True or False: While performing a takeoff from a short runway, I should always retract the landing gear immediately after liftoff to reduce drag.
Answer: False. In some airplanes, the landing gear retraction process will cause a momentary increase in drag. Because the process can take several seconds, it may be best to leave the landing gear extended until a positive rate of climb is established. Otherwise, the increase in drag may cause the airplane to settle back onto the surface at a time when most of the useable runway is behind you. For a comparison between fixed and retractable gear airplanes, check out “Efficiency: Rationalizing retracts” from the April AOPA Pilot.