"TAIL WHEEL FLYING"

  Is flying a Tail Wheel airplane really any harder than a "Nose Wheel" type airplane? Not really! There is no difference in how you fly
a nose wheel or tail wheel airplane.  The big difference between the two types is the Tail Wheel airplane will not tolerate sloppy,
improper use of the flight controls while in contact with the ground! In the air is a different story. They are the same in the air because
the landing gear is no factor while the airplane is the air except for the drag of the landing gear. Generally a Tail Wheel type is a little
cleaner when it comes to drag.
  The Nose wheel type airplane will tolerate much more sloppy flying upon contact with the runway and let you get by with a lot more
improper use or lack of use of the flight controls (such as the RUDDER & AILERONS) due to the configuration of the landing gear
and its relationship to the center of gravity. But know this: nose wheel airplanes can and do "Ground Loop" for all the same reasons
a "Tail Wheel" airplane can! "Sorry, but it "ant" the landing gear that causes the bad landing or ground loop, it is the Pilot"!
So many times I have been approached by a Pilot and they say,"Johnny, I don't have any problems with flying but I need a little help
with my landings." Almost always the reason their landings aren't so good is because their Aileron and Rudder skills are very poor
along with Speed / Altitude control (Pitch / Power) and not using the trim system. Their "STICK & RUDDER " and feel for the airplane
or "SEAT OF THE PANTS" skills are deficient. High time or low time Pilot, makes no difference if you don't learn them properly in the
beginning you will probably never learn it on your own and it is really hard to over come bad habits later, but it can be done.
  My hardest job is trying to instruct a Pilot that has learned in a Nose Wheel type airplane or been taught the Wheel Landing as the
standard to fly a Tail Wheel type airplane. I have to teach them the correct use and coordination of the flight controls. Many have to
"Unlearn" many bad habits and incorrect control usage. I actually can take a beginner, someone that has never flown and solo them
with just a few more hours of training as I can transition a Nose Wheel Pilot to a Tail Wheel. Of course there are exceptions but
rarely.  I have taught many to fly in a Nose wheel and then later transitioned them to a Tail Wheel type and they have no problem.
Why? They had a good sound knowledge of how to use the flight controls and their coordination skills and feel for the airplane
("STICK & RUDDER & SEAT OF THE PANTS") were good because they learned them from the beginning.

You don't have to be a high time Pilot to be a good Pilot!

  Am I saying not to learn in a Nose wheel type airplane? Absolutely not! But if you are forced to (and I'm laughing) I hope your
instructor has and teaches good flight control use and coordination (STICK & RUDDER SKILLS).  I set the standard pretty high for
proficiency when it comes to the flight control usage, coordination and feeling what the airplane is doing (SEAT OF THE PANTS).
Why so high? Well the better your aileron / rudder coordination the better you will be able to align the body of the airplane with the
center line of the runway, which is a must for touch down and the same applies for correcting any drift prior to touch down. Any error
in drift or alignment at touch down is the beginning of difficulty in directional control which can lead to a ground loop.
  Are those skills just for Tail Wheel Flying? Of course not! Want to get an Instrument Rating or fly Aerobatics? The better your Pitch
/ Power & Aileron / Rudder coordination and use of Trim are the better and smoother your instrument flying will be. You can't fly IFR
if you can't fly VFR.  To fly via reference to instruments you are really just replacing what you can't see outside with instruments that
give you the same information as you get while looking outside. Attitude Indicator gives PITCH and BANK information for primary
control and the DG & Rate of Turn instruments give the turn picture and how much. The "Performance Instruments" (AIRSPEED,
VSI, & ALTIMETER) tell the same regardless.
  Aerobatics requires the Pilot to be very skilled, coordinated and smooth with the controls to get all the performance out of the
airplane, make straight lines, round arcs and dead on the point aileron Rolls. Get jerky and uncoordinated with the controls you will
just be putting on the speed brakes. "Feel"(Seat of the Pants") really becomes paramount in Aerobatics.
   Get the basics "Stick & Rudder & Seat of the Pants" skills first and foremost and then you will have a good foundation for any type
flying you may pursue, Tail Wheel, Aerobatics, Recreation or Professional.
   Getting the "Tail Wheel" endorsement is not just getting signed off to fly a tail wheel airplane. It's much more than that.  The tail
wheel airplane will bring out the worst and the best in a Pilot. If your skills are week or lacking you can't hide them in the tail wheel
airplane. But if you have good  skills and coordination they will certainly stand out without a word being said.
  Both types of airplanes fly the same. The landing gear on a Nose Wheel type airplane just makes a lot of corrections for bad
technique and poor "Stick and Rudder" skills where as the Tail Wheel airplane will exaggerate bad technique and poor "Stick and
Rudder"skills. Give it a try and see if your skills are up to the standard required  to fly a Tail Wheel airplane. If they aren't then give
some serious thought about how safe you really are and if you want to be a better Pilot or even better yet, an Aviator!

Remember, you want to become an "AVIATOR"!

Author: Johnny WhIte
Articles by Johnny White
276-614-0412   24648 OLD SOUTH WAY  ABINGDON, VA. 24211