Normal Takeoff


  • Normal takeoffs are the most basic of all takeoff maneuvers [Figure 1]
  • Conditions will almost never exist to warrant a normal takeoff and likely incorporate at least some element of crosswind
  • Normal takeoffs are closely related to the performance of flight at minimum controllable airspeeds



All procedures here are GENERALIZED for learning.
Fly the maneuver in accordance with the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH)
and/or current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Normal Takeoff
Figure 1: Airplane Flying Handbook, Normal takeoff

C-172S Procedure:

    1. Ensure the before takeoff checklists are complete
    2. Check Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS), wind direction indicators, as available, and listen to the wind call given by ATC when issuing the takeoff clearances
    3. Call for takeoff clearance
      • Controlled Airfield:
        • Air Traffic Control (ATC) will issue a takeoff clearance
          • ATC:[Callsign], [Wind], cleared for takeoff [Runway]
            • Example:Cessna One Seven Two Seven Victor, wind two seven zero at one zero, cleared for takeoff runway two six
      • Uncontrolled Airfield:
        • A clearance will not be issued so you must announce your intentions over the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF)
          • PILOT:[Airport Name] traffic, [Callsign], taking off [Runway] [Airport Name]
            • Example:Brewton Traffic, Cessna One Seven Two Seven Victor, takeoff runway two four, Brewton
    4. Check the approach path is clear and then taxi into takeoff position
      • Crossing the hold short call Lights (nav/strobe/landing), Camera (transponder), Action (mixture/flaps/trim/fuel pump, if required
      • Utilize all available runway (i.e., taxi to the edge before aligning with the runway centerline
    5. Firmly depress the brake pedals to ensure to apply enough pressure to hold the airplane in position during full power run-up
    6. Smoothly and continuously apply full throttle, checking engine instruments and tachometer (RPM) are within their “green” operating range and call-out over the Intercommunication System (ICS)
      • ICS:Engine instruments in the green
    7. Release the brakes and maintain directional control and runway centerline with the rudder pedals
      • Lower your feet to the floor ensuring toes are on rudders ONLY, and not the brakes
    8. As you start to roll, monitor your airspeed and call out once you see the needle moving
      • ICS:Airspeed Alive
      • Keep in right rudder and some left aileron to counteract p-factor crosswind effect as required
      • As you accelerate, the aircraft must be flown and not taxied, requiring smaller inputs
    9. At rotation speed (Vr), call out, “Vr, Rotate” and increase control yoke back pressure to pitch up (approx. 04°-05°)
      • Vr is 55 KIAS, or as recommended for lower takeoff weight
      • Smoothly pitch up or the aircraft may delay a climb
      • Forcing the aircraft off the ground may leave it stuck in ground effect or stall [Figure 2]
      • During gust conditions, the pilot should remain on the deck a little longer
    10. After liftoff, establish and maintain best climb rate (Vy) (, while maintaining the flight path over the runway centerline
      • Trim as necessary
      • Use of the rudders may be required to keep the airplane headed straight down the runway, avoiding P-factor
    11. With a positive rate of climb and no available landing area remaining, depress the brake pedals, call out, “Positive Climb
    12. With obstacles cleared, lower the pitch to begin accelerating to Vy (74 KIAS)
    13. At or above 65 KIAS, retract the flaps to 0°
      • Establish and maintain Vy
      • Trim as necessary
      • Avoid drifting off centerline or into obstructions, or the path of another aircraft that may be taking off from a parallel runway
    14. During the climb out (no less than 200′ AGL), lower nose momentarily to ensure that the airspace ahead is clear, and then re-establish Vy, while maintaining flight path over extended runway centerline
      • Trim as necessary
    15. At 500′ AGL, lower the pitch (approx. 2-3°) to establish and maintain a cruise climb (85 KIAS)


Maintain Vy if climb performance warrants

    1. Execute a departure procedure or remain in the traffic pattern, as appropriate


If remaining in the traffic pattern, leave the auxiliary fuel pump switch in the ON position

    1. Complete the climb flow/checklist, when appropriate
    2. Execute a departure procedure or remain in the traffic pattern as appropriate


When the instructor is not in the plane, the weight will be less and therefore the pitch attitude may differ: airborne sooner, climb more rapidly, higher performance

Effect of premature lift-off
Figure 2: Airplane Flying Handbook, Effect of premature lift-off


Common Errors:

  • 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
  • Over-correcting for left turning tendency
  • Relying solely on the airspeed indicator rather than developed feel for indications of speed and airplane controllability during acceleration and lift-off
  • Failure to attain proper lift-off attitude
  • Inadequate compensation for torque/P-factor during initial climb resulting in a side-slip
  • Over-Control of elevators during initial climb out
  • 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 (Vy)
  • Failure to employ the principles of attitude flying during climb-out resulting in “chasing” the airspeed indicator


Practical Test Standards:



  • Takeoff (and landing) factors are dependent on: thrust, weight, lift, drag, and friction (runway surfaces)
  • Different techniques should be considered when departing from shorter airfields, when obstacles are present, or when operating out of a soft (grass/dirt) airfield
  • Understanding the basics and executing normal takeoffs will set you up for success when performing short, soft, or crosswind takeoffs