June 2011 Issue

Impossible Takeoff

When wanting an airplane’s maximum performance, we need to load and configure it correctly.

I’ve done my share of flying to and from soft fields, in a variety of airplanes, including 150s, 172s and my current flivver, a Beech Debonair. The landing portion doesn’t require a great deal of planning—presuming the runway isn’t too short—and my primary training taught me well enough I never have a problem with the arrival. The departure, however, is another thing entirely. The built-in deceleration a soft field provides on landing works against us on takeoff. Soft terrain, high grass and (my) imperfect technique all combine to lengthen the takeoff roll. I know this, again thanks to my training, and always pull out the AFM/POH or a soft-field takeoff checklist to review the procedures. Ideally, I do that—plus run a basic soft-field takeoff performance calculation—before even committing to go into such a landing area.

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