Would you choose to learn to fly in a tailwheel aircraft?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by DanWilkins, Apr 7, 2018.

  1. DanWilkins

    DanWilkins Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2018
    Messages:
    206
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan
    If a cub, champ, etc. were offered to you as primary trainers, would you choose such a plane over a tricycle gear plane?
     
  2. azblackbird

    azblackbird Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2017
    Messages:
    1,337
    Location:
    Colorado Boonies
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    azblackbird
    In a heartbeat.
     
  3. Stickman

    Stickman Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Messages:
    149
    Location:
    0AK1
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Stickman
    I learned in a 1947 PA-12, it wasn't that unusual in 1977.
     
  4. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    17,242
    Location:
    Behind you!
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    I learned to fly in a 7AC.


    Later CFIed primary students in tailwheel

    Highly recommend it.
     
  5. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Super Moderator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,722
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Mtns2Skies
    I didn't learn in a tailwheel, but I sure wish I did. As soon as I discovered T/W I've never gone back.
     
    Dana likes this.
  6. Old97

    Old97 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2014
    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    Bayou City
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Old97
    Yes definitely. It will make you a better pilot with not much more time or effort on your part.
     
  7. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    9,797
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    eman1200
    Sure.
     
  8. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    3,621
    Location:
    Colorado
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    coloradobluesky
    I own and fly a tandem tailwheel and I think a pilot would be better off learning in a 172 or Cherokee or similar.

    Reasons are lack of willing tailwheel instructors, few tailwheel rentals, instructor doesn't have good access to radio and other controls, DE might not be comfortable giving a check ride in a tw. Difficult landing safely at night and or correcting students mistakes. And let's face it tailwheel have more groundloops especially with low time pilots.

    A side by side tailwheel like a Cessna 170 would be easier, but still.

    If you want to fly a tailwheel, plenty of time to add it on after you get your ppl.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
  9. N3368K

    N3368K Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Messages:
    984
    Location:
    Collierville, TN
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    JimR
    I didn’t have much choice. All our planes were taildraggers. The J-3 was the only two seater. It was 1978 and from my dad’s grass ag strip.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  10. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,342
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ryan
    Yeaaaah budddyyy!
     
  11. mondtster

    mondtster Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    1,908
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    mondtster
    Sure, if one was available. I wouldn't go out of my way to learn in one however.

    I believe the more important thing to find is a quality instructor. If that instructor only has tricycle gear planes to teach in/rent then so be it.

    Personally, I've wondered why more flight schools aren't using tailwheel airplanes as primary trainers. What's the cost of a new Citabria? If the pricing on them is about where I think it is, you could probably come close to being able to buy two of them for the price of a new 172 or Archer.
     
  12. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2015
    Messages:
    2,258
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Sundog
    I guess it doesn't matter, at least not the flying part. Taxiing, and of course landing, it does. . .it might make you a better "lander", but not a better pilot. After rotation, and until just before touchdown, no diffrence. It might be more fun to start in a taildragger, maybe?
     
  13. Mason

    Mason Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,377
    Location:
    SOCAL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Mase
    Yes.
     
  14. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,906
    Location:
    KLAF
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    455 Bravo Uniform
  15. Stewartb

    Stewartb En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2014
    Messages:
    4,898
    Location:
    Anchorage, AK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    stewartb
    There’s not much difference in the flying part. Communicating, navigating, decision making... those are the important things. Steering a plane around on a taxiway? Not so much. I love taildraggers because they suit what I do. That’s not important for a student or low time pilot. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run.
     
  16. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    10,459
    Location:
    DXO124009
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Light and Sporty Guy
    It's stupid easy to learn to fly in a simple taildragger like a Cessna 120 (based on my experience).
    Transitioning to a nosewheel is no big deal other than getting used to using those flap things (again, based on my experience).
    But it appears that it can be difficult to make the transition from a nosewheel to a tailwheel once you are set in your ways (based on my observations).
     
    Lindberg and timwinters like this.
  17. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    5,249
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    If I had it to do over again and know what I know now, yes.
     
  18. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    2,345
    Location:
    FL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Salty
    Converting to everyone else’s time scale, that’s “In 2 1/2 years”
     
    WannFly and Lindberg like this.
  19. wilkersk

    wilkersk Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    May 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,095
    Location:
    Puget Sound
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    KennyW
    I got my TW endorsement in a Citabria, I've also flown a Champ a little. Either of those aircraft, IMHO, would make fine primary trainers. I've gotta say though, neither of those aircraft prepared me to fly a tailwheel aircraft with real adverse yaw tendancy and a normal CG/main gear relationship such that keeping the thing pointed straight was any challenge. I kinda wonder what it must've been like to do your student solo in a Stearman years ago.
     
  20. HAPPYDAN

    HAPPYDAN Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2017
    Messages:
    66
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    HAPPYDAN
    If it were an updated model, like the Legend Cub, sure. I took a lesson in a '41 J3, and it was fun, but I couldn't lose the feeling that it was flimsy, cantankerous, and maintained by a shade tree mechanic. No radio, loose controls, questionable gauges, rattling door, drafty - you get my drift. With only 65 hp (maybe), don't expect a vertical take off. The one landing I was allowed to make was actually quite smooth and easy, because it slows so quickly and easily, touches at just over 30 mph. Just keep the stick back and the nose straight.
     
  21. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    17,242
    Location:
    Behind you!
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    I always thought the 172 and PA28 and the like we're bad trainers because they masked bad habits too well, like sending your small kid to math class with a calculator.

    Having a hard time to find a qualified CFI or DPE is a different problem.


    If it's shade tree, bad gauges and loose controls, that has nothing to do with its age, but moreover the lack of how it was maintained, same can happen to newer airframe.

    On a side note, having flown planes from newer turbines to basic 1940s airframes, the dispatch rate was much higher on the older stuff, and the repairs were often faster and easier than the newer stuff.

    I did my PPL and CPL land add on in a 1940s 7AC, I never missed a flight due to it being down for mx, only snag I had was when the dipstick came loose of the oil cap, mechanic fixed it in like 10min.
     
  22. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    10,459
    Location:
    DXO124009
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Light and Sporty Guy
    The 152 I got my retread review in had a radio.
     
  23. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Messages:
    12,420
    Location:
    mass fla
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    ron keating
    I would ,if I was going to fly a tailwheel after training.
     
  24. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Ejection Handle Pulled

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    2,455
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tarheelpilot
    I find TW to be fun to fly...some of them. Learning in one will keep you honest when it comes to aircraft control on takeoff, landing and ground operations. I learned in a 172 and transitioned to TW as a private pilot, taught in TW as a CFI and earned a living in one years later. When it comes down to evaluation of pilot skills the most important ones are related to knowledge and decision making. If you choose to fly TW it will make you more precise during certain phases of flight but there is not a direct correlation to being a "better" pilot. Just my take on it...
     
  25. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    29,123
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tom-D
    In 1954 it's all we had. The first tricycle I flew was a brand new 172, and it scared the hell out of me when the nose went down on landing, I liked to pulled that yoke out by the roots.
     
    denverpilot and Stickman like this.
  26. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2017
    Messages:
    152
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    easik
    Not sure if I would initially but I'd love to get my TD endorsement at some point.
     
  27. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2015
    Messages:
    10,759
    Location:
    My own special place.
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Old dog w/o new tricks
    I did my conventional gear training in a taildragger.
     
    Skyrys62 likes this.
  28. DanWilkins

    DanWilkins Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2018
    Messages:
    206
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan
    I've been told that learning to fly in a Stearman wasn't considered a monumental challenge. It is a solid, honest plane that teaches so many things well. I've never flown one; however, maybe one day I'll take a stab at it.
    These days many view the Stearman as a challenge to fly because many are more familiar with 172s, Archers, etc.. In the early 40s prospective students knew little about tricycle-gear planes.
     
  29. DanWilkins

    DanWilkins Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2018
    Messages:
    206
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan
    I like it!
     
  30. FloridaPilot

    FloridaPilot Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,401
    Location:
    Florida
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    FloridaStudentPilot
    (IMHO)

    I learned in a Champ (Tail dragger) and other than staring out in a glider it was the best way to learn. Landing and takeoff wasn't a big deal but it is different than learning in a tricycle gear. With a Champ you have to continue to fly the airplane until you are at a FULL STOP. You can't use the brakes while landing because you will flip over so the brakes are pretty much useless most of the time. You land the airplane until the airplane doesn't want to fly anymore, Airspeed is king. We approach around 60 MPH.

    I say go for it, it's a good learning experience! If I could do it, I KNOW anybody can!!
     
  31. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Messages:
    2,241
    Location:
    The True Southeast
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Doc
    I did, and heartily recommend it. :rockon:
     
  32. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2017
    Messages:
    462
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Stan Cooper
    No. The only reason to have initial training in a taildragger today is for bragging rights ("Real pilots fly taildraggers"). The whole meme about the only way to learn how to use the rudder is by learning in a conventional geared airplane is B.S.
     
  33. nosehair

    nosehair Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    1,011
    Location:
    Myrtle Beach
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    nosehair
    Due to the absolute law of Primacy, much like the law of Gravity, which is constantly in effect whether you are conscious of it or not, initial touch and control of the rudder for directional/heading authority during take off and landing is best learned, initially, in the tailwheel because nature requires it.
    But you only have to solo, to get over the initial rudder vs. aileron conflict, then the rest is easy, and you can slide into the easy nose wheel trainer and kill it.
     
  34. Plano Pilot

    Plano Pilot Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2016
    Messages:
    183
    Location:
    KADS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Plano Pilot
    It might not be the only way but it is the best way:)
     
  35. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    853
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Uncle Jesse
    I want to get my TW here soon. Will report back after. Gut instinct says yes however.
     
  36. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    11,830
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    weilke
    If available at comparable cost, sure.
     
  37. DanWilkins

    DanWilkins Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2018
    Messages:
    206
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan
    There are folks who learn to fly a tailwheel airplane without an instructor and at a very low cost. Then they go for a checkride with a CFI, demonstrate proficiency and get an endorsement. I've seen it done many times.
     
  38. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Messages:
    14,658
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Fearless Tower
    It would be interesting to know how many/what percentage actually did their first solo in a Stearman. One of the things I have noticed over the years is that a lot of pilot candidates in WWII actually got some initial training in Cubs/Interstate Cadets at military contracted civilian schools before they were sent to start their official military flight training.

    That said, a Stearman is really not a hard airplane to fly. The challenge comes if you get sloppy/lazy in a crosswind. Back then the field arrangements/runway alignments were a lot more generous and x-winds weren’t as much of a challenge as they are today.

    Also had ALOT more grass fields which are far more forgiving for bad technique in tailwheels.

    And also a different attitude about ‘prangs’

    The whole adage about ‘there are those who have had ground loops and those who will...’ came from those days. People didn’t sweat prop strikes and wing damage like we do today. They had tons of spares and skilled maintainers so changing a prop and doing quick fabric/rib repairs was no big deal.

    Seen a lot of old photos of airplanes nose down on the flight deck of a carrier. Prop bent to hell and splinters everywhere with a caption along the lines of the airplane was quickly repaired and back in the air same day.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
    N3368K likes this.
  39. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    11,830
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    weilke
    I thought this thread was about doing your primary training in a conventional gear aircraft, not about obtaining the endorsement later on.

    Cost is going to be related to insurance, and then of course there is the availability of a TW instructor. If a flight school has both, a insurance and a long-term instructor willing to do primary instruction in a conventional gear aicraft, then this would be the way to go if one is interested in flying a TW aircraft down the line.
    Knew a kid from rural ND whose goal in life was to be an aerial applicator. He bought a Champ on his 16th birthday. I think the first tricyle plane he ever flew was when he had to rent an Arrow to get his limited commercial. If you start your primary training in a TW aicraft, you are going to get to insurance minimums faster than with the detour through trycicle gear aircraft.
     
  40. DanWilkins

    DanWilkins Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2018
    Messages:
    206
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan
    Well said. Many grass fields were big squares with a wind sock in the middle. Pilots could always take off and land into the wind.