WSC Takeoff and Departure Climbs

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This chapter discusses takeoffs and departure climbs in weight-shift control (WSC) aircraft with tricycle landing gear under normal conditions, crosswinds, and under conditions which require maximum performance. A thorough knowledge of takeoff principles, both in theory and practice, is extremely valuable throughout a pilot’s career. It often prevents an attempted takeoff that would result in an accident, or during an emergency, makes a takeoff possible under critical conditions in which a pilot with less knowledge and lesser technique would normally fail.


The takeoff, though relatively simple, often presents the most hazards of any part of a flight. The importance of thorough knowledge, faultless technique, and sound judgment cannot be overemphasized.

It must be remembered that the manufacturer’s recommended procedures, including configuration and airspeeds, and other information relevant to takeoffs and departure climbs in a specific make and model WSC aircraft are contained in the Airplane Flight Manual/Pilot’s Operating Handbook (AFM/POH). If any of the information in this chapter differs from the manufacturer’s recommendations as contained in the AFM/POH, the manufacturer’s recommendations take precedence.

Terms and Definitions

Although the takeoff and climb is one continuous maneuver, it is divided into three separate steps for purposes of explanation: takeoff roll, lift-off, and initial climb after becoming airborne. [Figure 7-1]

  • Takeoff roll ( ground roll)—the portion of the takeoff procedure during which the aircraft is accelerated from standstill to an airspeed that provides sufficient lift for it to become airborne.
  • Lift-off ( rotation)—the act of becoming airborne as a result of the wings lifting the aircraft off the ground or the pilot rotating the nose up, increasing the angle of attack to start a climb.
  • Initial climb—begins when the aircraft leaves the ground and an initial pitch attitude has been established to climb away from the takeoff area. Normally, it is considered complete when the aircraft has reached a safe maneuvering altitude, or an en route climb has been established.
Figure 7-1. Takeoff and climb.

Figure 7-1. Takeoff and climb.

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