Taildraggers - What's the big whoop?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by FormerHangie, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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    iHenning posted this on another thread:

    Unless you count a Schweitzer 2-33, I've never flown a taildragger, so my frame of reference is limited, but I'm not getting what the big deal is about flying (or maybe I should say landing) a taildragger. How is it supposed to make you a better pilot? We all have made good landings and not so good ones, and I could always tell you my good ones from my bad ones.

    Picking out an airplane to fly to me is a little like finding a spouse. Choosing a taildragger seems much like finding a woman with a bad temper. If you are flying out of rough field conditions, I see where the extra prop clearance would be beneficial, but other than that I'm not seeing what the advantage would be to flying a taildragger. For those of us who fly off of paved runways, it seems like obsolete technology.
     
  2. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas En-Route

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    Until you've done it you have no idea.


    Much experience in life is like that.

    There are plenty of threads on the subject. Also over at homebuiltairplanes.com.


    Dan
     
  3. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    Are you familiar with the center of gravity issue in a taildragger?

    In short, the CG is behind the main landing gear in a TW aircraft. If it weren't then the plane would tip forward onto the prop just sitting on the ramp. This is the opposite of a trike, where the CG forward of the main gear sets the plane on the nosewheel.

    If you land a TW aircraft and slam on the brakes, the rear CG will try its best to not stop. Unless you are perfectly aligned with the runway/direction of travel, the CG's inertia will make the plane try to swap ends. This is a ground loop, and may be merely embarrassing to the pilot or it may be quite expensive.

    Flying a TW in requires this landing skill, and flying a TW in a crosswind multiplies the skill required. This skill is usually gained with practice and experience. This is a skill that many nosedraggers never perfect because they don't have to. Nevertheless, the TW pilots carry home the bragging rights uncontested on this one.

    -Skip
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
  4. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    :dunno:

    You have to pay attention and keep it straight. And, while you are learning that, you have to keep your eyeballs outside.

    Oh - you can also do wheel landings so speed control on final isn't that important.

    Other than that? Just different I guess.

    I don't think they make you a better pilot. You just know to pay attention when the wheels are on the ground.

    Why drive a sports car when you can drive a minivan? They both have the same speed limit on the freeway...
     
  5. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Since touch and go's don't count for tailwheel currency. And since it's a freaking long taxi to get back and forth from the midfield turnoffs at ONZ, I do stop and go's. So, I stand on the brakes to get stopped quickly to let me get back off quickly and have some altitude before I fly out over the lake...

    It doesn't seem to be that much harder to keep it straight when braking vs. rolling.
     
  6. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    TWs aren't harder to fly, just easier to wreck.
     
  7. docmirror

    docmirror Touchdown! Greaser!

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    From my perspective it made me a better pilot by enforcing better speed control, and runway alignment. Two things that I see sorely lacking in the trike world.
     
  8. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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  9. GAZOO

    GAZOO Pre-takeoff checklist

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  10. whifferdill

    whifferdill Line Up and Wait

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    The deal is that taildraggers force precision during the landing process that trikes do not. Trikes allow some pilots to be lazy with drift, alignment control, and descent rate at touchdown. It takes a lot more diligence on the part of a trike pilot (and trike instructor) to maintain these precision landing skills that a taildragger forces. But as mentioned, these same skills can (and should be) applied to trikes. The reality is a little different, though. Generally speaking, trike pilots do not maintain these skills as well as taildragger pilots do. Flying a taildragger wakes them up. It's a small added potential benefit, but it's not like flying a taildragger is going to totally transform your skills as a pilot, assuming you were basically competent before.

    The tailwheel configuration exists for good reasons. It's not like they're still making tailwheel airplanes in an effort to force pilots to develop more skill. The tailwheel configuration is more rugged, lighter, mechanically simpler (easier to build), aerodynamically cleaner, cheaper, and allows more prop clearance than trike gear. These various factors play a part in why the majority of Experimentals are taildraggers. Same for aerobatic airplanes and bush planes.

    Lots of people fly taildraggers for the pure satisfaction and increased challenge. The airplane doesn't do it for you like a trike partially does. Others fly taildraggers because all the cool airplanes have tailwheels. :)

    It's sorta like a manual vs. automatic transmission. The automatic is easier. The manual takes skills that are not required in an automatic. Both accomplish the same thing. One is not necessarily a better driver. Some enjoy the technique involved with smoothly operating a manual. Same for taildraggers. To each their own. I happen to think they're more fun to fly than trikes. Again, most of the fun cool airplanes have a tailwheel. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
  11. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Who is still building a tail dragger of modern design? There's a couple old designs out there still built.
     
  12. John Baker

    John Baker Final Approach

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    Standard gear is pretty much obsolete technology except in the bush, however, it is kept alive by those who enjoy mastering an old art, taking pride in their skill. Just watching someone who knows what they are doing, making a cub dance to their will at the airport, is not only impressive, it is fascinating.

    -John
     
  13. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The advantage one gets with conventional gear is not having an upper limit on landing speed.
     
  14. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I love tailwheel discussions. Tailwheel airplanes are more fun because they are more dangerous, everyone tries to say it without directly saying it. We can't admit to that, blah blah balhditty dah.
     
  15. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    When you let ego dictate what you fly, you are looking for trouble. Besides, it's not more "dangerous" rarely if ever is someone injured (outside of pride) in a ground loop or nose over, there is more risk to people on the ground who aren't seen by the taxiing pilot. What the conventional gear gets you is a steep price penalty for a bad landing.
     
  16. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    We won't call it danger we'll call it happy stress.
     
  17. whifferdill

    whifferdill Line Up and Wait

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    You also won't find trike gear on the top aerobatic airplanes - even the ones that are still being newly-built. There are still good reasons for employing a tailwheel design.

    You don't get it. That's fine. I think everyone understands that you're here to troll anyway. They're not more dangerous. Are manual transmission cars more dangerous?
     
  18. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Call it what you like, either way it's ego driven which is not a good thing.
     
  19. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Question, why hasn't there been a military or commercial design with a tail wheel since the 40s? For aerobatics I can see keeping the weight penalty down in small planes.
     
  20. whifferdill

    whifferdill Line Up and Wait

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    Just because tailwheels make more sense in some airplanes doesn't mean they make sense in all airplanes. Don't know why you posted the question. Nobody here is saying that tailwheel makes more sense across the board for all airplanes. Tailwheels would be tough to mount on jet nozzles. :)
     
  21. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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    I've always assumed that aerobatic aircraft use conventional gear for appearance's sake more than anything else. Is there something else going on here? Every military trainer that I can think of in current operation has retractable trigear.
     
  22. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What about Thrush? Both current commercial and military applications.
     
  23. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Power to weight ratio, in a top end Unlimited Aerobatic plane every ounce counts. Plus there are anti spin aerodynamic properties to having a nose wheel that you may not want in aerobatics.
     
  24. whifferdill

    whifferdill Line Up and Wait

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    Already been mentioned - prop clearance, reduced weight, aerodynamic cleanliness, and simplicity (top acro planes are austere in their simplicity). I also happen to think the TW configuration looks a helluva lot better on sport airplanes, but when ounces and every last drop of performance matters on the top airplanes (it does), the trike configuration seriously makes no sense.
     
  25. F01LA

    F01LA Line Up and Wait

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    Bingo! And I say this as someone whose first ride was in a Champ and who loves the nostalgia.

    I have not-so-good landings sometimes. Call me a wimp, but it's nice to know that being slow on the rudder on an off day isn't going to result in a ground loop and $$$. Would I be a better pilot if I flew conventional? Probably. I might also have a hefty repair bill.
     
  26. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    And a few 44709 rides which gets kinda expensive on the old insurance bill.
     
  27. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Looking at my 15-year database for homebuilt accidents, about 47% of the airplanes are taildraggers. However, when one looks at ground loss of control accidents, the percentage jumps to 70....

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  28. F01LA

    F01LA Line Up and Wait

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  29. rwellner98

    rwellner98 Line Up and Wait

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  30. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas En-Route

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    And the rest of flying isn't ego-driven?
     
  31. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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  32. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Sometimes it's utility driven, sometimes career driven. Perhaps that many find it ego driven is why GA has a worse casualty rate than motorcycling.
     
  33. F01LA

    F01LA Line Up and Wait

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  34. F01LA

    F01LA Line Up and Wait

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  35. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The Cherokee has to be just this side of indestructible... (Which is good to know if your landings are as bad as mine.)

    Here's no third wheel at all:
    http://youtu.be/NuGPWn02d-I
     
  36. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    That video led me to this video



    I think I found my future ex-wife
     
  37. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    Jeez there's a whole **** ton of videos of hot girls soloing, strangely enough none of them show outside the airplane.

    Vanity is a funny thing. I do take the occasional flying selfie, but none of my flying videos have ever just been a camera fixed on me in the cockpit. I like to have photographic evidence to prove how good my landings are.

    I'd still poke them.
     
  38. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Cute kid.
     
  39. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    She's probably in her mid-twenties. Definitely older than I am.
     
  40. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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