Tailwheel endorsement, typical time

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by saddletramp, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. saddletramp

    saddletramp Line Up and Wait

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    Tonight at our EAA meeting I had a pilot approach me about getting his tailwheel endorsement in a Kitfox that he recently purchased. He asked me how many hours it would take to get his endorsement. I told him I'd sign him off when he was proficient.

    Typically how much time does the average pilot have before being signed off? I haven't done a tailwheel endorsement for a few years so just asking for opinions.
     
  2. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Depends on how current they are and what they fly.

    But I’d say like 60-70% of how ever many hours it took them to solo.

    There is a large difference between a “fun weekend” endorsement where the plane is only available for dual, and actually being signed off knowing your going to solo right after.
     
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  3. Eric Stoltz

    Eric Stoltz Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My typical sign off was usually between 6 and 40 hours. For example, 6 hrs zero to solo for a 16 year old kid that grew up on a farm, to 40+ hrs for his 50 year old uncle that was a lawyer with a Bo'. YMMV. It's all about time, attitude, and the chemistry between the pilots in my experience.

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  4. Duster

    Duster Pre-Flight

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    6-10 hours tops, more than that is a fishing expedition.

    If it takes an instructor 20-25 hours to sign a student off, either they are wholly incompetent/inexperienced, or the student is a very rare exception.

    But...40 hours for a tailwheel endorsement, that is highway robbery! If it takes you that long to teach a basic transition, you are the one in need of instruction.
     
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  5. Eric Stoltz

    Eric Stoltz Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I appreciate your accusation to the criminalization of providing adequate and effective flight instruction to the very rare exception.

    To the OP, my apologies, I never answered your question. I told my students to plan and budget 10 hours if they can make it happen in two weeks. More time if they have a life outside of aviation, beautiful family, have discretionary funds, can't dedicate a compressed training footprint, wx, mx, have a high performance airplane that has provided him with plenty of time to hone his self admitted lazy feet, and little effective primary training due to flight instructor attrition and replacement - as in my example.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
  6. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Well either that or you have a student that is lacking in ability to handle the plane safely regardless of which end the little wheel is on.
     
  7. Steven Untet

    Steven Untet Pre-Flight

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    When I bought my 170 my insurance requires me to get 20 hours sign off or not. And that includes my endorsement. The instructor was ready to sign after about 8 but we had to fly anyway.


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  8. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    3-4 hours if the guy understands how to fly a plane. Like any aviation endorsement, it's a license to learn. A 4 hour taildragger pilot is not proficient in all conditions.
     
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  9. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Meet the Fokkers
    If one feels they are having to put in extra hours for insurance requirements, might take that opportunity to get some hood time, cross country, both, etc..
    Just a suggestion ..

    Edit: yes, after proficiency.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
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  10. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    My syllabus was typically covered in 5 hours.

    Much of the first hour was Citabria familiarization. For many pilots it was their first exposure to a stick and/or tandem seating. What you’d typically do in a checkout, ending with a demo full stall landing and time for the student to try a couple.

    Second and third hours, usually full stall touch and goes. Often enough to figure them out, though a lot depended on the pilots existing ability to land at or near a stall.

    Fourth and fifth hours introducing and practicing wheel landings, crosswind landings and maybe some short field approaches.

    I’d say about 80% of the time that was enough for the endorsement and solo privileges. When it took more it was from pilots used to “flying it on” who had to relearn stall landings.
     
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  11. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    What's stupid about that is they should make the requirement a number of takeoff and landing operations, not a number of hours. If you go fly five four-hour cross countries, you got your 20 hours, and a whopping 5 landings - which isn't enough to be proficient.
     
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  12. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Cleared for Takeoff

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    The insurance company would be better served to require x number of landings, rather than time.
     
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  13. MauleSkinner

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    My syllabus ran about 10 hours...I wanted to expose them to varying conditions for each of the operations.

    I could usually find a loss of control that I could talk them through without damage in that time, too.
     
  14. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Anyone who wants a hard number doesn't understand. Average for me was probably closer to 8. I did one in 3, but he was a helicopter pilot who's feet and brain worked together very, very well. 40 sounds high, but I'd believe it. I've not-signed-off the endorsement and sent a guy home before because the probability of a major accident was too high in my opinion. Proficiency is demonstrated repetition and demonstration of understanding without help in my book and if a student can't demonstrate that, they aren't ready no matter how many landings or hours it takes. I've signed off plenty, and feel like I was being overly fair to a few. If you aren't proficient in tailwheel and as an instructor yourself, I'd suggest it probably will take a bit more time, too. The more proficient you are as a tailwheel instructor, the more you know how far you can let a student go before you "save" the plane and that helps a student learn.
     
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  15. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    I'd disagree. There are any number of cases out there where it could take longer for an instructor to feel comfortable signing off and intensity of training may play a role, too.
    Examples:
    1. An older student in their mid-60s with very little PIC time and not particularly skilled but has the money to go buy a Luscombe and you know he'll be taking his girlfriend, buddies etc. for hamburgers at challenging airports the minute you sign him off would be a likely scenario.
    2. Weekend warrior - comes once a week for an hour and a half session and may miss a week every month. This could easily go 12-20 hours, especially if you feel you need to get them into crosswinds.
     
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  16. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    I have been told by old salt instructors that for someone who has never flown a lick, they will typically solo tailwheel in about the same amount of time as if they were flying a tricycle.

    For me, I flew my first seven hours in an Aeronca Champ and was landing it with help before moving to a 150 for solo and about 50 hours before life caught up with me. Twenty years later I came back to flying and solo’d again in a 150 and flew it six or eight hours before buying my tailwheel 140 to finish my private. I don’t know how many landings it took in the 140 before I solo’d because I can’t count that high.

    My point is that I believe that for someone comfortable in a tricycle, it will statistically take significantly longer than someone who has never flown before. I am sure there are some budding Chuck Yeagers out there that can do it in a few hours, but there are some for which it will be a significant project.
     
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  17. hamer

    hamer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It took me about 8 hours. But I took a week long course where I eventually logged 25 hours. I was a brand new 45 hour private pilot at the time. I did mine in a kitfox as well, it's a very easy airplane to fly, and doesn't have very many bad habits.

    The fun is the the journey not the destination. Just like getting a PPC, if you are too focused on the end goal you'll stress yourself out and miss out on all the fun/learning.
     
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  18. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    That's true...
     
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  19. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Interesting side note and pro tip for those considering doing tailwheel. I did 10 hours with a CFI and got my tailwheel endorsement. He was one of the few CFI's with a tailwheel airplane doing endorsements in the area at that time. And if you did an endorsement with him, you did 10 hours and not a penny more or a penny less. At the end of that 10 hours I had an endorsement but my tailwheel skills were sketchy at best I think. Ended up doing a few more hours with another guy from out of the area and that got me polished up much better.

    I think it was a few months later when I found out the reason I learned more in 3-4 hours with the second guy than I did in 10 hours with the first. The first guy was a college professor by trade who also held a CFI cert. He knew a ton about how to teach. Unfortunately everything he knew about tailwheel flying he learned in exactly one trip around the pattern when he bought he first tailwheel airplane. That and whatever else he managed to figure out on his own.
    The second guy? He learned fly tailwheel back when that's what you learned to fly in and he learned to teach in the army.

    Moral of the story: Regardless of how talented you are as a teacher, you can't teach what you don't know. When you're looking for a tailwheel CFI don't just ask how much tailwheel experience they have. Also ask how they were taught tailwheel.
     
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  20. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    It does matter... that's for sure. I got a huge break in flying with a bunch of older guys flying vintage L-birds down at Cannon Field in San Antonio ( www.als-cannonfield.com ) who were real old-timers when I was a pretty fresh pilot. There are hidden gems lots of time right under your nose but not in plain sight.
     
  21. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    I did mine in 4.5 in an Aeronca Chief but then again if Bob Hoover was still alive he would be calling me for flying advice so...:):rolleyes:

     
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  22. Hacker

    Hacker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I must be an oddball...when I jump in the taildragger, I like to stay in the pattern or go to a nearby field with a nice little crosswind to grow that proficiency.
     
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  23. Joey4420

    Joey4420 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I fly and Ercoupe without rudder pedals and have around 140 hours just flying this aircraft. I keep thinking of getting my Tailwheel endorsement for fun and so I might get a second aircraft. So to the original poster I would say what is the plane they have been flying. For me I am betting it will take more than 10 hours since I haven't had to use my feet other than for the brake in almost a year and a half at 140 hours. Heck it will take me more than an hour to remember my feet are supposed to move.
     
  24. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I may be slammed for saying this but I'm going to say it anyway. We talk about teaching your feet when we talk about learning tailwheel but that's not really what needs to happen. If you can taxi a plane with nosewheel steering, your feet already know what to do. There is nothing new for them to learn. That parts that need to learn new skills, or hopefully just better skills, are your eye and your brain.

    Your feet already instinctively know how to steer an airplane on the ground. There's really not too much that's different there. What's different is the tolerance for any deviation in the alignment of the spinner and tail is much smaller than it is in a nosewheel airplane. Its extremely small. Almost microscopic. So you need to train your eye to become laser focused on the alignment of the spinner and the direction of travel i.e. the end of the runway typically, and you need to become hyper sensitive to any lateral movement of one in relation to the other.

    This is what you already do in a nosewheel airplane. But those planes are so forgiving that your perception of lateral movement is not nearly sensitive enough. If the nose starts to move even a fraction of an inch, you have to correct for it right now with enough rudder to stop that movement but not too much rudder. Your feet already know what to do. To me, the learning is in training your eye to be much more sensitive to lateral drift than you're used to and training your brain to process that info faster than its used to.
     
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  25. Joey4420

    Joey4420 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    @Juliet Hotel I would agree with you and I like the way you put it. I am just stating that at least in my case; 140 hours without rudder pedals it would take me even longer to get use to things. I steer on the ground with the yoke and in the air, basically drive it like a car.
     
  26. mondtster

    mondtster Pattern Altitude

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    I agree with your premise but I think you're blowing it a bit out of proportion, at least when it comes to the more docile tailwheel airplanes. You can have some pretty sloppy landings in the typical tailwheels that people learn in. If you couldn't, people wouldn't be able to solo them with minimal time. They do however require more attentiveness to directional control than a tricycle, which I believe is what you're trying to get at.

    I think the biggest thing people need to do is to learn to use their feet while they're actually flying. Taxiing an airplane around on the ground with your feet is one thing but getting your feet to do something while also using your hands to do something else during the flight is another. The typical training airplanes used today encourage this sloppiness because there is little or no adverse yaw in most of them and you can fly most of the maneuvers needed to pass a checkride with your feet flat on the floor.

    Going from an Ercoupe with no rudder pedals (where you intentionally land the airplane crooked when there is a crosswind) to a tailwheel airplane may take a little longer than average but I can't imagine it will take that much time, assuming an average pilot and an average airplane.
     
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  27. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Exactly. Attentiveness. That's the word I should have used. The thing that needs to be learned is a heightened level of attentiveness rather than some new trick with your feet. The trick with your feet is the same old trick you learned in primary training. You just have to learn to be quicker and more precise about it.
     
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  28. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    I keep mine around for the same reason. I have adequate hangar space for it, insure it for $600 and usually annual it for about that. It’s also a hoot for my wife and I to go sightseeing around the Lake Country.
     
  29. jbDC9

    jbDC9 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Dang, it’s a wonder I’m still alive, or at least haven’t ground looped yet! My tailwheel checkout was 1 hour of dual in a Champ, summer 1987, as a new CFI. After that, I was off and running flying taildraggers every chance I got; luckily, this was prior to needing the endorsement which came about in 1991. In the ensuing 31 years (damn, I’m getting old) I’ve logged 2300+ hours in taildraggers with no ground loops or scraped wingtips. Knock on wood...
     
  30. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Coming from the students end, I'm close to my TW endorsement in my "New" C-140. I'm at about 6 hours or so in practicality, 12 on paper but 6 was flying it home and all I did was taxi and cruise so those don't count in my mind. I would expect its likely I have it within 8 hours or so, weather has drug it out longer than hoped calendar wise.

    But I think whats more important as a guage more than hours or even number of landings is steady progression... If someone makes incremental steps but taking longer so be it, if someones been at it a long time and no progression, then its time to think about options. My first option if that is the case is to change the instructor/student matchup. Doesn't mean instructor or student is bad, but that the teaching style and learning style aren't a match for learning. In primary training I wondered as I approached hour 20 and didn't feel close to soloing if I was cut out to be a pilot. Bothered me deeply as it had always been my dream. I switched instructors and soloed in about 3 hours, a different teaching style brought it all together...

    If I had it to do over again, I would have learned from the get go in the 140 (or similar) instead of the 152. I believe it would have been easier to develop the right habits from the get go... If my boys take interest in flying I am confident the 140 will be a great platform for them to learn good footwork from lesson 1 on...

    I'm very very lucky both local instructors are tail wheel pilots themselves, one flies a Super Cub the other a 180. I am sure they have let me learn from some ugly take offs and landings that an instructor with limited TW time wouldn't have let me learn from as much... My best advice to a TW trainee, learn Tailwheel from a true tailwheel pilot
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
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  31. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    BTW, learning Tailwheel has been the an absolute amazing experience... Everyone should do it. I can see why TW pilots always say that. But besides the practicality of learning good footwork- its just plain freakin fun!
     
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  32. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Funny, I don't have a tailwheel endorsement. I do have hundreds of hours in various tailwheel airplanes and taught myself to fly a conventional gear in a Cessna 120. At the time, I was a 1300-hour CFI and flew almost every day, so proficiency was just a matter of taking what I read in "Stick And Rudder," and applying it to a fun little airplane.

    I have not yet experienced a ground loop or a busted landing gear, so maybe I will someday...

    I'd say it took me about eight or ten landings to get the hang of it. One of my most dear accomplishments!
     
  33. MauleSkinner

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    Obviously it can be done...I know several people who were “thrown the keys” to their first taildragger and told to figure it out themselves. Unfortunately, the success rate was low enough that the FAA mandated an endorsement.
     
  34. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yup

     
  35. FastEddieB

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    I respectfully disagree.

    With a nosewheel, one can gradually increase rudder pressure to get the desired result.

    With a tailwheel, I feel there’s a fundamentally new skill to be learned, that of quickly applying rudder in the desired direction, followed immediately by rudder as necessary in the opposite direction. And so on. “Dancing” on the rudder pedals, as it were. So I feel there is “something new for them to learn”.

    Not sure I’m expressing this well, but from teaching numerous tailwheel transition courses, that’s my impression.
     
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  36. RoscoeT

    RoscoeT Cleared for Takeoff

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    You are correct, your feet absolutely have relearning to do when transitioning from a nosewheel. Nosewheel pilots can just lazily apply rudder pressure until the nose comes back where they want it, and then neutralize and be on their merry way. Any tailwheel pilot knows what will happen if you do this in a taildragger.
     
  37. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    The big thing to learn is to react now don't wait and see what happens. Many small corrections when they are needed as opposed to waiting to see what it will do and putting in a big correction. Once you notice it starting to really go it is likely too late.
     
  38. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    That's what I was getting at. When the nose goes left and you want it to go right, you push with your right foot. When it goes right and you want it to go left, you push with your left foot. From that perspective, its no different than you do in a nosewheel plane. What is different is becoming conditioned to detect movements of the nose while they're still very small and correct for them before they get bigger. In nosewheel plane, you can let the nose swing several degrees left or right and still correct it. So nosewheel pilots tend to not even notice those small intial movements of the nose because they don't have to.
     
  39. RoscoeT

    RoscoeT Cleared for Takeoff

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    But there's still more to it than detecting and correcting small deviations. The new foot skills that must be learned in TW is not only detecting and countering small deviations with opposite rudder, but also actively STOPPING the initial rudder correction before the nose swings back the other way and you start chasing the airplane. This is what nosewheel airplanes do not require at all, and what nosewheel pilots must develop new foot muscle memory with.
     
  40. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I didn't say there wasn't anything new to learn in the feet with tailwheel. Wait scratch that I see that I wrote there is nothing new for them to learn. So I take that back. That shouldn't have been in the post.

    You do have to learn to counter steer. Maybe its me but counter steering never gave me much trouble. To me it was still just use your feet to control the nose. The difference was you have to learn control it to a much tighter tolerance than I was used to which meant learning to be more sensitive to what it was doing. I dunno, could just be me but I found it to be more eye than foot. And though I haven't taught it formerly, I've had to coach a few whose skills were rusty and weak. Working on getting their eye going seemed to get them on the right track much more than practicing any kind of exercise with their feet. They knew what to do and how to do it, they were just way too sloppy about it. Again, could just be me and the people I've happened to work with.