
carefully aligned with the intended takeoff direction,
and the nose wheel positioned straight, or centered.
After releasing the brakes, the throttle should be
advanced smoothly and continuously to takeoff power.
An abrupt application of power may cause the airplane
to yaw sharply to the left because of the torque effects
of the engine and propeller. This will be most apparent
in high horsepower engines. As the airplane starts to
roll forward, the pilot should assure both feet are on

the rudder pedals so that the toes or balls of the feet are
on the rudder portions, not on the brake portions.
Engine instruments should be monitored during the
takeoff roll for any malfunctions.

In nose wheel-type airplanes, pressures on the elevator
control are not necessary beyond those needed to
steady it. Applying unnecessary pressure will only
aggravate the takeoff and prevent the pilot from recognizing when elevator control pressure is actually
needed to establish the takeoff attitude.

As speed is gained, the elevator control will tend to
assume a neutral position if the airplane is correctly
trimmed. At the same time, directional control should
be maintained with smooth, prompt, positive rudder
corrections throughout the takeoff roll. The effects of
engine torque and P-factor at the initial speeds tend to
pull the nose to the left. The pilot must use whatever
rudder pressure and aileron needed to correct for these
effects or for existing wind conditions to keep the nose
of the airplane headed straight down the runway. The
use of brakes for steering purposes should be avoided,
since this will cause slower acceleration of the airplane's speed, lengthen the takeoff distance, and
possibly result in severe swerving.

While the speed of the takeoff roll increases, more
and more pressure will be felt on the flight controls,
particularly the elevators and rudder. If the tail surfaces are affected by the propeller slipstream, they
become effective first. As the speed continues to
increase, all of the flight controls will gradually
become effective enough to maneuver the airplane
about its three axes. It is at this point, in the taxi to
flight transition, that the airplane is being flown more
than taxied. As this occurs, progressively smaller
rudder deflections are needed to maintain direction.

The feel of resistance to the movement of the controls and the airplane's reaction to such movements
are the only real indicators of the degree of control
attained. This feel of resistance is not a measure of
the airplane's speed, but rather of its control ability.
To determine the degree of control ability, the pilot
must be conscious of the reaction of the airplane to
the control pressures and immediately adjust the
pressures as needed to control the airplane. The pilot
must wait for the reaction of the airplane to the
applied control pressures and attempt to sense the
control resistance to pressure rather than attempt to
control the airplane by movement of the controls.
Balanced control surfaces increase the importance
of this point, because they materially reduce the
intensity of the resistance offered to pressures
exerted by the pilot.

At this stage of training, beginning takeoff practice, a
student pilot will normally not have a full appreciation
of the variations of control pressures with the speed of
the airplane. The student, therefore, may tend to move
the controls through wide ranges seeking the pressures
that are familiar and expected, and as a consequence
over-control the airplane. The situation may be aggravated by the sluggish reaction of the airplane to these
movements. The flight instructor should take measures
to check these tendencies and stress the importance of
the development of feel. The student pilot should be
required to feel lightly for resistance and accomplish
the desired results by applying pressure against it. This
practice will enable the student pilot, as experience is
gained, to achieve a sense of the point when sufficient
speed has been acquired for the takeoff, instead of
merely guessing, fixating on the airspeed indicator, or
trying to force performance from the airplane.