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ACTUAL Soft Field Takeoff + Confined Airport

Many pilots learn to do the soft field takeoff at airports that aren’t all that soft. In fact, most training airports are on hard runway surfaces. So, the pilots ‘pretend’ and never really deal with an actual soft field. Many, many pilots may never even experience a soft field. In a former video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftKgpiTVoh0 …

ACTUAL Soft Field Takeoff + Confined Airport »

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Many pilots learn to do the soft field takeoff at airports that aren’t all that soft. In fact, most training airports are on hard runway surfaces. So, the pilots ‘pretend’ and never really deal with an actual soft field. Many, many pilots may never even experience a soft field.

In a former video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftKgpiTVoh0 ) we showed this technique, but like many pilots trained, we weren’t at an actual soft field.

This time we’re in beautiful Seldovia, Alaska. It’s a shorter, softer runway surrounding by trees. The scenery is breathtaking, but it can bite.

While this runway is gravel and most often ‘hard’, it can get snow or get muddy. In other words, it’s not as soft as it could be. But it’s about as wild as it gets.

The soft field takeoff is a flying technique used to protect the nose wheel of the aircraft. During the taxi, we hold the yoke back to make sure that the nose wheel doesn’t go down in a run. With the prop blast on the tail, we get a little help to keep that nose up.

One we hit full power for takeoff, we then have a LOT of air going over the tail, allowing us to get the nose wheel completely off the runway, and protect the propellor from any ruts, or getting stuck.

With this increased angle of attack on takeoff, we’re going to become unstuck before the airplane is really ready to fly. Thankfully we have something called Ground Effect which will help us accelerate right above the runway.

Once done there, we’ll climb at Vx or Vy to clear the obstacles.

Personally, I like to get my airspeed up a bit. There can be wind shear right at the treetop level that can really hurt your performance. So, I gain extra energy and zoom through that potential wind layer.

On a no-wind day like it was on this day, that wouldn’t really be necessary.

Overall, this is a lesson on how to takeoff from a shorter, softer airstrip with trees or terrain surrounding it.

I hope you enjoy this lesson, let me know if you have any questions.

AUTHOR

Chris Palmer

Chief Flight Instructor and President of Angle of Attack. Founded in 2006.

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