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Takeoff Procedure

The traditional trainer aircraft has a "Tricycle" landing gear configuration (i.e. there's a nose wheel up front). This type typically has good handling on the ground. The numbered takeoff sequence in the above diagram is as follows:

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1) Advance the throttle and steer the plane as it moves forward on the ground. It might be good to practice this a few times before your first take-off. For a 3-channel plane you will be steering with your right-hand; for a 4-channel plane, ground-steering (rudder) is with your left hand, switch to right-hand (ailerons) after the plane leaves the ground.

2) Keep the plane going in a straight line on the ground as it picks up speed. If it starts to wander too far left or right of the centerline and you sense that you are losing control, simple return the throttle to zero, pick up the plane and return it to the start point.

3) A nice stable trainer may want to take off by itself when it reaches flying speed. If not, you will notice that the plane looks a little "light on its feet". At that point, give it a SMALL amount of up elevator (more is not better), this should get the plane flying. If you give too much elevator, or so it before the plane reaches flying speed, the plane could go into a stall. Stall on takeoff = crash.

4) After takeoff, return the elevator to neutral and allow the plane to climb on its own. Resist the temptation to give it more up elevator: remember, that's the stall stick! Watch it climb and steer it straight ahead with the rudder stick (or keep the wings level with the ailerons if so equipped).

5) OK, so far so good. But as some point you have to turn the airplane. First, give a little forward elevator to make the climb angle more shallow. Why? Because the aircraft already has a low airspeed due to the climb. Turning will reduce the airspeed further, which could lead to a stall. Nosing forward a bit before turning increases the airspeed and gives you a safety margin.

The other common landing gear configuration is "Taildragger" i.e. there's a tailwheel at the back of the airplane. This type is considered less stable than the Tricycle, as the tail can sometimes wander left or right during takeoff. The takeoff procedure is modified per the diagram below:

1) Apply throttle gradually. Use some up elevator to keep the tail firmly on the ground and controllable. Once the tail lifts off the ground, neutralize the elevator! The plane does not yet have enough flying speed, and you want to avoid a stall. Be prepared to steer the aircraft on the ground. If you find the nose swinging around ("ground-loop") abort the takeoff.

2) The tail will lift off, let the aircraft build up to flying speed.

3) Apply a touch of up elevator to help the aircraft rotate off the ground.

4) Continue climb out at moderate angle.

5) Prepare for your first turn.