Taildragger Pilot’s Code

Flying Tips and Advice from The Colonel!
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Colonel
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Never push a bad approach into a bad flare.
Never push a bad flare into a bad touchdown.
Never push a bad touchdown into a bad rollout.

If it doesn’t feel good, always throttle forward and go around. Safety is in the air. Go around, get set up again and get ahead of the aircraft.

Keep it straight, nothing else matters.

-- EDIT --

Ok, don't exceed Clmax below 500 feet. Remember that there is no such thing as a full stall landing. You better hope you never do one, because maintenance will have to do a heavy landing inspection.


Neil Peart didn’t need you to be his friend
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Colonel
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Your aircraft will touch down quite slowly so start out doing that. Three point landings will keep you ahead of the airplane, and with minimum energy. Great for short runways. After a while, try touching down tailwheel slightly first, then mains. Works great on all the little taildraggers - Maule, Pitts etc. Once the main comes down so does the AOA and you are done flying. None of that annoying skipping down the runway at excess speed.

As you get more experience you can tackle more crosswind and naturally approach faster in the gusts which leads nicely in a taildragger to a wing-low, one wheel landing. Stick over into the crosswind for maximum adverse yaw to keep you straight as you slow down and the rudder loses effectiveness and it wants to weathervane. Don't weathervane. Keep it straight. That's all you need to do.

The downwind main comes down as you slow down, then ever so slowly lower the tail to reduce gyroscopic pitch yaw coupling from that metal blade prop, and maintain directional control. There is no weight on the downwind main, so don't even think of using the silly little brakes, which will simply lock up and flat spot the tire.



Keep it straight. That's all that matters.

One of the bonuses of flying tailwheel is that unlike nosewheel, given adequate runway, you can approach at truly ridiculous speeds. Especially with a constant speed prop, Vne on final works out very well, at least in smooth air.

Image

I liked to end a solo airshow with a landing out of a surface loop, maybe 160 mph. I would not recommend that in a 172 but in a taildragger, the tail is up on the air to stick the mains on, and it looks nice in the rollout. A sagging, droopy tail looks sad.

There simply is no substitute for practice. All I really know for sure is that my landings got better after the first ten thousand. The more you do something, the slower it happens. This is really important and is not actually a relativistic effect. If stuff happens slow enough and your brain works fast enough, you can process with your frontal lobes instead of instincts which are often wrong.

This comes out weird when you try to write it down but it’s really important. Your brain is the most important component of an aircraft. All sorts of stuff can break but as long as your brain is working, it will be ok. The great ones always figure a way out.
Neil Peart didn’t need you to be his friend
Slick Goodlin
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Colonel wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2024 1:53 pm
There simply is no substitute for practice.
I agree, and I feel so rusty that I’ll expect to spend a lot of nice (and not so nice) days in the circuit this spring. Look out world!
Nark
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Very much agree.

Practice makes almost perfect.

I’m not afraid to say I’m a better tailwheel pilot after a few thousand landings. Still working to towards 10,000.
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Colonel
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One trick, if possible, is to get current on grass. Or gravel, or hell snow or ice. Much more forgiving.

Dry pavement grabs your tires and throws you sideways, when you land in a crab, which happens
when you get behind the aircraft on final and suddenly flare. The metal blade prop kicks the nose
right and you touch down in a crab, with an instant problem to solve.

Always always always touch down with no crab vs your direction of travel. If your gear is not bent,
the aircraft will roll down the runway by itself, no inputs required, like a broom balanced perfectly
vertically on your finger. Until a gust of wind, anyways.

They say that teaching something makes you better at it, and I will grudgingly admit that is the case.
Probably the most terrifying thing I have ever done in my life, is teaching people to land the Pitts.
Stuff happens so fast, and you have to give people as much rope as possible so they can learn ....



There's a guy here, Johnny, says he doesn't mind teaching people to land the Pitts. He lies like a rug.
Neil Peart didn’t need you to be his friend
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Colonel
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Location: Over The Runway

To paraphrase my distant cousin von Richthofen ... keep it straight. All else is bullshit.

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Neil Peart didn’t need you to be his friend
Squaretail
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Location: Group W Bench

There's a code?! I guess I've missed too many meetings.
The details of my life are quite inconsequential...
Slick Goodlin
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Squaretail wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2024 6:33 am
There's a code?! I guess I've missed too many meetings.
First rule of Flight Club…
David MacRay
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Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:16 am

Squaretail wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2024 6:33 am
There's a code?! I guess I've missed too many meetings.
We could buy a plane. So you would be able to attend again. I’m thinking a Husky perhaps…
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