Chapter 5—Takeoff and Departure Climbs

Terms and Definitions
Prior to Takeoff

Normal Takeoff
   Takeoff Roll
   Initial Climb

Crosswind Takeoff
   Takeoff Roll
   Initial Climb

Ground Effect on Takeoff
   Takeoff Roll
   Initial Climb

Soft/Rough-Field Takeoff and Climb
   Takeoff Roll
   Initial Climb

Rejected Takeoff/Engine Failure
Noise Abatement

Table of Contents


While it is usually preferable to take off directly into the wind whenever possible or practical, there will be many instances when circumstances or judgment will indicate otherwise. Therefore, the pilot must be familiar with the principles and techniques involved in crosswind takeoffs, as well as those for normal takeoffs. A crosswind will affect the airplane during takeoff much as it does in taxiing. With this in mind, it can be seen that the technique for crosswind correction during takeoffs closely parallels the crosswind correction techniques used in taxiing.


The technique used during the initial takeoff roll in a crosswind is generally the same as used in a normal takeoff, except that aileron control must be held INTO the crosswind. This raises the aileron on the upwind wing to impose a downward force on the wing to counteract the lifting force of the crosswind and prevents the wing from rising.

As the airplane is taxied into takeoff position, it is essential that the windsock and other wind direction indicators be checked so that the presence of a crosswind may be recognized and anticipated. If a crosswind is indicated, FULL aileron should be held into the wind as the takeoff roll is started. This control position should be maintained while the airplane is accelerating and until the ailerons start becoming sufficiently effective for maneuvering the airplane about its longitudinal axis. With the aileron held into the wind, the takeoff path must be held straight with the rudder. [Figure 5-3] Normally, this will require applying downwind rudder pressure, since on the ground the airplane will tend to weathervane into the wind. When takeoff power is applied, torque or P-factor that yaws the airplane to the left may be sufficient to counteract the weathervaning tendency caused by a crosswind from the right. On the other hand, it may also aggravate the tendency to swerve left when the wind is from the left. In any case, whatever rudder pressure is required to keep the airplane rolling straight down the runway should be applied.

Crosswind takeoff roll and initial climb

Figure 5-3. Crosswind takeoff roll and initial climb.

As the forward speed of the airplane increases and the crosswind becomes more of a relative headwind, the mechanical holding of full aileron into the wind should be reduced. It is when increasing pressure is being felt on the aileron control that the ailerons are becoming more effective. As the aileron’s effectiveness increases and the crosswind component of the relative wind becomes less effective, it will be necessary to gradually reduce the aileron pressure. The crosswind component effect does not completely vanish, so some aileron pressure will have to be maintained throughout the takeoff roll to keep the crosswind from raising the upwind wing. If the upwind wing rises, thus exposing more surface to the crosswind, a “skipping” action may result. [Figure 5-4]

Crosswind effect Figure 5-4. Crosswind effect.

This is usually indicated by a series of very small bounces, caused by the airplane attempting to fly and then settling back onto the runway. During these bounces, the crosswind also tends to move the airplane sideways, and these bounces will develop into side-skipping. This side-skipping imposes severe side stresses on the landing gear and could result in structural failure.

It is important, during a crosswind takeoff roll, to hold sufficient aileron into the wind not only to keep the upwind wing from rising but to hold that wing down so that the airplane will, immediately after lift-off, be sideslipping into the wind enough to counteract drift.

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As the nosewheel is being raised off the runway, the holding of aileron control into the wind may result in the downwind wing rising and the downwind main wheel lifting off the runway first, with the remainder of the takeoff roll being made on that one main wheel. This is acceptable and is preferable to side-skipping.

If a significant crosswind exists, the main wheels should be held on the ground slightly longer than in a normal takeoff so that a smooth but very definite liftoff can be made. This procedure will allow the airplane to leave the ground under more positive control so that it will definitely remain airborne while the proper amount of wind correction is being established. More importantly, this procedure will avoid imposing excessive side-loads on the landing gear and prevent possible damage that would result from the airplane settling back to the runway while drifting.

As both main wheels leave the runway and ground friction no longer resists drifting, the airplane will be slowly carried sideways with the wind unless adequate drift correction is maintained by the pilot. Therefore, it is important to establish and maintain the proper amount of crosswind correction prior to lift-off by applying aileron pressure toward the wind to keep the upwind wing from rising and applying rudder pressure as needed to prevent weathervaning.


If proper crosswind correction is being applied, as soon as the airplane is airborne, it will be sideslipping into the wind sufficiently to counteract the drifting effect of the wind. [Figure 5-5] This sideslipping should be continued until the airplane has a positive rate of climb. At that time, the airplane should be turned into the wind to establish just enough wind correction angle to counteract the wind and then the wings rolled level. Firm and aggressive use of the rudders will be required to keep the airplane headed straight down the runway. The climb with a wind correction angle should be continued to follow a ground track aligned with the runway direction. However, because the force of a crosswind may vary markedly within a few hundred feet of the ground, frequent checks of actual ground track should be made, and the wind correction adjusted as necessary. The remainder of the climb technique is the same used for normal takeoffs and climbs.

 Crosswind climb flightpath

Figure 5-5. Crosswind climb flightpath.

Common errors in the performance of crosswind takeoffs are:

  • • Failure to adequately clear the area prior to taxiing onto the active runway.
  • • Using less than full aileron pressure into the wind initially on the takeoff roll.
  • • Mechanical use of aileron control rather than sensing the need for varying aileron control input through feel for the airplane.
  • • Premature lift-off resulting in side-skipping.
  • • Excessive aileron input in the latter stage of the takeoff roll resulting in a steep bank into the wind at lift-off.
  • • Inadequate drift correction after lift-off.

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PED Publication