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After taxiing to the runway, a pre-takeoff check list is accomplished. This check is to ensure that all systems are working normally. When this is completed, the airplane is taxied to the center of the runway and aligned with it. The throttle is opened fully to start the takeoff run (also called take off roll).During this takeoff run, the control wheel, or stick, is usually held in the neutral position, but the rudder pedals are used to keep the airplane on the runway's centerline.
As takeoff airspeed is approached, gentle back pressure on the control wheel raises the elevator which causes the airplane's nose to pitch upward slightly. This lifts the nose wheel off the runway (see fig. 5-6 ).
Once the nose wheel is off the runway, the right rudder is applied to counteract the left-turning tendency which is present under low airspeed and high-power flight conditions. As the airplane lifts clear of the runway, the pilot varies the pressure on the control wheel. First, pressure is relaxed slightly to gain airspeed while still in ground effect (additional lift provided by compression of air between the airplane's wings and the ground). As airspeed increases to the best rate-of-climb airspeed, back pressure on the control wheel is adjusted to maintain that airspeed until the first desired altitude is reached. (Best rate-of-climb airspeed provides the most altitude for a given unit of time.) Climbs to other and higher altitudes are made at airspeeds determined by the pilot, until the desired cruising altitude is reached.
Upon reaching cruising altitude, the airplane's pitch attitude is reduced and the airplane accelerates to cruising speed. The power is reduced and adjusted to maintain the selected cruising speed. Almost simultaneously, the pilot adjusts the elevator and possibly the rudder to keep the airplane at the desired altitude and heading (direction). If the flight is to go to a distant airport, the airplane will be kept in its cruising flight configuration until the destination is near. If the pilot wants only to perform basic flight maneuvers in a practice area, the cruising flight configuration will necessarily be changed rather soon.
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Updated: March 12, 2004