Take-off and the circuit
Take-off is the phase of flight in which
an aircraft goes through a transition
from moving along the ground
(taxiing) to flying in the air.
An F/A-18 Hornet takes off from the USS Kitty Hawk
Nose Wheel Aircraft.
For normal take-offs, the aircraft should
be carefully aligned with the runway
Ensure that the nose wheel is centred.
Power should be applied by opening the
throttle smoothly but positively.
Keep the ailerons and elevator in the
As the take-off roll commences, gradually
move the elevator control back to lighten
the weight on the nose wheel.
As the speed of the aircraft approaches
that required for takeoff, raise the nose to
the take-off attitude.
Premature or excessive raising of the nose
will delay take-off because of the
Keep straight by concentrating on a
reference point at the far end of the
runway and maintain directional control
with smooth rudder pressures.
Keep the wings level with aileron control.
When the aircraft lifts off the ground, it
should keep its best rate of climb airspeed
and allowed to accelerate.
The best rate of climb speed should be
maintained until a safe height is reached.
Light aircraft should maintain full power
until at least 500 feet above the ground.
The combination of full power and best
rate of climb speed gives an additional
margin of safety in that altitude is gained.
This is due to the effect of the ground. As
a general rule the results of ground effect
can be detected up to a height equal to
one wing span above the surface.
Ground effect results in decreased induced
drag; thus, making it possible for an
aircraft to become airborne at less than
The density of the air plays an
important part in the take-off
performance of an aircraft.
Cold, dry air is denser than hot,
moist air, and the denser the air, the
better the performance. Factors to
remember about air density at
Airport elevation high, air less dense = reduced performance.
Ambient air T high, air less dense = reduced performance
Relative humidity high, air less dense = reduced performance.
Combination of 1, 2, and 3 = poor performance
The International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) terminology for
the circuit is "Aerodrome Traffic
It is defined as: "The specified paths
to be flown by aircraft operating in
the vicinity of an aerodrome."
The basic pattern of the circuit remains
fixed, but its orientation is determined by
the heading of the runway in use at the
A plan view of the circuit shows that it is
rectangular in shape and has the following
2. The cross-wind leg
3. The downwind leg.
4. The base leg.
5. The final approach.
In actual practice, at controlled airports it
is customary for pilots and controllers to
omit the word "leg" when referring to the
– e.g.: "Burton tower / ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE
/ downwind;" "ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE /
Burton tower / report turning base."
It is recommended that the downwind call
be when the aircraft is abeam the control
Unless special conditions exist and
there is authorized advice to the
contrary, all circuits are left hand;
therefore, all turns within the circuit
are left turns.
In addition, unless otherwise
authorized, all normal circuit heights
are 1,000 feet above ground level.
After take-off there will be a straight climb
into wind, normally to a height of 500 feet,
and then a 90 degree turn cross-wind.
The cross-wind leg is a continuous climb
to circuit height and the A/C leveled off.
Then a 90 degree turn brings the aircraft
onto the downwind leg.
The downwind leg is flown so as to track
parallel with the intended landing path.
On the downwind leg any necessary pre-
landing checks are made.
When past the downwind boundary an
appropriate distance, another 90 degree
turn is made onto the base leg.
When within gliding distance of the
landing area the throttle is closed and the
aircraft is put into a glide.
Just before reaching the intended line of
the final approach, another 90 degree turn
is made onto final approach and the
aircraft is kept in line with the centre of
the runway until the landing is completed
It is extremely important that the position
of other aircraft in the circuit, particularly
those that are ahead of you in the pattern.
Maintain suitable spacing between your
aircraft and the one ahead to allow that
aircraft time to land and taxi clear of the
If you crowd the preceding aircraft it may
be necessary for you to execute a missed
approach and "go around."