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Soft-field Takeoff
2010-03-18

Soft-field Takeoff

(Introduction)
The situation is a takeoff area of unlimited length but having a soft surface the nature of which would prevent acceleration of an aircraft to takeoff speed without the application of special techniques. The intention is to make a running start on to the runway with 10 degrees of flaps and the yoke held full back. Power is smoothly applied so as to give sufficient elevator power to raise and keep the nose wheel off the ground. The aircraft is allowed to lift off at a minimum flying speed that can be maintained and accelerated only in ground effect. The aircraft is flown in ground effect until climb speed is attained. At 200' AGL the flaps are removed and normal climb maintained. So much for procedure.

Piloting techniques require that the elbow and arm be locked so that over rotation does not occur with sudden power application. Coordinated power and yoke is required to attain the required/desired smoothness. As the aircraft accelerates the pitch attitude is increased to attain lift off. Anticipatory rudder application is very important during this entire takeoff to maintain directional control.

Once in the air you will be behind the power curve. This means that since you have no more power available you must lower the nose to increase the speed. Unless this speed increase is carefully crafted by combining close flight to the ground and a gradual lowering of the nose an unintentional ground contact is likely. The closer you are able to fly to the ground while avoiding contact the sooner the aircraft will attain the flying speed required for climb. Most common mistake is failing to remove flaps at 200'.

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