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Taming The Taildragger  
User currently offlineBragi From Iceland, joined May 2001, 218 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3414 times:

Hi everybody,

I´m currently learning to fly a taildragger, and it´s a bit like learning to fly all over again!
The airplane is a Citabria 7ECA and I was wondering if you guys had any tips for managing the crosswind landings?
Normal takeoffs and 3-point landings are fine, but when it comes to landings in a strong crosswind I get the same feeling as participating in a rodeo. Big grin

Here is a saying most of you have probably heard;
"There are two kinds of taildragger pilots: those who have ground looped and those that will."
(I´m trying to belong to the latter group as long as possible!) Wink/being sarcastic


Muhammad Ali: "Superman don’t need no seat belt." Flight Attendant: "Superman don’t need no airplane, either."
22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineIllini_152 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3266 times:

By being an a rodeo, do you mean you keep experiencing pilot induced ocillations when attempting wheel landings? (Mains hit, bounce, try to recover and it only gets worse from there?) I had a problem with wheel landings at first because I was misinformed about the procedure.

Above all else, listen to your flight instructor! But this is what helped me out alot:

Read "The Compleat Taildragger Pilot" (that IS spelled correctly) good book, and as good an explanation as I've heard. Essentially, what I usually do now is approach my landing with ever so slight nose down trim, at the same speed as a 3pt landing. As the plane begins to settle in the flare, instead of increasing back pressure, try to just hold it, and as the plane settles on the mains, don't push forward stick, but just reduce some of the back pressure ever so slightly, that should be all it takes. If you find yourself bouncing, recover into a 3 point landing.

FWIW, I found it neigh on impossible to consistantly grease a 7ECA on pavement without at least a little bounce, what with the spring steel gear. A 7AC Champ with oleo struts, or J3 with OLD bungees is so much more forgiving, kind of like landing in warm butter. BTW, NEW bungees in a PA-12 make for a ROUGH ride on an unimproved field.




Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
User currently offlineMr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2787 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 3230 times:

Hi guys.

> Bragi, I hope you're having a lot of fun while learning how to fly a Citabria 7ECA taildragger. I'm sure you'll tam the rodeo actions of the Citabria soon enough, and hopefully you will never become a member of the Ground Loop Club.

The only taildraggers I've ever been in were a few DC-3's and a Pitts S-2 Special, but, they were parked on a ramp.


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Once you've mastered your landings, you can start on your twin Citabria training!  Laugh out loud


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Chris  Smile



"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3137 times:

Most of you know I own a little L-21 taildragger...
You call that a Piper Super Cub...
xxx
I consider that taildragger flying should be required for initial basic flight training.
You learn to drive a car... you should do that with a 4 speed conventional gears and clutch.
Driving an automatic transmission later, if you want to.
Same for airplanes. Transition from taildragger to tricycle gear takes 30 minutes...
The opposite, learning taildraggers might take many hours of dual.
xxx
Primary reason to have a L-21 for me is to teach my son to fly.
I have to admit it is nostalgia too, since I learned to fly in a J3C Piper Cub...
I dont have that much time in lightplanes... maybe 1,000 hours by now.
But 900 was in taildraggers like the Cub, Super Cub or Citabrias...
Funny is, if I attempt to rent a plane in USA, they ask "how much taildragger time you have...?"
They dont ask me "how much tricycle gear time you have...?", should I rent a Cessna 152.
xxx
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper


User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 3125 times:

In my opinion, Skipper is spot on. Years ago, when I flew for a major airline, the 727 Chief Pilot told me that he could tell by the way a pilot flew the 727 if he had taildragger time or not. His inference was that pilots with taildragger experience did a noticeably better job. In the 20 years since he told me that, I've found no reason to disagree with that statement.

I'll even take it one step further. If I were king of the universe I would make it a requirement for all beginning pilots to have glider experience as well. The "feel" that you develop as you learn to fly the glider will help you in all of the fixed-wing flying that you do from then on. The confidence that you develop in the ability to handle the inevitable engine failure will be in valuable.

When it comes to this type of training, I am a fan of anything that forces you to learn skills that will make you a more proficient airman - besides, they're a heck of a lot of fun.

Jetguy


User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 3096 times:

Jetguy -
xxx
I appreciate your comments and opinion. You too are right about the gliders.
Actually I did glider training beforhand, but did not solo on gliders until later,
because of age... but I only went as far as 10 flights and 2 hours solo time.
But it was great to learn these basics as well.
xxx
I have known student pilots, young and no prior experience, to solo in gliders with merely 6 to 8 hours dual training, and thereafter taking airplane training with engine (specified "taildragger") such as, nowadays, a Champion... and going to first solo after again a mere 6 to 8 hours with an engine...
xxx
Other note, Jetguy - why in the hell did they lock "My Dad"...
Not too nice, to lock something that was in his memory.
Personal messages are not welcome... blast it... Tech.Ops works OK.
Why not be lenient and re-open it, please. You have our support.
xxx
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper


User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 3084 times:

Skipper's right.....Moderators, why do you always have to close the good threads? Stop being....well, yeah. Just reopen the damn thing- respect for his father, nevermind your "rules"

Prepare for deletion.....

DeltaGuy


User currently offlineBragi From Iceland, joined May 2001, 218 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 3050 times:

I agree with Jetguy and Skipper, taildragger flying really enhances one´s flying skills, and every pilot should try it.
Definitely more fun and more challenging.

------

Jetguy, I am very sorry about your loss.
I offer my deepest condolences.

Bragi






Muhammad Ali: "Superman don’t need no seat belt." Flight Attendant: "Superman don’t need no airplane, either."
User currently offlineJBirdAV8r From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 4489 posts, RR: 21
Reply 8, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 3047 times:

I must say that the taildragger experience I'm currently getting in a Cub is really helping me out with my tricycle-gear landings (and I didn't think they were that bad, anyway!) There's nothing like the satisfactory feeling the first time you have to land a taildragger in a quartering tailwind...


I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
User currently offlineDC3CV3407AC727 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 314 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3023 times:

Just relax,turn off the radio, pull the plug on the transponder, open the side window, inhale the breeze at 500 feet, feel the lift on that beautiful wing through the joystick,slip down finals, 3 point onto the turf, let your feet be in sync with your ship,make friends with the rudder, taxi back,and repeat. Read a lot of Gann,and St.Ex, quit your day job,and fly for a living,tailwheel airplanes are where the true wild heart of aviation still beats. Godspeed,God bless!


the rumble of round engines is like music to me,likewise the thunder of thr JT8D
User currently offlineIllini_152 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3016 times:

DC3,

Amen to that! My first (I talk like I've had more than one!) flying job was towing banners in ratty Cubs. To get on the waiver, you had to pick up and drop two banners while the FAA watched on the ground. After my first successful go 'round, I had to wait for the ground crew to recover the banner and set it back up.

I could tell they were having trouble, as they were new at their jobs too, and I was getting impatient, and was starting to get upset. Then it hit me- Mike, it's a sunny June morning, you're in the back seat of a cub, circling a grass strip at 300' with the doors and windows off. You've got the wind in your hair, and the sun on your face, AND you're doing it on someone else's dime. What are you mad about!?

I can't wait to get back to that... two more months 'till the next banner season.



Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 11, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 3006 times:

Bragi you got some good advice from these posts. I'd agree, pay attention to your instructor and try to absorb it all. Don't be afraid of it, but respect it. Above all, fly the thing all the time - until it stops rolling.

Not only do taildraggers prefer rolling tail-first, but you have an angle-of-attack kind of built-in. They are typically light in wing loading and they can decide to go flying again, or partly flying if you don't pay attention. They generally have a high CG and narrow wheel track. They need a pilot who, to borrow from our FAA's Performance Standards, is "the obvious master of the aircraft, with the successful outcome never seriously in doubt."

With about three thousand hours of taildragger time I am still in the first category - never groundlooped. However, I don't exactly jump at the chance to fly them anymore.

I can look back over a career in many, varied and wonderful aircraft and some of the greatest personal satisfactions come from taildragger moments.
I'd love to spend another day like some I can recall, landing an L-19 on dirt strips surrounded by tall pine trees, following a jungle river in a Helio Courier, waddling along the taxiways of SFO in a DC-3 or following an underground telephone cable down a mountainside in a Super Cub.

Oh yes! Enjoy this time.




Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17030 posts, RR: 67
Reply 12, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 2988 times:

Ok, for the heathens among us (never even been a passenger in a taildragger but listened to my wife's uncle tell many stories about flying them), could someone please explain what a "groundloop" is.


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineIllini_152 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 2988 times:

Ever try and drive really fast in reverse? Same thing.

Tricyle gear aircraft are inherintly stable on the ground. If they are not pointed in the direction of travel, their landing gear will straighten them out.

In conventional gear aircraft your steering comes from the tailwheel. Since your pivot point is coming from the rear, if the aircraft is not perfectly aligned with the direction of travel (ie- touches down in a crab) it will try and swap ends. Consequently, the pilot has to be on top of the airplane ANY time it is on the ground, it is rare that you will see a pilot's feet not moving in when taxiing a conventional gear airplane.

Adding to the difficulty, most tailwheels are NOT directly linked to the rudder pedals like in many trikes, but use an indirect linkage, involving springs of some kind or another. One form will allow a certian ammount of steering, but if you exceed that limit, they will unlock, and caster freely. Most Piper singles use this style of tailwheel.

A groundloop is kind of like spinning a car at a good clip. It should also be noted that a ground loop is not ALWAYS a Bad Thing. Sometimes it can be your last resort to avoid a Worse Thing.

My one and only groundloop was intentional. Landing on a grass runway boarderd on both sides by tall trees in a PA-12, I found out on rollout that part of my steering linkage broke, I could only steer the tailwheel to the left, leaving only aerodynamic pressure on the rudder to correct to the right (which ain't much at low speed and idle power). To complicate things, my right brake had also blown out earlier that day. Well, the plane started to veer left, I couldn't correct to the right, as I started towards the treeline, I stomped on the left brake and rudder pedal, fed in inside aileron, and spun the plane around the rest of the way. I came to a rest after spinning 270 degrees, an thankfully didn't drag a wingtip.

Hope this helps.



Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17030 posts, RR: 67
Reply 14, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 2978 times:

Ok I understand now. Thx for the explanation.


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineArrow From Canada, joined Jun 2002, 2676 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (10 years 5 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2838 times:
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I did my first taildragger time in a deHavilland Chipmunk. But with that wide-track set of mains it was pretty forgiving. The differential braking took some time to get used to, but even that wasn't too bad.

Then I bought a Luscombe, and found out that I hadn't really learned how to handle a taildragger yet. The Luscombe can be nasty if you don't pay attention -- short wheelbase, and it sits pretty high. I never groundlooped it, but I did run off the side of the runway once in a gusty crosswind -- very humiliating since I did it in front of an Air Canada DC-8 waiting to take off. didn't break anything, fortunately, but damaged my pride severely.

I agree with Skipper and jetguy -- get good on a taildragger and you're automatically a better pilot. It should be a training requirement.



Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
User currently offlineWhiskeyflyer From Ireland, joined May 2002, 224 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (10 years 4 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 2723 times:

Also get the book "Stick and Rudder", old but still published and widely available.
Improved my landing to no end (but still learning every day)

As my instructor used to say "Keep the stick back" and "rudder pedals" during taxi, always keep those feet moving.



User currently offlineBragi From Iceland, joined May 2001, 218 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (10 years 4 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 2706 times:

Whiskeyflyer, I just got the book Stick & Rudder, great reading Smile.

I find the most difficult part about flying a tailwheel airplane are the wheel landings in a strong cross wind. Does anyone have tips and tricks regarding those?



Muhammad Ali: "Superman don’t need no seat belt." Flight Attendant: "Superman don’t need no airplane, either."
User currently offlineIllini_152 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (10 years 4 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 2680 times:

I find the most difficult part about flying a tailwheel airplane are the wheel landings in a strong cross wind. Does anyone have tips and tricks regarding those?

Practice and judgement.

Find am airport with multiple runways on a windy day so you can gradually increase the crosswind component. That way, you can slowly work up to a stronger and stronger x-wind.

Crosswinds are tricky in taildraggers, and many pilots have a much lower x-wind limit in a conventional geared airplane than in a trike. Once you find where your limit is at the end of your training, continue to practice. As you get a better feel for the airplane and wheel landings in general, gradually increase your limits. BUT use your judgement; when to go around and when to find another airport with better of runways.

My tailwheel instructor, on the day he signed me off, took me up to and past my limit. When I reached my limit and was able to salvage the botched landing into a successful go-around, he was confident that I could be cut loose to explore the edges of my skillset on my own.

--
Mike



Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
User currently offlineWhiskeyflyer From Ireland, joined May 2002, 224 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (10 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2589 times:

with regard to landing on strong cross wind days.

I find the landing also depends on where you come in on the runway. My taildragger tends to fly the left. I take this into account when landing, so if the wind is coming from the right, I basically aim for the right side of the runway, as by the time I straighten out etc in a strong cross wind I find myself over the centre line or left of it.
Then I go for the three pointer landing, to get her solidly on the desk. I don't want my tail sticking up in the air for the wind to pivot it about.
Its not a greaser landing but in a cross wind, getting safely down is the point.

No point aiming for the centre line because by the time you flare etc, you could find yourself trying to concentrate on not having one wheel off runway, or hitting lights etc., then its very quickly do a go around decission time.
(some may not agree with this, but it gives me more tarmac to play with)

Also a handy rule of thumb (not just for the tail draggers) is add half the cross wind speed to your normal approach speed.
Always come in with more speed in a cross wind.

My scarest cross wind was 15Kts gusting to 25Kts, at about 60 degrees to runway. Did two missed approaches.
Third time I landed, shut down and went for a stiff drink. Never sweated so much in my life.


User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29795 posts, RR: 58
Reply 20, posted (10 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2550 times:

A groundloop is kind of like spinning a car at a good clip. It should also be noted that a ground loop is not ALWAYS a Bad Thing. Sometimes it can be your last resort to avoid a Worse Thing.

Want to see the perfect example of this. Rent the Movie, "Airport"

The script called for the aircraft to stop right before the end on the runway. However on the day that final sequence was shot the runway crews cleaned up all the snow off the runway so that anything kicked up wouldn't block the airplane from view and ruin the shot.

So when the Flying Tigers crew (They where provided the 707 in Trans Global colors) where coming down the runway and hit the brakes, they started to skid. The captain didn't want to kick up the reversers since there where a bunch of grips operating the lights on some pretty shaky platforms and he was afraid he would end up knocking 20 or 30 of them to the ground. And he couldn't run off the end due to the Approach lights and the film crews working on them. So he intentionally groundlooped it.

The director was apparently thrilled with the scene, not realizing that skid at the end wasn't faked.



OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
User currently offlineBuzz From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 697 posts, RR: 21
Reply 21, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 2504 times:

Hi Bragi, Buzz here. I've been busy this week with family things and haven't stopped by to check the Airliner's page in a week or so.

There are a few forums out there where taildraggers are discussed. One of my favorites is the "fearless Aeronca Aviators" (f-AA) We generally ask and answer questions about Aeronca flying and rebuilding, but any polite question about airplanes is OK. I hear there is a short wing piper forum...

There are people with a lot more tailwheel time than i have. For gusty winds i think i'd wheel land her. Then you have more airspeed / more rudder control when you're close to the ground (compared to being near a stall in a 3 point landing). And i always slip to handle crosswinds, i don't "crab and kick it out" because i need a few seconds to see if my crosswind correction is doing OK.
Gusts make it hard to predict. And if the wind is strong enough, land across some of the runway instead of straight down the yellow line: your ground speed is lower (due to the strong wind) so your roll-out would be shorter. And if the runway is airliner wide (150 foot) the runway is plenty wide.

I still prefer landing on grass, it's more forgiving of small mistakes. Sometimes you don't have that option.

g'day
Buzz Fuselsausage: Line Mechanic by night, DC-3 Crew Chief by choice, taildragger pilot for fun.


User currently offlineBragi From Iceland, joined May 2001, 218 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2507 times:

Thanks for your advice everyone. After today´s lesson my instructor signed me off after 5.9 hours, so now I can go and scare my friends as well! Big grin


Muhammad Ali: "Superman don’t need no seat belt." Flight Attendant: "Superman don’t need no airplane, either."
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