By Ivan van der Schaar

With all before take-off checks done, all occupants including the pilot are happy we are now ready to blast off into the wild blue yonder…

Release the brakes and prepare to enter the runway for take-off. As we taxi forward ensure the approach is clear. Line up nicely in the middle of the runway and if time permits stop. At busy airfields this is not always possible as you may have aircraft approaching that are in desperate need of the runway. As we line up finish the line-up checks. I personally use: What To Do Last. Here we check the wind, switch the transponder on, and check the DI and lights.

It is rather important to note where the wind is coming from and what its velocity is as the aircraft is going to perform accordingly. Do we have a headwind component or cross wind? If there is a cross wind the aircraft will most probably weather cock. A headwind can reduce the take-off run significantly. A cross wind will require more rudder use and even possibly aileron use just ask any seasoned tail dragger pilot.

Switch the Transponder to ALT and if no squawk code has been assigned then squawk 2000. This helps tremendously as busy airports and aircraft with TCAS can then see you should you wander into the way and action can be taken to avoid expensive damages.

Ensure the DI is aligned with the runway heading and lastly that the correct lights are displayed. Upon start up only the anti-collision light or rotating beacon, if fitted and in day light should be on. This warns ground wanderers that the aircraft is alive and something is about to happen.
Upon leaving the holding point only then do we switch the Strobes on, this makes us more visible as we are now entering the runway. I my opinion it is poor airmanship if an aircraft is on the apron with strobes flashing especially in bad light. The blinding effect on the outsiders is rather harsh…

With us lined up nicely on the centre line we apply power for take-off. Smoothly advance the power. From slow idle to full power should take about four seconds. Anticipate the swing due to increased torque. The anticipation should be made in order to remain on the runway centre line. Once full power is applied check that the engine is delivering full power in accordance with manifold pressure, RPM and your t's and p's. Note if the airspeed is increasing. All whilst tracking the centre line using rudder rather smartly.

Once the rotate speed is reached please do not pluck the aircraft of the ground as this can have rather undesired consequences but rather smoothly and firmly put the aircraft in a tail low attitude. Once the aircraft is ready she will fly herself off the ground and settle into a climb and will also continue to climb if left undisturbed.

If the aircraft is hauled of the ground by an over eager hand the angle of attack is increase sharply. This will cause drag to increase drastically that may result in a high speed stall on take-off the consequences can be very undesired especially if the aircraft is heavily loaded and high density conditions does not help much either. The passengers find it uncomfortable as the sudden change in deck angle was not anticipated where as a smooth rotation to the flying attitude makes your flying skills look much better and smoother.

After lifting off, clear of obstacles and whilst maintaining the climb accelerate to the recommended climb speed.

I know some pilots do not appreciate intersection take offs. Folks it is entirely at the pilots discretion and I am sure the pilots who perform these take offs has taken all the considerations into account. I for one do not mind taking off from an intersection if conditions permit.

Next up, when to retract the gear? About this we can debate for a week. My 2cents about this. I prefer to retract the gear as soon as I have a positive rate of climb. Most runways we operate out of will not have enough remaining runway to land back on in case of an engine failure. So I would prefer to land wheels up back on the runway as I would stop much quicker than with wheels down. With wheels down you stand a chance to overrun the runway which could cause more damage or injury. As I said just my 2 cents worth.

So after take-off: Brakes on - off, gear -up.

At 300 feet after take-off checks with the engine set up for climb.

Just before I sign off for this month I would like to talk about something close to my and many aviators out there's hearts… Flight safety.

2014 has not been a good year for aviation thus far. We have experienced sad losses in life and aircraft. I am not one to point fingers as even I had a tragic flying accident.

The really sad and sobering thought about this is that the aviators we lost this year are not the first ones and neither are they the last. We are meant to learn from other peoples mistakes but yet we still make the same mistakes as those before us. Even sometimes pointing fingers and saying what a stupid mistake he/she made and vowing not to do the same. But yet is still happens…?

I would like to plea with all of you, whether you are an experienced airline captain or just starting your flying career. Please when we are faced with a situation take a step back and rethink. No one HAS to get home, your friends don't HAVE to see your low level display they are already impressed by the mere fact that you can fly an aircraft….

Apart from the crash and loss of life a huge logistical nightmare erupts in terms of court cases, insurance and estates which the family's has to cope with. Have you ever been tasked with telling a family of the loss of their loved ones? I have and the faces of these are still imprinted in my mind.

So, do we really have to put people, colleagues, family and friends through this trauma just because the said pilot who was such a good responsible and safe pilot had to get home in bad weather or had to do that last beat up and pondered about how to make it even more impressive while the adrenaline is pumping?

People, pilots, enthusiasts PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let's consider all options and possible outcomes before we take-off. As a friend of mine said: "If there is doubt there is no doubt." If you can't decide have a beer, that will give you 8 hours to decide and by that time the conditions would have changed.

Till next month

Keep it safe and have a blast whilst flying

Ivan's Aviation Minute

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