From Ground to Air

Runway Hold Position

After engine run-up will come taxiing up to the runway where you will stop on the solid side of the runway hold-short of the double yellow lines until cleared to proceed by ATC (Air Traffic Control).

Lights, Camera, Action

We are not filming a movie here, but this is a good way to remember to the next sequence of events that are taking place.

As far as lights go, the landing and/or taxi lights should be turned on for takeoff, landing or performing maneuvers which will allow greater visibility to the tower and other aircraft. These lights will help to identify your aircraft to help avoid collisions as well.

The camera reference pertains to the transponder which your radar return more visible in addition to supplying information to Air Traffic Control (ATC).

When setting the transponder, the standard Visual Flight Rules transponder code is 1200 or whatever is assigned by ATC. Set transponder to Altitude mode and keep in mind that some transponders will automatically set the transponder to 1200 above 35 knots.

The last part, action, refers to the air to fuel mixture which you will set prior to takeoff. To ensure that the correct mixture is set, the normal setting will be fully pushed in or the “full rich” position although if operating at a higher altitude/higher elevation airport, this mixture may need to be changed appropriately.

To the Runway

before taxiing on the runway, it is important that you are clear to takeoff. If operating at an airport without a control tower, you will need to call and state your intentions over the common traffic advisory frequency also known as CTAF.

For airports with an operating control tower, the process is a little different. You will call and receive a clearance to takeoff. The controller may respond in various ways for example:

line up and wait – this is not the final clearance to take off but with this command, you will taxi on to the runway while you line up on the centerline and hold for final takeoff clearance.

Once you have received the clearance from the tower and/or announced your intentions on the CTAF to take off, you will need to visually look towards the final approach to make sure there are no incoming aircrafts. Once you have made the determination that is it clear, you verbally say “Clear Final”.

Once you have visually and verbally confirmed that the runway is clear from incoming aircrafts, you are ready for take off so proceed to taxi onto the runway and line up straight on the centerline which will give you maximum space on either side for takeoff.

Make sure the nose wheel is straight which will help to prevent making a sharp turn.

Next, come to a complete stop which will allow you to focus you efforts on taxiing first then full efforts on takeoff second. There may be times when ut us necessary to takeoff without stopping, known as a rolling stop.

With your heels on the floor and the backs of your feet on the rudder pedal, you will be sure to keep your feet off the brakes.

This next step involves many tasks simultaneously and quickly as you will be giving the aircraft full power, checking gauges and determining planning to abort if any issues. Let’s continue.

  • Give the airplane maximum power by pushing the throttle fully while keeping your hand on the throttle for takeoff roll. This ensures that should you need to about takeoff, you hand will already be positioned in the correct spot to pull the throttle back.
  • Very quickly and briefly, glance at the engine instrument panel to ensure that your instruments are “in the green” which will include the oil pressure and  RPM. If anything is not correct this is the time to about the takeoff and reduce engine power by pulling back on the throttle.

As a training resource, there may be helpful verbal announcements that will help to ensure these steps are visually and communicatively performed.

By saying “Takeoff” when the throttle is fully pressed giving the aircraft full power, you acknowledge that you have in fact given the aircraft full power.

Next, by saying “gages green”, this is an indication that you have in fact looked at the gauges to determine that they are green and thus confirmed their status.

Finally, once you get the first airspeed indication, the saying “airspeed alive” will convey the message that the aircraft is in movement, gaining speed and preparing to take flight.

Steering – now that the aircraft is moving forward at full engine power your attention will be focussed on ensuring that the aircraft remains centered on the runway while gaining the speed necessary for liftoff. There are several things to keep ion mind including the following:

  • As opposed to looking down immediately, focus your attention down the runway which will also help to determine how far you are going and where the end of the runway is.
  • The way to keep the aircraft on the centerline is by the use of the rudder pedals in which you will need to make small adjustments to as the aircraft moves forward. in the Cessna 162 Skycatcher, this is accomplished via slight brake pressure at the beginning of the takeoff roll. Both heels should eb on the floor once the rudder is effective for steering.
  • In order to help stay straight, look halfway down the runway which will make steering easier and your left to right corrections will be smaller.
  • It is common for the aircraft to veer to the left during takeoff due to the movement of the propeller spinning. For this reason, there may need to be more right rudder pressure early in the takeoff and keep in mind that the rudder will be more effective as the speed increases which is due to to more airflow over the rudder surface.
  • At approximately 55 knots in the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, the controls will become effective and the control wheel (yoke) will be used for takeoff by gradually pulling back. This pulling back of the control wheel will control the elevator and the pulling back action will lift the elevator and provide the lift necessary for takeoff. This will begin your climb and establish the “climb attitude” Caution should be taken not to forcefully pull the control wheel back but rather allow the aircraft to fly itself off the runway.

Climb Attitude – Now that the aircraft has “taken off” and began its climb, you will want to ensure that the aircraft is climbing at the proper pitch attitude. This will be determined by the attitude indicator as well as the airspeed indicator where in a Cessna Skyhawk 172 with a G1000, the best possible climb rate is just below the 10 degree mark.

By using the control wheel (yoke) you can control the desired pitch attitude  in order to accelerate to the highest altitude which will be determine based on either of the following:

Best Angle of Climb – Vx – best angle of climb at 62 knots which will get to the highest altitude in the shortest distance

You may need a higher altitude if trying to clear a mountain or tall trees at the end of the runway.


Best Rate of Climb – Vy – best rate of climb at 74 knots which will reach the highest altitude in the shortest amount of time.

At slower speeds, the aircraft will have a left leaning tendency with higher power applied. This will result in a feeling of a leaning or sideways sensation without proper rudder pressure.

There is a common need to apply more right rudder and you can visually view the “turn coordination indicator” on top of the PFD (Primary Flight Display) to see if the rudder is “coordinated” or not.

After Initial Takeoff

Once you have successfully “taken off” you will want to ensure that you are continuing in a straight line which is extremely important when operating an aircraft on multiple runways.

Although you may be lined up straight with the runway during takeoff, crosswinds and inadequate right rudder pressure could allow the aircraft to drift off centerline. Looking back over your shoulder momentarily will allow you to visualize the runway and to determine if corrective action is needed to keep the aircraft on centerline. This will help to minimize the potential for a collision.

Flying is a series of constant corrections in which you will apply pressure to the controls to move the aircraft to the desired position. It is best to make a correction and then wait for the reaction before correcting again as needed.

Using the Elevator Trim

The elevator trim control will help to relieve the control pressures in order to make flying easier by holding the controls in a manner that keeps the proper pitch altitude.

For the Cessna 162 Skycatcher, the only way to set the elevator trim is to use the electric switch which is located on the control stick.

For the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, there are actually two ways to set the elevator trim. There is a “trim wheel” located next to the pilot right knee in the lower center pedestal as well as an electric switch which is located on the control wheel (yoke).

Although this is not the same as the cruise control in your car, there are some similarities in that before you set the elevator trim, you should first set the desired power (RPM) as well as the pitch whether it is nose up, nose down or level on the horizon.

Once you have the aircraft in the attitude you want, visually compare the horizon with the attitude indicator to ensure they are consistent. Using the control wheel and by feeling the pressure, you will adjust the nose trim based on how much pressure needs to be applied to maintain the desired attitude.

Pushing forward = more nose down trim

Pulling back = more nose up trim

After Takeoff Routine

Checklists are a part of every Pilot’s routine so once you have taken off, it is time to go through the after-takeoff-checklist, which should be started around 1000′ above ground level.

The after-takeoff checklist should include the following:

  • confirm that the flaps are at 0 degrees
  • establish a cruise climb airspeed or around 70-80 knots which will make for a shallower climb gradient which allows for a better forward vision as well as to allow more cooling air to the engine.

Just as always, you should be scanning paying attention for any other aircrafts on your climb out and it is a good idea to lower the nose occasionally to get an unobstructed view of the outside.

This should be done about every 500 feet and if needed, make shallow turns as needed> Remember this is 3d space so in addition to looking looking left and right, you should also look up and down, forward and backwards.

It will help to be aware of the normal traffic pattern and where traffic normally enters and exits the traffic pattern to avoid other aircrafts.

Always be on the lookout for other aircraft and note their traffic patterns.