After taxiing onto the runway, the airplane should be carefully aligned with the intended takeoff direction, and the tailwheel or nosewheel positioned straight, or centered. In airplanes equipped with a locking device, the tailwheel should be locked in the centered position. After releasing the brakes the throttle should be smoothly and continuously advanced to maximum allowable power. As the airplane starts to roll forward, the pilot should slide both feet down on the rudder pedals so that the toes or balls of the feet are on the rudder portions - not on the brake portions.
The use of maximum allowable power, even though it may appear that conditions do not require it, is recommended for every takeoff. Engine-wise there is little or no advantage in using reduced power. A takeoff at reduced power requires more time, and thus more revolutions of the engine; consequently, there is more wear on the pistons, rings, and cylinders. Airplane-wise, reduced power would be the equivalent of starting the takeoff at a point well down the runway. At some airports the runway length may be insufficient to permit this. Reduced power not only lengthens the takeoff roll but increases wear on the tires.
An abrupt application of power may cause the airplane to yaw sharply to the left because of the torque effects of the engine and propeller. With this in mind, the throttle should always be advanced smoothly and continuously to prevent any sudden swerving.
Smooth, gradual advancement of the throttle is very important, particularly in the case of high horsepower engines or tailwheel type airplanes, since peculiarities in their takeoff characteristics are accentuated in proportion to the rapidity with which takeoff power is applied. The engine instruments should be monitored during the takeoff so as to note immediately any malfunction or indication of insufficient power.
In nosewheel type airplanes, no pressures on the elevator control are necessary beyond those needed to steady it. Applying unnecessary pressure will only aggravate the takeoff and prevent the pilot from recognizing when pressure is actually needed to establish the takeoff attitude.
As speed is gained, the elevator control will tend to assume a neutral position if the airplane is correctly trimmed. At the same time, directional control should be maintained with smooth, prompt, positive rudder corrections (except in very large airplanes in which nosewheel steering is accomplished by a small hand operated nosewheel steering mechanism) throughout the takeoff roll. The effects of torque or P-factor at the initial speeds tend to pull the nose to the left. The pilot must use whatever rudder pressure is needed to correct for these effects or for existing wind conditions to keep the nose of the airplane headed straight down the runway. The use of brakes for steering purposes is to be avoided, since they will cause slower acceleration of the airplane's speed, lengthen the takeoff distance, and possibly result in severe swerving.
With a tailwheel type airplane of normal stability characteristics and the elevator trim set for takeoff, on application of maximum allowable power, the airplane will (when sufficient speed has been attained) normally assume approximately the correct takeoff pitch attitude of its own accord. That is, the tail will rise slightly. This attitude can then be maintained by applying slight back elevator pressure. If the elevator control is pushed forward during the takeoff roll to prematurely raise the tail, its effectiveness will rapidly build up as the speed increases, making it necessary to then apply back pressure to lower the tail to the proper takeoff attitude. This erratic change in attitude will delay the takeoff and lead to directional control problems. Rudder pressure must be used promptly and smoothly to counteract yawing forces so that the airplane continues straight down the runway.
While the speed of the takeoff roll increases, more and more pressure will be felt on the flight controls, particularly the elevators and rudder. Since the tail surfaces (except "T" tails) receive the full effect of the propeller slipstream, they become effective first. As the speed continues to increase, all of the flight controls will gradually become effective enough to maneuver the airplane about its three axes. It is at this point, in the taxi to flight transition, that the airplane is being flown more than taxied. As this occurs, progressively smaller rudder deflections are needed to maintain direction.
The feel of resistance to the movement of the controls, as well as the airplane's reaction to such movements, are the only real indicators of the degree of control attained. (Except on certain high performance airplanes, instruments are not reliable indicators in this regard.) This feel of resistance is not a measure of the airplane's speed but rather of its controllability. To determine the degree of controllability, the pilot must be conscious of the reaction of the airplane to the control pressures and immediately adjust the pressures as needed to control the airplane.