Tailwheel tips?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by LoLPilot, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    More often self-appointed internet experts are wrong.
     
  2. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Indeed. Once upon a time there was a local CFI who had a few hundred hours in a pretty docile bird and thought he knew everything about tailwheel flying. That bit him when he was trying to give pointers to a guy with a type he was unfamiliar with. It cost that guy a prop due to the instructor's insistence that things can only be done a certain way.
     
  3. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    If the Decathlon is a docile bird I think I'll stick with that for a while before I move to anything challenging! :lol:

    On takeoff he kept telling me "tail up, tail up, more forward pressure, get the tail up," and after one takeoff I said I really didn't want to strike his prop and he laughed and said the front seat view can seem a bit precarious but in that plane you had a lot of room before you got into trouble.
     
  4. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah. It’s not like you are flying a Hellcat or Corsair where you have genuine prop clearance concerns
     
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  5. N3368K

    N3368K Cleared for Takeoff

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    Personally, the whole push forward and get the tail up on taildraggers is a BAD HABIT. It is a crutch to help see over the nose rather than using peripheral vision. You can get away with it in many airplanes, but others not. In a Swift, shoving the yoke/stick forward below about 45-50mph will send you on a big swerve off the left side of the runway than only brake will arrest...rudder alone won't stop it. Of course, putting the tailwheel back on the ground will. In many airplanes with bigger engines, shoving the stick forward will cause a immediate swerve of some magnitude.

    I watched a friend in a new to him S1S Pitts decide to "fast taxi" he did okay until he decided to raise the tail, somewhat abruptly. He was a passenger and along for the ride at that point as the plane departed the runway and ended up in a small ditch. Fortunately, no prop strike and only a couple of small holes in the fabric on lower left wing, but he was close to really tearing it up...all because he decided to push without understanding what was going to happen.

    It is much better to begin with full back stick and as speed builds slowly ease off until the tail rises off the ground without being forced by undue forward stick. For a normal takeoff, let the tail come up some degree (personal preference how much), but I prefer a tail low attitude and let the plane fly when it is ready vs a tail high and rotate as some specific speed. To be perfectly honest, I never look at airspeed on take off role. I'll check it as I begin a good positive rate of climb.

    Keeping the tailwheel stuck is even more important when you have a crosswind, especially a left crosswind. Never shove the stick forward to pick up the tail, but do it gently. The faster the tail comes up, the faster and greater in magnitude is the swerve...and the more difficult the recovery.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  6. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    One thing that guys in here have mentioned is to keep "outside" the plane more, and he mentioned that. When he was letting me feel the plane out we were doing stalls and I kept aborting them because I felt like I had a wing drooping and the plane didn't have an attitude indicator. He said this is pitch attitude flying now and not to look at the console. Periodically check that I'm still at flying speed and not in the yellow and that I still have oil pressure and other than that everything is outside the plane. Same in the pattern. I asked him what the approach speeds he used were because it said 75 mph in the POH and he said I usually run it about 85 until final and then probably about 70 or so over the threshold. On downwind I dutifully called out "downwind, 85," and he said don't watch the indicator - do you feel fast or slow? Cross reference that with your indicator and then go back to flying the plane. He has many hours in it but it is really impressive / humbling / inspiring to watch him fly it. He demonstrated wheel landings to me from the back. After we had stopped he asked me how fast he was when he touched down and I said "75." He told me that's what he thought, and to try to learn to fly the plane based on how it feels. I wanted to get this endorsement to get back to the "roots" of flying. I think I'm going to get more than I bargained for but I do feel like I'll be a better pilot for it, whether I choose to continue flying conventionals or tricycles.
     
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  7. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Depends a bit on the airplane. In the DC-3 you want to push the nose forward and get the tail up sooner than later. The same technique in the Beech 18 will put you in the grass!

    But yes, generally speaking it is best to let the tail fly when it’s ready.
     
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  8. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Get him to put the prop vertical and pick up the tail to see just how much clearance you have. You’ll have a nice view of concrete if you pick the tail up far enough to strike the prop. What you can do with the decathalon however, won’t transfer into all other tailwheel airplanes.

    The citabria/decathalon is indeed a tame tailwheel. It’s a decent plane to learn the basics in and more interesting to fly than a 172.
     
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  9. N3368K

    N3368K Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'll have to trust you on the DC-3 and the recent accident certainly reinforces your point. I agree on the Beech 18. I think the push and get the tail up is the exception (DC-3 noted) and a bad habit for most taildraggers. Three point takeoffs are standard for most Pitts. I know that is all I ever do in them.
     
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  10. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I definitely prefer 3 point takeoffs in the biplanes.

    Interesting thing about the Beech 18 is if you search the NTSB database for Beech 18 and ground loop, you find almost as many ground loops have happened on takeoff as landing. Largely due to people forcing the tail up too early.
     
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  11. whifferdill

    whifferdill Line Up and Wait

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    Hey Jim, the way your brother described it, the **** hit the fan when he pulled power off after getting the tail up, which of course killed the propwash that is directional control at low speed. An S-1 has little rudder authority with the tail up at low speed/idle power. Not good on a short-coupled, directionally skittish airplane. Moral of the story, tail up taxiing requires more skill than just flying the airplane, so if you lack the experience/confidence to just push the throttle full and fly, tail up taxiing is unwise. At full throttle the Pitts has plenty of rudder authority to immediately pop the tail up on take off...but that's totally pointless. I did it like you describe - gently nudge the tail up about 4" when ready, and let it fly off. If you wanna see over the nose in a Pitts, you're flying the wrong airplane. ;)
     
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  12. N3368K

    N3368K Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yep. Pulling the power ensured he had zero directional control and just a passenger. When I saw the tail come up abruptly and the swerve, I was ah-oh. When he yanked power, I said ouch.
     
  13. N3368K

    N3368K Cleared for Takeoff

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    Very similar for Swifts.
     
  14. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Also if you’re flying a plane with manual flaps gotta to learn how to almost use them as a collective crossing the fence.
     
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  15. Eric Gleason

    Eric Gleason Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What does the POH say about raising the tail on takeoff for the Decathlon? The instructor who checked me out in the Champ taught me that the best/shortest takeoff technique is to start with the stick about 1" forward of neutral. The tail will come up on its own that way and the plane will fly off as soon as it's ready.


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  16. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    It just said forward pressure to raise tail as desired.
     
  17. j1b3h0

    j1b3h0 Line Up and Wait

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    Some airplanes make a lot more work when the tail is raised early, some it doesn’t matter much. I’d put the Citabria/Decathlon in the later camp,...you could literally let go of the stick during the takeoff and it won’t matter. But, if you choose to raise the tail, it’s best done slowly, and after it’s rolled some and gathered speed, lest a vivid demonstration of gyroscopic precession is what you have in mind, and as noted, worse with a left crosswind. I’m told folks who bring the tail up real fast in a powerful airplane such as a P-51 only do that once. Never flown one, so I don’t know for sure.
     
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  18. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    He waited to tell me that til after we were moving. I would guess about 35 mph or so. Again after the check to see if airspeed was working he had me trying to take off based on feel. It seemed like the plane more or less levitated itself off the runway when it wanted to. Then we would pitch for VY
     
  19. Ben Diss

    Ben Diss Pre-takeoff checklist

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  20. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson En-Route

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    I’d 2nd the recommendation for the Complete Tail Pilot. Great single reference. But also be aware that each taildragger has its own idiosyncraticies and best practices. The onyly thing they all have in common is they need to be kept straight when contacting the ground. Whoops, not true for AC equipped with crosswind landing gear but you won’t run into that.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=cr...biw=1024&bih=653&dpr=2#imgrc=bd4tUu3bSsDmlM:


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  21. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    Keeping the stick in the right position in regards to wind while taxiing will impress your instructor.
     
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  22. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    I have been trying to be mindful of that! Apparently the rear seat is a bit tight because when I first pulled the stick back on taxi he said "not that far back!"
     
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  23. djpacro

    djpacro Pre-Flight

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    It tickles!
     
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  24. j1b3h0

    j1b3h0 Line Up and Wait

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    Does your instructor demand you always keep the stick back during taxi?
     
  25. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    Yep! That's pretty much all he had me do first day. He took care of the remaining crosswind correction and I just followed him. I got to do takeoffs and landing rolls up to the point where I got it swerving.

    It feels like my presolo pattern work again where I can't figure out how to land the plane!
     
  26. RoscoeT

    RoscoeT Pattern Altitude

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    You will learn to adjust the elevator position depending on wind direction and strength. You can end up on your nose in some light tailwheel airplanes if you turn away from a strong wind with the stick/yoke absent-mindedly in your gut.
     
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  27. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    Meet the Fokkers

    Another VERY important book is regarding the Reserve tank, and making sure it is properly filled.
    Generally located under the seat of Taylorcrafts.


    upload_2018-8-10_12-55-16.png

    Warning: Ground looping may continue after laying down.
     
  28. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    After emptying it you can't take off for 8 hours!
     
  29. N3368K

    N3368K Cleared for Takeoff

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    Especially important for Double Oaked variety. So smooth it will sneak up on you.

    That's why I always takeoff before dipping into the Reserve. :D
     
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  30. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    Sorry to restart a necro thread but I figured this was better than posting a new one.

    Second tailwheel lesson today! I felt more comfortable in the Decathlon today and felt like I was more ahead of the airplane. We went over to a class D to use their runways. It was pretty bumpy but I'm closing in on getting the three points. I can tell my CFI is still on the controls with me but I'm flying more of the landings myself. He did let me get a POI going so I could see what that felt like. After the second hop I figured out what was going on and got power back in. We took one more bounce but it was starting to fly again so only two hard bounces. None of this seemed to bother him too much at all. We've also done wheel landings with me following him on the controls. His Rudder work on that is almost too fast for me to comprehend. He told me that he didn't really think about it and it was just on feel anymore.
     
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  31. N3368K

    N3368K Cleared for Takeoff

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    I’m not a CFI, but flew with a couple of pilots checking them out in airplanes I owned to help get them back in the tailwheel saddle. It showed me quickly I wasn’t cut out to instruct.

    Agree about no having to think about it and just feeling it. That was what made instructing difficult for me...letting them get far enough out so they could learn before correcting the deviation myself. One, an ATP, with t/w endorsement caught on and did okay. The other guy, a grandfathered PPL, never did get it...even after flying with three others, including 2 high time t/w CFIs.



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  32. Goornogo

    Goornogo Filing Flight Plan

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    Hang in there! I just received my TW endorsement a couple of days ago. At some point, the feet will wake up and you will start to get the "feel" as well. The best word that I can use to explain the whole experience is "humbling"...in the end, entirely worth it! Once you get a little further downstream, maybe you will do some confined approaches which are basically short patterns with steep turns base to final in an slip. Concerning at first but a great tool to have in the bag if needed. Oh, and at the end of course, the one wheel down the runway exercise...Keep us posted on your progress...As my instructor said, it's a process...Have fun! :biggrin:
     
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  33. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    I made my first 3 point yesterday without the assistance of my instructor! We did a couple of them and then we started working on wheel landings. There was a light (5 kt) crosswind component and just a little bit of bumpiness around the pattern so it was a perfect instructional day IMO. Challenging enough to make it interesting without being too difficult to get things done. I am starting to develop a feel for the Decathlon as far as what it wants to do and what it is doing. Especially takeoff. I'm to the point where I can tell when it wants to fly and all I need to do is check the ASI to double check that it's at rotation speed and I've found that I am starting to "feel" 65-70 mph. I am loving the experience of sitting in the middle of the plane with the stick in my right hand and the throttle lever in the left. I'm also just loving the Decathlon. My instructor told me to be a bit more authoritative on the controls than I'd be on a Cessna and to run my pattern turns more aggressively. Once I started doing that I felt like I began to bond with the plane more. I am kind of enthralled with that machine!
     
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  34. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Administrator Management Council Member

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    Spoken like a true tailwheel pilot. ;)

    I feel that way every flight in my 180.
     
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  35. RoscoeT

    RoscoeT Pattern Altitude

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    This is all personal preference, but there is no need to jack the tail up high. Some pilots like to jack the tail way high to an almost negatively loaded pitch attitude, loading the gear like crazy and then waiting for a "rotation" speed to yank it off the ground. Or...

    ...don't bother. Raise the tailwheel a foot off the ground, hold that pitch attitude, and the plane will fly off when it's ready, no matter how it's loaded. No need to look inside the cockpit during the T/O run. No one correct way, you will figure out the style you prefer with experience. Instructors have personal preferences like anyone else, so don't take anyone's particular cookbook or technique as gospel.
     
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  36. redtail

    redtail En-Route

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    That's how I feel about the Super D. It's my only tailwheel and aerobatic experience, but I fell in love with the airplane. Wheel landings were probably the most challenging aspect for me, but once it clicked after roughly three flights, it felt great. If you get into PIO, don't wait too long before applying power and going around! My CFI let me bounce it a few times (while chuckling in the back seat,lol), but fortunately I knew not to let it get too far out of hand. I powered up and went around.

    It's a fun airplane once you get a handle on it. Wish I'd did my primary flight training in it rather than the Skyhawk.
     
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  37. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    Mine let me do a PIO as well. On the third bounce I got full throttle back in and he laughed and said I wondered how long that'd take you! I'm glad I did my primary in a Skyhawk. It was the equivalent of taking driver's ed in a minivan versus a Miata!
     
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  38. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Paint by numbers is not ideal


    Except with a good CFI a POA won’t be something you’ll ever know about.

    172s are far too easy to be a good trainer.
     
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  39. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    I think picking the tail up is primarily a visibility thing which is not as important on a runway as it might be out on a rock strewn field where you'd also want to do it to protect the tailwheel from the rough terrain. On a paved runway I think you will find that just pouring on the coals and rolling in the three point attitude the plane will just take off on it's own without any other actions on your part. There are in fact at least a couple of stories of hand propped Champs that got away and I mean actually took off and flew away with nobody in the driver's seat.
     
  40. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    That's not funny and I shouldn't have laughed but I did.

    I'd love to do airplane off-roading one day.