by Jonathan M. Stern
To get a sense of the significance of weight to flight characteristics, try a comparison takeoff test, first with two gallons of fuel, and then with full tanks.
The airport that I have selected for the test is in Alderwood Manor, Washington, just a few miles Southeast of Snohomish County. The name of the airport is Martha Lake. There's no easy way to get there on the airlines, and, likewise, there's no easy way to get there on Flight Simulator:
- Use the World/Set Exact Location menu to get to Martha Lake. Enter the Latitude/ Longitude as N 47° 51′ 36.4556"; W 122° 14′ 16.6954".
- Set the altitude to 503 feet and the heading to 345 degrees. If necessary, use the map view (accessed by pressing Num Lock and +/- to zoom in or out) to help you locate your airplane at the very end of the runway.
- Use the Option/Save Situation menu to save this situation under the name Short Field.
- For the first takeoff, use the Sim/Engine and Fuel menu and select 1 percent for the loading of each of the two tanks in the Cessna.
- Before starting the takeoff, tap the Keypad 2 key five or six times to set the elevator at the liftoff position. With a lighter load, the airplane can and will leave the ground at a slower speed.
- Take off to the North using a normal takeoff procedure. Note your altitude as you cross the departure end of the 1,600 foot runway.
- Press the Print Screen key to reset the situation. Re-enter the Sim/Engine and Fuel menu and ensure the tanks are filled to capacity.
- Make another takeoff after tapping Keypad 2 five or six times, and see how close you come to running out of runway (see Figure 2.34).
Figure 2.34. Increased weight leads to increased runway use.
Recognize that you were within weight and balance limits on the second takeoff. Imagine what might occur if the airplane were loaded hundreds of pounds above its maximum allowable limit.