Cessna 140 Tips, Tricks, Habits

midwestpa24

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midwestpa24
I have a friend with a Cessna 140 that wants a little dual recurrent training with me. He has time in the aircraft, but has been away from it for a while. I have plenty of tailwheel time, but not in this particular make/model. I am trying to get myself up to speed on the type and was wondering if anyone had some insight.
 
With only a little over 200 in type, I doubt I have much to add. The plane is light and the gear is springy. I fly my approaches at 70mph. For a wheel landing, carrying a touch of power makes for smoother arrivals.

@Huckster79
@MBDiagMan
@tonycondon
 
It's been a few years but it flys like an early C-150, no bad habits, but with a tailwheel. Spring steel gear, just like the previous post said.
 
The 120 that I used to own is pretty much the same but without flaps. As stated already, expect the spring steel gear to feel more bouncy.

On takeoff, don’t force the tail up, let it come up on its own with neutral elevator.

Does it have stock gear or extenders?
 
On takeoff, don’t force the tail up, let it come up on its own with neutral elevator.
Tell me more. I was taught to throttle up with the yoke back, then bring the yoke to neutral as you begin to accelerate, then when an appropriate speed is reached, lift the tail, then continue to accelerate until flying speed is reached.
 
Tell me more. I was taught to throttle up with the yoke back, then bring the yoke to neutral as you begin to accelerate, then when an appropriate speed is reached, lift the tail, then continue to accelerate until flying speed is reached.
If memory serves me correctly, that's about what I did in the 120 I learned to fly in.
 
Just don't get your foot under the ruder pedal when your student is doing touch and goes.... like an instructor did with me once.... o_O
We just missed the runway light as we went into the grass and I was letting off pressure so that he could get his foot out.
 
Tell me more. I was taught to throttle up with the yoke back, then bring the yoke to neutral as you begin to accelerate, then when an appropriate speed is reached, lift the tail, then continue to accelerate until flying speed is reached.
Unless you are in heavier grass and you want to get the tail up so the tailwheel isn’t picking up long bits of grass it seems to get off the ground faster if you don’t add any drag, and let the tail rise off the ground on its own. Once the tail is off the ground, you can push a little if you want, or not. I tend to unstick and keep it in ground effect to accelerate.

I had a Cessna 170 client one time and I was able to prove that I could get off the ground in a 30-50% shorter distance than he could consistently.
 
More induced drag earlier in the roll, I guess? I'll have to give it a try. Thanks!
 
More induced drag earlier in the roll, I guess? I'll have to give it a try. Thanks!
I don’t think there’s a one size fits all - if you’re in heavy grass you might want to go ahead and push forward sooner. I think too many people learn one way to do something and think it’s the only way to do it without understanding why they were taught it in the first place.

Especially in the spring steel Cessnas, I feel like excessive forward pushing creates more drag with the interaction with the springs.
 
It's been a few years but it flys like an early C-150, no bad habits, but with a tailwheel. Spring steel gear, just like the previous post said.

Thanks for the feedback everyone, I really appreciate it. I think this was the line I was looking for most. I know certain older taildraggers can have some bad habits if not flown carefully. The Luscombe and narrow gear Pacer's come to mind as planes that will bite if not tended to properly.

I didn't think the 140 had a bad reputation, but I didn't want to find out what I didn't know the hard way.
 
If anything, I’d say, just stay off the brakes as much as possible. I asked about the gear extenders because a lot of the aircraft had the gear extenders added because of people flipping them over but a lot of the 120/140 people think that the gear extenders really don’t help the airplane that much either.

 
If anything, I’d say, just stay off the brakes as much as possible. I asked about the gear extenders because a lot of the aircraft had the gear extenders added because of people flipping them over but a lot of the 120/140 people think that the gear extenders really don’t help the airplane that much either.


As one of my former students told our local DPE, "Brakes are for run-ups and **** ups"

I can't say one way or the other about the gear extenders. I've only seen enough of this aircraft to know it is in immaculate condition. I just Googled what they look like and will have to pay attention next time.
 
I'd share that perspective if I were a CFI flying a random student's plane without personal knowledge that the brake system had been gone over from the pedals to the pads.

I pull my calipers off every couple or three months to clean the guide pins. Thankfully that only cost me one **** up to learn...
 
I'd share that perspective if I were a CFI flying a random student's plane without personal knowledge that the brake system had been gone over from the pedals to the pads.

I pull my calipers off every couple or three months to clean the guide pins. Thankfully that only cost me one **** up to learn...

I can appreciate the perspective about flying an aircraft in unknown condition. In this particular case, I have no concerns. This aircraft is in immaculate condition and is maintained like no other aircraft I'll ever have the pleasure of flying. I bet all of the screw heads even line up.
 
Whether forcing the tail up early or waiting for it to come up on itself makes for a shorter takeoff will probably depend on the aircraft. For most of us not flying in STOL competition it likely doesn't make enough difference to matter.

Probably doesn't apply to a 140, but in my biplane I usually let the tail come up on its own if there are no other planes or people anywhere near the runway. If there's any chance somebody could move into my way while I'm rolling ahead I'll push the tail up sooner so I can see, as it's completely blind ahead until the tail comes up where I can see over the nose.

I don't know why you'd want to use back stick in the early part of the roll unless there was a strong gusty wind and you needed to keep the tailwheel planted firmly. OTOH, I sometimes take off with the stick back to hold the tailwheel down, just for fun... I get off the ground real fast but that's probably because I'm lifting off at a much slower speed than rotating from a level attitude.
 
I don't know why you'd want to use back stick in the early part of the roll unless there was a strong gusty wind and you needed to keep the tailwheel planted firmly.
I figured that the best time for the prop to throw debris into the tail would be in the first ten feet, while the rpms are still climbing and the plane is just starting to roll...
 
In the 120, if one had the original Grabyear brakes, yes.
Converted to Cleveland DIsks? Enjoy them.
OP, Capt is right on that. I was so scared of my brakes when I bought mine I had a tough time on the pavement- till my cfi said next landing was his. He put the yoke in his lap and screatched each brake a time or two- and said “see- keep that yoke in your lap and you can use the brakes”.

I preferred 3 points and aimed for 60mph on short final.

Watch the carb ice! They make it! The owners manual- as it’s no poh, does suggest carb heat from right after start up to take off. I would do my carb heat check by turning it off momentarily and look for a rise. When I bought her I read all 120/140 accidents in the database- far too many “power loss after take off, engine ran fine post crash”. That’s probably carb ice in a known ice maker.

Watch the no take off zone on the gas tanks- it’s prob a 1/3 tank… I always figured every landing could be a take off, if I gotta go around. That could be a lot of gas on board and still be in a precarious zone. So I typically would burn one quite low-then switch and I knew I had 12.5- so once switched I’d plan on being on the ground in an hour.

The flaps are handier fire take off than anything else. If you’re on a rough surface ya wait till ur scooting pretty good, and pop those babies and you would pop right off- then I’d manually bleed em off so no dip from lifting em was felt.

Wonderful machines. I miss mine, I love the speed and comfort of my Mooney but me and my ol 140 were like a cowboy and his horse… if ya ever get one of your own and ya want another plane- make sure ya just add to the fleet and don’t sell her off. I may try to chase my ol 140 down someday when budget allows and “bring her home”. Have one for fast and one for tooling around on a summers eve or going camping.
 
I figured that the best time for the prop to throw debris into the tail would be in the first ten feet, while the rpms are still climbing and the plane is just starting to roll...
The prop may throw some, but I think most of it comes from the wheels. A shorter ground run means less exposure in my opinion.
 
Stay off the brakes with the tail up - ‘46 models are the worst, from mid-’47 on a little better as they swept the gear forward 3’’. The Clevelands may not be grabby, but they are way more than the plane needs.

Will handle a lot of crosswind with the big rudder - a good attribute. Wheels on well in a crosswind. Will truly three point if desired.

I switch every half hour. No take-off is 1/4 tanks placarded on the dial.

Tail will come up on its own or with a little bit of help with a little trim forward of neutral.

Personally haven’t had much carb ice. Engine can be C-85, stroked C-85 or an O-200 conversion. All adequate though stroker is most torquey.

One of the best flying planes around.
 
Stay off the brakes with the tail up - ‘46 models are the worst,
That's what I learned in. You can keep the tail up with the brakes until you come to a complete stop. Then it comes down with a bang. :goofy:

Oh! A hard slip into a low tank on final - bad idea. The engine can go quiet for a moment if you decide to go around...
 
That's what I learned in. You can keep the tail up with the brakes until you come to a complete stop. Then it comes down with a bang. :goofy:
I tend to use very gentle forward stick with minimal braking to keep the tail up. The risk to new pilots is not the dropping of the tail from keeping the tail up until nearly at a stop, but rather nosing the aircraft over with too much braking in the first place. There is a "heels on the floor" landing checklist item for a reason.
 
I owned a '46 with 4-inch wheel extensions when I was a lot younger — over 50 years ago. Then, being somewhat fresh in my mind since I was still pretty much a kid from today's perspective, wheel landings reminded me of jumping on a pogo stick, and I was never very good on those things.
 
I owned a '46 with 4-inch wheel extensions when I was a lot younger — over 50 years ago. Then, being somewhat fresh in my mind since I was still pretty much a kid from today's perspective, wheel landings reminded me of jumping on a pogo stick, and I was never very good on those things.
A little power when learning helps. With practice can be rolled on fine.
 
I figured that the best time for the prop to throw debris into the tail would be in the first ten feet, while the rpms are still climbing and the plane is just starting to roll...
It doesn't take back stick to keep the tail down in the first ten feet, even with full forward stick the tail probably won't come up for a hundred feet or so unless brakes are used.
 
It doesn't take back stick to keep the tail down in the first ten feet, even with full forward stick the tail probably won't come up for a hundred feet or so unless brakes are used.
Not so much to keep the tail down as to keep the elevator up and out of the way, same as pulling out of a tiedown.
 
Not so much to keep the tail down as to keep the elevator up and out of the way, same as pulling out of a tiedown.
This is where question “why?” is helpful. If the main point is just to keep the elevator out of debris, perhaps a slightly aft yoke would be better than full aft, so you have the advantage of the elevator being a little more parallel to the ground, but not completely up? OTOH, leaving it neutral, gives the tail slightly more positive angle of attack, which may raise the tail sooner (less tailwheel friction) and get you off the ground sooner and take the elevator out of exposure to rocks and debris from the wheels faster.

I suspect that 0 to 15 or 20 mph, you probably have more debris being thrown up by the prop, but it’s mostly light and harmless and after that the greater danger is from the wheels throwing up debris.
 
Not specific to the 140, but my early instructors in J 3 Cubs insisted on keeping the tail light to reduce wear on the very small tailwheel. As a student in the rear seat, I had no brakes, so keeping the tail off the runway until quite slow, then gently lowering while still moving was a safe style.

I have flown in 140's, and liked them a lot. Slipping into a low tank is bad practice in either 140 or 150, but the power comes back fast when you straighten up. My instructor showed me that at altitude in the 150.
 
On takeoff, don’t force the tail up, let it come up on its own with neutral elevator.
I tried that a few times today. Probably got off a little sooner, but I didn't love it getting light and wanting to fly off on its own. Maybe it's a style thing like wheelies vs. 3 pointers and I just need to get comfortable with both.
 
I tried that a few times today. Probably got off a little sooner, but I didn't love it getting light and wanting to fly off on its own. Maybe it's a style thing like wheelies vs. 3 pointers and I just need to get comfortable with both.

Yea I remember doing it with my CFI when he asked, but didn't love the feel either, so I'd let the tail rise when it felt ready with just a bit of forward yoke and aimed to keep it still tail low, but I too didn't care for keeping the tail pinned till I left the ground myself
 
Yea I remember doing it with my CFI when he asked, but didn't love the feel either, so I'd let the tail rise when it felt ready with just a bit of forward yoke and aimed to keep it still tail low, but I too didn't care for keeping the tail pinned till I left the ground myself
Depending on the temps and engine installed, a 120/140 may fly off in a 3pt ok and keep flying, but it will be at a very low airspeed. Find it more stable to let the tail rise a little and get going a bit faster first. Easier to accelerate in ground effect if needed since the attitude reduction from liftoff is much less.
 
Depending on the temps and engine installed, a 120/140 may fly off in a 3pt ok and keep flying, but it will be at a very low airspeed. Find it more stable to let the tail rise a little and get going a bit faster first. Easier to accelerate in ground effect if needed since the attitude reduction from liftoff is much less.

Absolutely! Out west in high DA I really used accelerating in ground effect a lot, I’d get her in air asap but then just hang out a bit before trying to gain alt, she performed amazing for the DA and I think letting her “get on step” before hanging on the prop helped a lot.

My highest was about 8500’ da, and she did her! However 9600 and hot was too much for mine- she flew but not well enough to leave airport environment- I gently circled, landed and considered myself “weathered in” on the prettiest day you’ve ever seen.
 
Pretty much all of the 65 and 85hp aircraft I've flown do best if allowed to accelerate a bit in ground effect anyway.
 
So how about for student pilots? So many pilots learn to fly in a 150 / 152, would anyone recommend learning to fly in a 140 instead?
I think learning to fly a taildragger makes a student (or any pilot) more aware of using rudder properly, nailing the correct airspeed on short final, continuing to "fly the plane" during landing rollout, and better control of attitude & airspeed on takeoffs. If one is going to learn to fly in a taildragger, what pros/cons would there be between a 140 and a Cub?
 
So how about for student pilots? So many pilots learn to fly in a 150 / 152, would anyone recommend learning to fly in a 140 instead?
I think learning to fly a taildragger makes a student (or any pilot) more aware of using rudder properly, nailing the correct airspeed on short final, continuing to "fly the plane" during landing rollout, and better control of attitude & airspeed on takeoffs. If one is going to learn to fly in a taildragger, what pros/cons would there be between a 140 and a Cub?
In principle learning in a tailwheel is the way to go. The skills you acquire will serve you throughout your flying career. I would recommend the 140 over a Cub as I think the days of learning in a tandem aircraft have passed, although I guess with good radios and intercoms it's not as bad as once perhaps. Also a Cub is more forgiving than the 140 in many ways. Personally don't much care for a stick either (sacrilegious I know) and most anything you fly bigger is more likely to have a yoke anyhow.
 
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