Since a good takeoff depends on the proper takeoff attitude, it is important to know how this attitude appears and how it is attained. The ideal takeoff attitude is that which requires only minimum pitch adjustments shortly after the airplane lifts off to attain the speed for the best rate of climb.
Each type of airplane has its own best pitch attitude for normal liftoff. However, varying conditions may make a difference in the required takeoff technique. A rough field, a smooth field, a hard surface runway, or a short or soft, muddy field, all call for a slightly different technique, as will smooth air in contrast to a strong, gusty wind. The different techniques for those other than normal conditions are discussed later in this chapter.
When all the flight controls become effective during the takeoff roll in a nosewheel type airplane, back elevator pressure should be gradually applied to raise the nosewheel slightly off the runway, thus establishing the takeoff or liftoff attitude. This is often referred to as "rotating." (In tailwheel type airplanes, the tail should first be allowed to rise off the ground slightly to permit the airplane to accelerate more rapidly.) At this point, the position of the nose in relation to the horizon should be noted, then elevator pressure applied as necessary to hold this attitude. On both types of airplanes, of course, the wings must be kept level by applying aileron pressure as necessary.
The airplane may be allowed to fly off the ground while in this normal takeoff attitude. Forcing it into the air by applying excessive back pressure would only result in an excessively high pitch attitude and may delay the takeoff. As discussed earlier, excessive and rapid changes in pitch attitude result in proportionate changes in the effects of torque, thus making the airplane more difficult to control.
Although the airplane can be forced into the air, this is considered an unsafe practice and must be avoided under normal circumstances. If the airplane is forced to leave the ground by using too much back pressure before adequate flying speed is attained, the wing's angle of attack may be excessive, causing the airplane to settle back to the runway or even to stall. On the other hand, if sufficient back elevator pressure is not held to maintain the correct takeoff attitude after becoming airborne, or the nose is allowed to lower excessively, the airplane may also settle back to the runway. This would occur because the angle of attack is decreased and lift diminished to the degree where it will not support the airplane. It is important, then, to hold the attitude constant after rotation or liftoff.
Even as the airplane leaves the ground, the pilot must continue to be concerned with maintaining straight flight as well as holding the proper pitch attitude.
During takeoffs in a strong, gusty wind it is advisable that an extra margin of speed be obtained before the airplane is allowed to leave the ground, since a takeoff at the normal takeoff speed may result in lack of positive control, or a stall, when the airplane encounters a sudden lull in strong gusty wind, or other turbulent air currents. In this case the pilot should hold the airplane on the ground longer to attain more speed, then make a smooth, positive rotation to leave the ground.