Running Takeoffs in Helicopters

Running takeoffs are easier and more appropriate in wheeled helicopters (think the Augusta/Westland 109) then in skid helicopters (Robinisons, Bells, etc) typically used in training operations. Skids can wear out or damage the surface of the runway over time. Plus, there is the noise factor to consider. The sound of a Robinson R22 making a running takeoff can only be compared to a giant running his fingernails along the world’s largest chalkboard.

The main reason we practice running takeoffs is to show students how to takeoff when power is not available to hover. Generally, if there is not enough power available to hover then it is not safe to complete the flight. Helicopter performance in unpredictable and if there is not enough power to hover, there is no way to be sure that there is enough power to make a running takeoff. Students should be taught to recognize an inability to hover as a warning sign. The appropriate response is to reduce gross weight, not to force the helicopter into a running takeoff.

Running takeoffs increase the operation envelop of the helicopter and allows for takeoffs or landings in low power situations They are most frequently used in high density altitude operations.

TO complete a running takeoff, the pilot will apply about half as much collective power as they would to hover while applying forward cyclic input. This will cause the helicopter to lift weight off the skids and tilt the rotor disc forward to cause forward motion.

As speed increase, the helicopter will transition through translation lift airspeed. AT this point, the pilot should increase collective pitch, apply aft cyclic pressure, and begun to climb to altitude.

For the typical helicopter pilot, running takeoffs are a maneuver the will be practiced often and used seldom. Always remember if you helicopter cannot hover it is tell you you that it is to heavy for atmospheric conditions. Always listen to your helicopter.

Casey Ryan Richards