You pull on to the runway, straighten up the nose wheel, add power, and accelerate down the runway toward another fun-filled day or night in the sky. I have no doubt you were watching the centerline to stay on track. You probably took a glance at the airspeed indicator a time or two before rotation. As you rotated, you fall into a natural pitch attitude that is by now second-nature.
Are you missing something?
Perhaps you are. Consider that between the ground and, say, 500 feet is the worst possible place to have a major engine problem. Or even a minor one. If you aren’t already in the habit, start paying attention to how much runway is left as you rotate, or if it works better for you, how much you have used. Are you 100 percent confident you will be able to stop on the remaining runway if necessary? On a long runway, the answer is most likely yes. But, what if the runway is fewer than 4,000 feet? Or fewer than 3,000 feet? Sometimes you have to acknowledge that you may not be able to stop once you reach a certain point. Then what do you do?
As you rotate, you should immediately know where you will go if you have a total power loss between the runway and 500 feet AGL, and again between 500 and 1000 feet AGL. Back on the runway, you should also be mentally prepared for the possibility of wildlife running out on the runway. There really isn’t a lot of guidance on how to handle this, as it isn’t something manufacturers test for. Obviously, if you can safely get airborne, you should. If you realize that you can’t, close the throttle immediately, and do whatever you need to keep control of the aircraft. It’s important to realize that this is not your car; damage will likely be far more extensive even at lower speeds. But hitting a deer is always more preferable to stalling because you weren’t ready to get airborne.
Taking off is more than just getting airborne. It requires consideration for a host of possibilities that you need to be prepared for. Some of the planning and information can come from the POH; the rest of it must come from common sense and the ability to think outside the box.
What are some of your takeoff considerations? Do you brief? How does the briefing go?