Midfield Takeoffs

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by OkieFlyer, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer En-Route

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    Moments ago, one of the nearby university trainers landed at my local field, as they often do. They generally fly Piper Warriors, and they use our sleepy field for practice often.

    Today, the trainee landed normally and came to a complete stop pretty much dead on the middle of the runway. They generally do a U-turn and taxi back for another go, but this time they throttled up and launched from midfield with only 1500 feet of asphalt in front of them, out of an available 3000'.

    It's cold today, and it's flat here, so that is enough runway for a lightly loaded Warrior doing a max performance takeoff, but it struck me as a fairly dumb thing to do. I've done it more than once on the 5000' runway where I trained and could land and still have 3500-4000 of runway, but I can't say I've ever intentionally left myself only 1500' of runway to use from a dead stop. That's not much room for error, especially for a bird that's not exactly a short field performance machine. Anyway, I'm not really a "by the book" kind of guy, but it seems irresponsible to me for a flight school to allow that. But heck, no harm no foul, I guess.

    What say you?
     
  2. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    What's that saying about useless things...something about fuel and runway behind you?
     
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  3. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    okie, u hangin out at the airport doing some day drinking?
     
  4. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    I make it a rule to almost always use the full length of the runway.

    The thought process is, "Where would you begin your takeoff roll if you knew your engine was going to fail 30 seconds after takeoff?" Followed by "Can you be certain this won't be that time?" Most Conservative Action and all that.

    That said, on very, very rare occasions I might make an exception. My Sky Arrow needs maybe 500' to get airborne, so taking off midfield from a 10,000' runway might cross my mind. And yet, I'll usually take the time and taxi that extra mile to the end. Everyone knows that one of the most useless things to a pilot is runway behind them!

    edited to add: ninja'd by Timbeck2!
     
  5. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer En-Route

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    My thoughts exactly.

    Nay. About to do some day flying.
     
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  6. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Super Moderator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Well even if you do have an engine failure in Oklahoma you have 1000 more miles of flat runway to land on.

    I've done several midfield takeoffs, but mostly at towered fields when it's more convenient for sequencing or taxiing. One day in CYS it was so windy I didn't want to turn my taildragger downwind so I taxied crosswind directly to the runway to takeoff upwind.

    Like any situation in aviation... It depends.
     
  7. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer En-Route

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    Right. I wouldn't have posted if we were talking about even a 5,000 foot runway. Midfield takeoff on a 3000 footer in a Warrior? No thanks. I know a decent pilot could do it just fine with all four cylinders pounding normally, but one hiccup puts you in the levee berm off the end of the runway. On top of that, this is a student, not a seasoned pilot.
     
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  8. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I was serious, what IS that saying? "There's nothing more useless than (insert quote here*) and runway behind you."


    *flying related - "teats on a boar" doesn't apply.

    Edit: I think I remember, "altitude above you."
     
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  9. timwinters

    timwinters Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    I...

    ...never do a touch-n-go. Didn't in primary training either. Believe they instill bad habits as did my primary instructor.

    ...frequently will do a stop and go. But I think I'd be loath to do one with only 1500' remaining. 2500' sure. 1500' I'm back-taxiing.

    I learned to fly on a 6000' runway so a stop and go was easily done with 4,000' remaining ahead for the go.
     
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  10. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait

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    Completely agree...
     
  11. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Lake Hood strip is 2100'. It isn't uncommon to see planes depart from the half way entry point. 1000' is plenty for most planes we fly around here. Watching a turbine Otter do it will stop traffic.
     
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  12. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    People sometimes consider it annoying that I always request a full runway no matter what the length...come to think of it, I annoy people often, in more situations than this one.
     
  13. Kansas Flyer

    Kansas Flyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I departed from midfield once. Of course that was at Salina with a 12,000 ft runway.
     
  14. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait

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    I have heard altitude or sky above as well as fuel on the ground related with the runway behind you...
     
  15. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Years ago I was with a student, as we back taxied, he asked, “Do we really have to go all the way to end, we have plenty of room from here?”. I told him it was his call, so he did a 180 right there and took off. As we approached the departure end of the runway I pulled the throttle back. He gave me a wide eyed, what the hell are you doing look. I said, “I bet you wished you went to the end now!” as I pushed the power back in. Yeah, maybe I’m a jerk, but it’s a lesson he’ll never forget.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
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  16. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer En-Route

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    Midfield on either runway at CYS is still longer than our entire runway, and you're in a solid bush plane. Little different than a Warrior and 1500'. ;)
     
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  17. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, probably not a good thing for the school to be teaching.

    Almost? Some "rule." ;)

    Altitude above you, runway behind you, and fuel in the truck.
     
  18. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    What the Flight School allows and what that Warrior did may be two different things. I wouldn't do it.
     
  19. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I think I remembered it a few minutes before as per my edit. You can have the credit though. And I'll add one: The only time you have too much fuel in the tanks is when you're on fire.
     
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  20. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Sounds like something I would do. If I have a controller too reliant on the scope to remember call signs and where aircraft are, I'll turn it off. This is for tower only, I wouldn't recommend that in radar.
     
  21. timwinters

    timwinters Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    The entire state is a runway!
     
  22. aftCG

    aftCG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    "Air in the tanks" was how I learned it. Same thing though.

    I respect those rules as much as possible. My opinion of midfield takeoffs was solidified when the world lost Jeremy Monnett. Didn't know him but that was sad on a number of levels.

    I still "eat dirt" with my tail wheel when departing my home airport - 5002' long and I'm off by the 500' stripes. Departure end is a 292' drop to salt water, which is part of my decision process.

    But. What other people do isn't my business.
     
  23. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    Law of Primacy...

    I learned to fly, and later taught, at Opa Locka. SOP for RWY9L was to use the 18L intersection about midway down the 10,000’ runway unless you requested the full length. Virtually all the flight school planes used the intersection, as did I.

    I only recall one engine failure right after takeoff. I was ferrying a crash-damaged cropduster from Nassau back to Opa Locka for repair. I was very glad I had used the full length, giving me enough runway to land straight ahead on the runway. It may only happen once in a flying career, but those are exactly the sort of scenarios we should train for.

    And I try not to be a hypocrite. IOW, I try to fly using the same techniques I try to instill in my students. Has served me well over the years.
     
  24. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Andrew, I tend to agree with you. Full length runways are something that get taught more heavily in multi-engine aircraft, but reality is it applies to single for similar reasons. The runway you knowingly give up could help you if something goes wrong. 1500 ft isn't much. I would've taxied back and used full length.

    Some people say "Well if you're willing to operate on [x] ft runway, why do you care about midfield if you have that much?" Answer: Because it's still a reduction in safety, and while you have personal minimums that doesn't mean there's a need to operate at those all the time when there's an alternative that adds options/reduces risk.

    Altitude above you, runway behind you, and fuel you left in the truck.

    Of course, fuel = weight, and weight = reduced performance. Sometimes you want to be low to get away from headwinds or stay out of clouds/weather, which is its own issue/question. But for your average private pilot who only flies on good weather days, it makes a point.

    Sounds like exactly what I would've done in that situation.
     
  25. Eric Stoltz

    Eric Stoltz Line Up and Wait

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    Meh. It was probably a training event. My home plate is "short" I guess, 3400'. When the pattern is full, on a Saturday, when CAVU, the run up pad is clobbered up with not heavy planes all wanting to use full length. I can either be number 37 for TO, heating up my cylinders, or I can take the next taxi way about 700' down and blast off from there when able. Of course I have done the performance look up. Hardly do I fly non solo with more than 60% of full tanks. The mighty Beech only needs about 700'.

    Maybe the OP saw the one time the instructor did the "so you like this idea of runway behind ya, huh?" with his student. Maybe the instructor is incredibly competent, and the student is one of the types that knows everything. Might have been a keen lesson.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk
     
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  26. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    Marlboro MA 9B1 is in the process of closing. (Owner passed away, hadn't made any money in years.) One runway of 1659 feet - Undoubtedly that kept usage down. I visited once, to visit a nearby relative. With three up in an Archer, I had no problem on departure but those trees were uncomfortably close below us.

    But my friend who got his ASEL cert there, was a very good pilot at spot landings! So good with the bad. No midfield takeoffs there!

    Sorry to see it go. I understand it may be turned into elderly housing... -Skip
     
  27. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    my instructor always put it this way...they went to all the trouble to build the darn thing so you might as well use all of it. seriously, I'm pretty conservative and like to plan for worst case scenarios. the Skycatcher lifts off pretty quickly but the more unused runway in front me in case of an engine failure or other emergency, the better. we did do some mid-field T/Os during training and I've done a few since when necessary but I like to play it safe.
     
  28. timwinters

    timwinters Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    Ummm...isn't that what most airports are these days anyway?!?!

    ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
  29. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    If the engine dies 30 seconds after takeoff, I wouldn't want to be so close that after turning I will over fly the runway. OTOH, if the engine dies before rotation, I'd love to have someplace straight ahead to go. I think you have to decide what you're going to do if something goes wrong given the resources you have and then pay your money and take your chances.
     
  30. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Super Moderator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I just wanted to hear you say that :p
     
  31. FlySince9

    FlySince9 En-Route

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    This takes me back. I was an 18 year old student pilot, bopping around in my 1968 C-150 over Long Island NY. One day, I went for a short (very short) XC from ISP to FOK... back then (not sure now) it was a ANG base with its active runway that day being 9000' long. I asked for taxi clearance and the controller (probably laughing at the time) asked if I wanted to use the whole runway. Though a mid-field intersecting taxiway would have been plenty, my absent instructor's voice whispering those immortal words "runway behind you, blah, blah, etc" prompted me to say "affirmative" It took me probably 20 minutes to taxi to the end of the runway and another 20 for the black asphalt to finally disappear from my view, over the nose... To this day I can still imagine the controller laughing, and shaking his head...
     
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  32. Jim Rosenow

    Jim Rosenow Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    ....or you're taking off from mid-field and can't make it over the trees cause you're too heavy :)

    Jim
     
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  33. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer En-Route

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    Definately could have been a training demonstration performed by the instructor. I dunno, just seems silly not to just taxi back and tell the student to be off by the midfield taxiway. The lesson can be taught/learned without eliminating half of the 3000' runway in my opinion. Does anybody plan where their engine quits? Nope. My daddy taught me to look for and leave youself an out when one is available, when he taught me how to drive. I apply that lesson to many things in life including flying. I say treat the runway you have available as a blessing, and use it to your advantage. Again, if we're talking about a huge runway, I'm good with a shorter takeoff, but leave yourself some room for error of mechanical problems if it's available.


    All that said, and after all the comments about runway and fuel in the tanks. I think filled my tanks all the way up maybe twice. I just rarely need 6.5 hours of gas on board. I can usually make better use of a couple hundred pounds.
     
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  34. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Like with everything else in aviation, it depends.
     
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  35. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    And that's the reseal issue in my mind...do I have a viable option in the event of an engine failure? I'm not averse to using a good off-airport site as my viable option.
     
  36. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    What does a Warrior need? Less than 1000'? So this was maybe less than half the required distance. Obviously no issue with the airplane performing or it would be a different discussion. And obviously it is not a good idea to not the option with fewer outs.

    Would you have grief if the pilot was taking off from a runway that was 1500' long? No, because they didn't have other options.

    *Shrug. Let Darwin rule and everyone else can sit back and pat themselves on the back saying "told you so".
     
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  37. Crashnburn

    Crashnburn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Air in the fuel tank.
     
  38. Shepherd

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    Positive spin:
    OK. Let's do an actual short field takeoff.
     
  39. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, you should probably top off that 172 when you've got 4 adult males climbing in. :rolleyes:
     
  40. Bobanna

    Bobanna Pre-takeoff checklist

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    These are all operational considerations. I lean towards the conservative side, and
    I value my "outs," but I'm slow to condemn another pilots decision based on the extant facts.
    As an example, a light twin losing an engine shortly after rotation will be doing well to be at tree-top level a mile from the point of brake release (An instructor told me: "Pick a tree a mile away, and that's about as high a you'll be if you do everything right.") This is a performance consideration: I wouldn't use less than full runway length, but there have been occasions where the realities of an accelerate-go situation put the hairs on my neck up.
     
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