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Taking off from a short runway? Does your runway have trees or buildings at the end of it? Then it’s time for you to dust off your short-field takeoff skills. Here’s how to do it.

How Short Field Takeoffs Are Different

How does a short field takeoff differ from a normal one? It starts by creating a short ground roll, and then climbing at the best angle you can to clear obstacles (Vx).

Why? By keeping your ground roll short, you don’t use as much runway. And by climbing at Vx, you more easily clear obstacles beyond the runway.

So what are the steps of a good (or great) short field takeoff? We’ll break it down into three phases: takeoff roll, liftoff, and initial climb.

Common Problems With Short Field Takeoffs

Short field takeoffs aren’t necessarily the hardest thing in the world to learn, but there are some common problems many pilots have:

  • Not using all of the runway (remember, runway behind you does you no good)
  • Lifting off too quickly: if you liftoff too soon, you’ll create excessive induced drag, and increase your takeoff distance
  • Not adding enough back pressure to maintain Vx
  • Sinking when transitioning from Vx to Vy

If you know the common problems, you’re that much closer to executing a flawless short field takeoff.

Now that you know how to make it all happen, it’s time to head to the airport and start practicing. After all, what better excuse is there to climb into your airplane and do some flying?