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tail dragger difficulty?

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tail dragger difficulty?

Old 28th Nov 2017, 21:29
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tail dragger difficulty?

I guess that the answer is "it varies". The question is, coming from a nose dragger which one is very familiar with, how challenging will a conversion to the tail dragger version of the same be? Oh and I am quite able to dance on the on the pedals, a skill I learned when I got an R22 licence (now lapsed). In my case, the aircraft is a Rans S6 microlight. Is this a benign tail dragger type?

A chap I know bought a tail dragger, as his first aircraft, after training on nose wheel types, all different to his own. After much ringing around he was not able to find a microlight instructor with a tail wheel qualification and aircraft or an instructor prepared to travel to him and train him in his own aircraft. After much delay and some thought he eventually converted himself. Probably not to be recommended but needs must. In the end it was a non event, perhaps his aircraft is not too twitchy.

Rans6............................................
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Old 28th Nov 2017, 22:16
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It's not that difficult at all, the main things you have to remember are:
* When taxiing always do as you were trained for your PPL, position the control surfaces to climb into a headwind and dive away from a tailwind
* You ain't done landing till she's parked up in the hangar
* Re-read your PPL books on P factor: left turning tendencies on take off and understand a which point in the takeoff roll they come into play especially when you lift the tail
* Full aileron deflection prior to take off roll in a crosswind then unwind it as needed (no skipping across the runway)
* Dont get lead feet on short final keep your feet loose and active.
* Absolutley no drift and no crab on landing, hold it cross controlled (slipped) and aligned with final, land on the upwind wheel first if you have to.
* When cross controlled in an x-wind if you run out of rudder authority due to the wind being to strong, find another landing site or shave a better angle across the runway your trying for.
* And most importantly try keep the wee wheel behind you.

This book explains it well, again it's not difficult.
[IMG]The Compleat Taildragger Pilot https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0963913700/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_zVDhAb7PW3DNC[/IMG]
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 05:16
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Agree with the above. It’s not difficult but you do need to be proactive with the rudder and anticipate when and how to use it.
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 07:53
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No experience with an S6 myself.

But your R22 experience will stand you in good stead.

However find someone with experience who can teach you the important things. I have read the books and find them to be of very little practical help and have not recommended to anyone wanting to learn to fly a tail dragger.

A couple of good briefs by an experienced tailwheel instructor is more helpful and you can practise what you have been told immediately during the post brief flight.

Last edited by Flyin'Dutch'; 29th Nov 2017 at 08:18.
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 09:03
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" Re-read your PPL books on P factor: left turning tendencies on take off and understand a which point in the takeoff roll they come into play especially when you lift the tail"

Errrr - they don't turn left because the 3rd wheel is at the back. Nor do they all turn left when you lift the tail!
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 09:28
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There's always one smart arse!
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 10:14
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I don't understand your comment Cirrussy. The post I commented on was suggesting to someone who had asked advice that taildraggers have a left-turning tendency on take off. This statement is erroneous, being overly simplistic and a crude generalisation. I have flown quite a few taildraggers that swung to the right on takeoff, while some Griffon-powered aircraft don't swing either way. Was I being smart - or perhaps you're not that bright?
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 10:41
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Originally Posted by Thud105 View Post
Was I being smart - or perhaps you're not that bright?
Sorry Thud , but that just wasn't necessary !
Andrew's original post was to ask about the foibles of taildragging. One of the good things about forums is that there is a plethora of information and helpful tips available from fellow pilots .
Whether your tailwheeler has a tendency to wander left or right upon raising the tail depends on your engines D.O.R. doesn't it ?
Now , let's get back to the core subject shall we.
But without the nastiness.
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 10:50
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Reprimand accepted Chris - apologies to Cirrusy. Having a bad day, aching joints.
However, you must agree that promulgating erroneous information on forums is not a Good Thing? The post I commented on was suggesting to someone who had asked advice about flying tailwheel aircraft. It stated that taildraggers have a left-turning tendency on take off. This is not that accurate, is it?
Apologies to all again - grumpiness shouldn't be transmitted via the keyboard.
PS It doesn't just depend on the engine's D.O.R., it's mostly the prop. That's why I said "some Griffon-powered aircraft don't swing either way."

Last edited by Thud105; 29th Nov 2017 at 10:55. Reason: Missed a bit!
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 11:04
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Very little difference in handling.

Especially if you began flying in gliders....

Don't worry about it, the same rule applies...KEEP A GOOD LOOKOUT.
On the ground, taxying a taildragger, the nose does get in the way...that's why nosewheel planes were designed, so you could see over the nose without having to turn a bit from side to side. Modern light aircraft were designed to give you less to think about...

When you are lined up at the end of the runway, and add power, the aircraft will tend to assume a level attitude. With either nosewheel or tailwheel, make sure the level attitude is correct; dinging a prop on the ground is equally embarassing, in nosewheel or tailwheel light aircraft. I was lucky and never bent an aircraft, even in Ireland....
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 13:10
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Posters, courtesy in posting is appreciated!

I have experienced "swing" while lifting the tail during takeoff, to the point where rudder application was inadequate to control my path. This effect, however, for most GA planes is much less pronounced. There may also be a torque effect, and that of a crosswind. These effects can combine, or may cancel each other out, depending upon direction. However, the effect of swing when lifting the tail on takeoff is a directional destabilizing effect which is not present on a tricycle aircraft.

The steerable tailwheel may be used to control direction - at speeds slower than 20MPH or so. Faster than that, whether the tailwheel is on the ground or not, the rudder will be the most effective control you'll have with which to steer.

The aileron must always be applied into a crosswind of any strength during takeoff and landing. This should result in the upwind mainwheel leaving the runway last, and contacting first. My experience has been that wheel landings gave me a feeling of greater control during crosswind landings.

If you choose to land three point, it's worth remembering that once the tailwheel is on the runway, you can no longer control the pitch of the aircraft. This is fine, if the aircraft is "down". However, if a bounce, or a gust causes the aircraft to try to fly again, you'll have to either ride it out with the stick back, or lift the tail to regain pitch control, and begin the landing again. If you have wheel landed, with both mainwheels on the runway, you can move the stick slightly forward, to reduce the AoA of the wing, while the aircraft slows, and a bounce is prevented.

The application of brakes without the combined application of lots of up elevator is unwise.
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 13:17
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If you already fly an S6 most of the potential difficulties are behind you.

I've been test flying a short tail S7 (VLA - just) and been pleasantly surprised by its directional stability. I suspect the S6 has similar adverse yaw from the ailerons so your feet will already have a good idea what to do.

So the remaining challenges? Let the tail come up in its own time and the S7 yaws very little. The spring legs mean you have to finesse the touchdown and I suspect the S6 loses airspeed the same way as the S7 does - rapidly - so the hold off has to be just clear of the ground.

I suspect you could probably teach yourself given suitable open spaces, but an LAA coach might be a good choice if you cannot find a microlight instructor. (which sort of presumes it is the microlight version!)
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 15:47
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Nice acknowledgement there Thud....
But aren't aching joints normal for gents of a "certain vintage". If I wake up and my joints aren't complaining then it's normally a sign that I'm not drinking enough beer........
But back to tailwheeling,,,Gasax raises a good point about the S6 and similarly too with early Kitfox's. Don't assume that an entry level price tag means entry level handling characteristics as some of the light and short coupled tailwheelers are twitchy little so & so's .
Having been fortunate enough to do a few hours in Stearmans I can say they are great big gentle giants. Also , getting some time in a J3 Cub will give you a good feel for tailwheeler handling. Whatever you do , don't try giving yourself "self-tuition" in one of the smaller, lighter types. They're like dogs , the smaller ones bite the worst. Gasax also raised a good point about contacting an LAA coach.


Now ,,,where the heck's my Allopurinol tablets gone...
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 16:26
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I see this simple - there may be a reason many aircraft in WW2 were taildragger and I guess due to the inexperienced young pilots it is not them (the aircrafts) being complicated.
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 16:49
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Thud, not to be arguementitve but I see you disagree with my post about the a tailwheel aircraft not having more left turning tendencies than a trike. I'm no aeronautical expert but I've got about 1000 hours flying Maules equipped with Bushwheels (making them sit prouder) and purely from flying experience when I go to lift the tail I have to apply a little extra right rudder on the transition. I'm lead to believe, but could be wrong, this is because the force being applied to the 12 o'clock position of the prop when lifting the tail creates gyroscopic precession effect at the 3 o'clock position making the aircraft turn left. Granted this is on a aircraft with D.O.R turning clockwise as seen from behind as most GA aircraft are, and also as all my flying is on 235hp or below machines the extra rudder needed to counter the turning is not a great deal more but it certainly does need some that a trike wouldn't.
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 16:54
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The whole turning tendencies thing (and being ready for it) is a bit of a red-herring.

Keep looking out the front and correct any incipient turn quickly (no matter the direction)!

On landing, you should be all over the pedals (and brakes if you have/need them) to keep her straight. Busy feet and you'll be fine...
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 17:01
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Friend of my owns and flies an S6 taildraggger. Allow yourself a weekend on the continent, I am sure he'll be prepared to take you for a ride.
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 17:18
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Thud,

I know that not every tail wheel aircraft turns left. You (obviously) know that, too. We all have absolutely no doubt about your significant flying experience that nobody else could possibly have. Thank you for imparting your knowledge on us.

The point of my post is that piperboy also knows full well that the yaw depends on the rotation of the prop (as he would have learnt this during his tail wheel training) and taking the opportunity to publicly flog him was not really deserved given the spirit with which he posted.

At no point did piperboy say that after reading his post you could exempt oneself from completing the required training... Although I'm sure you already knew that, too.

Anyway, added sarcasm for your viewing pleasure. Let's move on!
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 17:22
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Hi Piperboy, your analysis of why your Male yaws left as the tail comes up is essentially correct, although along with precession there's also P-factor, the spiralling slipstream and other factors in play, along with any X-wind. With the really powerful taildraggers (I've flown a few) the fuselage is trying to be torqued in the opposite direction to the prop's rotation. This can increase the rolling resistance on that side, which also increases the propensity to yaw. Aileron is useful here, but the tendency to yaw is the sum of several things. My comment was that they do not all yaw left when you lift the tail! Quite a few taildraggers (in fact quite a lot!) yaw to the right as the tail comes up, some (a few) don't yaw at all. Fully agree that more rudder is required than with a trike though! PS If you feel I 'publicly flogged you' I apologise -that was not my intent. I just thought I'd point out to the OP that - contrary to the impression I believe your post gave - not every taildragger has an inherent tendency to yaw left.

Last edited by Thud105; 29th Nov 2017 at 17:42. Reason: Crap punctuation!
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Old 29th Nov 2017, 17:34
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Originally Posted by piperboy84 View Post
It's not that difficult at all, the main things you have to remember are:
* When taxiing always do as you were trained for your PPL, position the control surfaces to climb into a headwind and dive away from a tailwind
Depends on whether the tailwind is stronger than the propwash. If it is, you need full forward stick when taxying downwind. If the propwash is stonger, full back stick will pin the tail down.

How can you tell which you need? If the tailwind is stronger than the propwash, on holding neutral elevator you'll feel through the stick that the elevator will want to go either full up or full down, blown by the wind. If the elevator is happy to trail in the slipstream when you hold it neutral, the propwash is stronger than the tailwind.

But of course, power changes (and perhaps gusts in the tailwind) can change things.

* Absolutley no drift and no crab on landing, hold it cross controlled (slipped) and aligned with final, land on the upwind wheel first if you have to.
Never had any problem crabbing taildraggers into cross wind landings. You can use either method. I preferred the crab. But of course the crab method assumes that by the time you touch down you will have removed the crab and gone to a 'slip' to remain aligned with the runway.

It's vital that you are looking as far down the runway as you can when you land. That way, any tendency to swing will be noticed immediately and appropriate rudder used to keep straight. But don't over-control the rudder or you'll get PIO in yaw. Just use 'enough'.

But FD is right - a good tailwheel instructor will cover all this and far more.
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