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The following stories from the March 13, 2009, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online.


Controlling crosswind takeoffs

The call has come. You are cleared for takeoff. The clearance includes an assigned heading to fly after liftoff—another detail to add to your list of departure tasks. You complete the “lights, camera, action” items discussed in the March 6 “ Training Tip,” give the windsock a last glance, and taxi out on the yellow line to the runway centerline. Aligned with the centerline for takeoff, you give your directional instrument a glance (and if necessary a final twist) before adding power for takeoff. Remember to bring the power up gradually! Gentle throttle inputs and a squeeze of right rudder will keep your takeoff run straight and true.


What did you see when you checked the windsock just now? How you answer that question will determine how you manipulate the flight controls as you commence your takeoff run. If there’s a crosswind, ailerons come into play in an important way. “As the airplane is taxied into takeoff position, it is essential that the windsock and other wind direction indicators be checked so that the presence of a crosswind may be recognized and anticipated. If a crosswind is indicated, full aileron should be held into the wind as the takeoff roll is started. The control position should be maintained while the airplane is accelerating and until the ailerons start becoming sufficiently effective for maneuvering the airplane around its longitudinal axis,” explains Chapter 5 of the FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook . Simultaneously applying firm, accurate rudder will keep your aircraft rolling straight ahead.


When the ailerons develop some “bite” from the increasing airflow, reduce control deflection—but don’t relax it entirely. That’s a common error. (See how a soloing student pilot faced down this problem in “ Why We Fly” in the May 2005 edition of AOPA Flight Training.) Seek and maintain the aileron deflection that keeps the upwind wing down, but does not raise the other prematurely.


Once airborne, don’t relax your focus. That crosswind on takeoff reminds you that drift correction will be a prime concern during the initial climb (see the Feb. 23, 2007, “Training Tip: Up and Away” to keep you tracking correctly until you are ready to attend to that other detail: the turn to your assigned heading).


‘Airmanship Series’ now available from, a provider of proficiency training programs, has introduced a new Airmanship Series aimed at helping pilots to improve the fundamentals of flying. Topics include airmanship principles, safety and risk management, night flying, nontowered airports, decision making, personal minimums, and accident analysis and prevention. The lessons are presented in multimedia or audio modules. The series is available in two formats: CD-ROMs and audio CDs ($199 for first-time customers, $99 for subscribers) or as a download ($169 for first-time customers; $69 for subscribers). To order, see the Web site.

Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.


Question: I have been hearing a lot of people talking about the English proficient endorsement. What is it, do I need one, and how can I get it?


Answer: Effective March 5, the International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO) has mandated that all member countries (that includes the United States) issue pilot certificates that state the pilot is English proficient if that pilot plans to use the certificate outside of the home country. All new FAA pilot certificates will automatically be issued with the English proficient endorsement on the back since proficiency in the English language has been a longstanding FAA requirement for basic eligibility for a U.S. airman certificate. If you are planning an international flight and need to get this endorsement, you can request a replacement certificate on the FAA’s Web site or order one through the mail. Get the address and read more in AOPA’s subject report on pilot certificates.


Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail to [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don't forget the online archive of "Final Exam" questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.

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