Cessna 172 Startup From Cold And Dark

Aerofly FS can simulate full takeoff procedures from cold and dark for the aircraft, including all commercial airliners and the popular Cessna 172 trainer. The cold and dark configuration is an aircraft state with all engines shut down and cooled down (cold) and all systems turned off, lights off (dark). This is the aircraft state that would be found after the aircraft has been parked for a while or over night and the aircraft is now prepared for the first flight of the day.

To select the cold and dark setting first select the aircraft in the aircraft menu and then select a parking position using the location menu. After selecting a parking position you will see options for “ready for taxi”, “before engine start” and “cold and dark”. Select the latter to start with all engines and systems off.

For our cold and dark tutorial we’re using the southern park position at the KSBA Santa Barbara airport but you can use any other airport that you like.

Power On And Engine Start


When you change to the cockpit view you can see the instrument panel of the Cessna 172 in front of you. The panel features the typical six-pack instrument configuration with the following instruments from top left to bottom right

  • Airspeed indicator
  • Attitude indicator a.k.a. artificial horizon
  • Altimeter
  • Turn indicator and balance ball, slip indicator
  • Directional gyro, heading indicator
  • Vertical speed indicator

You can hide the yoke to see the switches behind it

  • Click on the base of the yoke to hide it

Fuel Selector and Cut Off

The Cessna 172 has two fuel tanks, one in each wing. With the fuel selector you can control which fuel tank is used in order to balance the fuel level in both tanks throughout the flight. To prevent the fuel flowing from one side to the other when the aircraft is parked the fuel selector is set to only one side.

  • Rotate the fuel selector to BOTH
  • Move the fuel cut off lever forward to allow fuel flow to the engine

Electric Power

In this aircraft we have a 24V battery. It is used to drive the electric starter, just like in your car and after engine start it is charged by the engine generator. In case the engine fails some of the instruments remain powered for a while to allow for a safe emergency landing. To avoid the battery being drained it is turned off when the aircraft is parked.

  • Set on the battery master and alternator master by clicking on the red MASTER BATT switch in the lower left of the panel
  • Set the beacon light (BCN) on
  • At night or in instrument mandatory weather conditions turn the NAV light on
  • Set the fuel pump to on

Engine Ignition and Start

  • Make sure the parking brake is set, which is a lever between the knees of the pilot under the panel. It should already be set if you selected the cold and dark configuration
  • Move the red mixture lever forward to the full rich position
  • Move the throttle slightly forward (about 10%)
  • Rotate the magneto key to START and hold it there. This may require continuous input because the key springs back to BOTH after it’s released

When the engine started successfully

  • Reduce the throttle to maintain an engine speed of 1000 RPM
  • Lean the mixture slightly by pulling the red mixture lever back a bit
  • Turn fuel pump off

Avionics On

With the engine running the LOW VOLTS and other warnings should have gone away. Check the ampermeter to see if the battery is indeed charging now.

  • Turn on the white avionics master switches
  • Turn on all the radios in the radio stack by rotating their volume knobs to the right
  • Turn on the DME and set the transponder (XPDR) to standby
  • Adjust the altimeter pressure setting if needed, the altimeter should now indicate field elevation
  • Check that the attitude indicator
  • Verify the directional gyro heading indicator is showing the correct heading
  • Adjust the selected heading bug for the takeoff runway direction or ATC assigned heading
  • Set the NAV1 selected course with the OBS1 knob to the runway direction or as needed

Flight Control Check

  • Move the ailerons through their full range of travel, from full left to full right and back. Look at the wings and verify that when you rotate the yoke to the left that the left aileron is going up and that the right one is going down. Verify that when you rotate the yoke to the right that the right aileron is going up and the left one is going down.
  • Move the elevator from to full up, then full down. Look back over your shoulder to verify the direction of movement.
  • Move the rudder full left and full right and check that through the rear window as well.
  • Set the pitch-trim for takeoff by rotating the pitch trim wheel in the center console (and all other trims to zero but the Cessna 172 only has pitch trim)


We can now start taxiing to the runway but we have to do a run-up still. We’ll make a stop in the run-up area next to the runway.

  • Turn on the taxi light if required
  • Release the parking brake by clicking the black lever below the front instrument panel
  • Adjust throttle to change engine power and taxi speed
  • Test the wheel brakes
  • Use rudder to steer the aircraft on the ground
  • Stop at the hold short lines and check for traffic before crossing any active runways

Engine Run-Up

Taxi to the run-up area near the departure runway. This is an free area where we can test our engine without causing damage to nearby buildings or other aircraft. We’re doing this test to check if all engine parameters are normal and if both ignition magnetos are working.

  • Point the nose into the wind and stop the aircraft with the brakes
  • Set the parking brake and turn the taxi light off
  • Set mixture full rich
  • Increase throttle to set an engine rotation speed of 1700 RPM
  • Check engine oil temperature and pressures are in the green arc
  • Check suction pressure and check for positive ampermeter indication
  • Check engine EGT and fuel flow
  • Check fuel level

Magneto Check

Let’s test the two ignition circuits of the engine now.

  • Set the engine magneto switch from BOTH to the LEFT position. The rotation speed should only drop slightly by a maximum of 150 RPM. The engine should continue to run smoothly. Otherwise the left magneto has a problem and we should fix this issue on the ground
  • Set the engine magneto switch back to BOTH and let the RPM stabilize at 1700 RPM again
  • Set the magneto switch to RIGHT. Check the RPM drop is within limits again.
  • Set the magneto switch to BOTH
  • Reduce engine RPM

Idle Test

Now we’re testing the engine idle.

  • Reduce throttle to full idle
  • Check that the engine keeps running and doesn’t stall

Run-up check complete

  • Set 1000 RPM again
  • We’re planning to takeoff very soon so we keep the mixture at full rich for takeoff
  • Turn the taxi light back on and release the parking brake once you are ready to continue the taxi


Before Takeoff

Continue on the taxiway and taxi to the yellow hold short line in front of the runway.

  • Set the tower frequency in the COM1, which is 119.7 for Santa Barbara
  • Set the fuel pump to ON
  • Set red mixture lever to full rich
  • Verify that flaps are at the desired takeoff position. We keep flaps up for this takeoff


Always check for traffic even if ATC has cleared you onto the runway. Check both left and right. Once you cross the hold short line:

  • Turn on the landing lights
  • Turn on the strobe lights
  • Set the transponder to ALT by rotating the transponder mode knob

Heading Check

  • Set runway heading with the heading knob
  • Verify that the heading indicator shows the same heading as the magnetic compass
  • Check that the runway you are has the correct identifier and that the runway heading matches your indication on the heading indicator


  • Add full power and hold slight right rudder to compensate for the propwash
  • Maintain the runway centerline with rudder
  • If there is a crosswind hold aileron into the wind
  • At 50 knots add slight nose up input

The aircraft should lift off between 50 and 60 knots

Initial Climb

After lift off

  • Slowly increase pitch and maintain about 10 degrees nose up
  • Reduce back pressure and accelerate while climbing
  • Pitch for 75 knots after lift off
  • Maintain runway heading

After Takeoff

  • Set the flaps to up, which they already should be.
  • Turn the landing lights off
  • Turn the taxi light off
  • Turn the fuel pump off
  • Set the fuel selector to the fullest tank. We’re going to keep it at BOTH in our tutorial

Full Flight Tutorial Available In Wiki

In our Aerofly Wiki have published an in-depth flight tutorial using the Cessna 172 that goes into much greater detail about the instruments and how to navigate using the VOR or how to fly an ILS approach. The flight route for that tutorial flight is available in the Aerofly FS 2022 if you have the region of California installed.

Full C172 Flight Tutorial