Taildragger crosswind landings

GroundloopHere’s a video from one of my favourite YouTube contributors, ‘FlightChops‘. This particular video explains crosswind landings in a taildragger – including sequences of a Stearman ground looping and a nearly catastrophic lapse of concentration late in the ground roll (when most ground loops happen) in a Super Cub.

The commentary is excellent and quite candid – early warning! – there are some strong but very spontaneous expletives later on in the video, during a scary landing! Descriptions of ‘wheeler’ landings and the need to keep the upwind wing down during the landing roll, using only rudder to keep straight, are particularly useful. This is essential watching for novice taildragger pilots as well as a useful reminder for more experienced pilots.

‘FlightChops’ has an easy style and interesting array of videos – some of which you can access by clicking ‘Show More’ in the centre just under the main video window on YouTube. In particular, there’s one of what a particularly violent prop strike (during a seemingly straightforward taxiing manoeuvre) can do to an aeroplane. Click here to see: Propstrike.

Bush flying

Backcountry PilotA good website for bush flying information is Back Country Pilot. They have just released an article and YouTube video about planning and executing safe short field take-offs in rough country. Although the two aircraft they focus on are the Carbon Cub and a heavily-modified Maule – both astonishing aircraft when it comes to short take-offs – nevertheless, the lessons for all bush fliers are relevant. The good thing about the Foxbat is that the tail is already in the air, so need to lift it before take-off like a tailwheel aircraft.

I’m working on some short field take-off and landing videos specifically covering the Foxbat and these should be available later in the year.

Who needs a taildragger?

ImageFor extreme bush flying – and by this I mean river bed landings, rocky hill tops and so-on – there’s no substitute for a tail dragger with huge main wheels and a smaller one at the back. And a pilot with considerable skill and experience.

But for most types of bush and farm flying, a suitable tricycle gear aircraft will do the job just as well – and in some conditions better than – a typical tail dragger.

Specifically, let me introduce you to the Aeroprakt A22 Foxbat – a tricycle gear aircraft with a tail wheel.

The Foxbat is a 2-seat light sport aircraft – an LSA – which will take you into many places you just cannot go in a conventional tri-gear plane. And it is an aircraft that enables reasonably competent, medium time pilots to handle cross winds like no tail dragger possibly can.

For a start, it’s rugged and strong. As well as full fuel it will carry around 200 kilos of people and baggage.

The CofG is close to the main wheels, so you can lift the nose off the ground at standstill or very slow speeds – this lets you run the plane down a rough paddock on its main wheels, with the nose wheel and prop well clear of trouble in the form of ruts, stones and even small shrubs.

The Foxbat lifts off in around 75 metres, even fully loaded, so there’s no long ground roll to punish the landing gear.

And getting back on the ground is just as quick and easy. You land at about 35 knots and you can hold the nose wheel clear of the rough stuff down to walking pace. Even better – unlike a typical tail dragger – you have nose wheel steering if and when you need it. The Foxbat nose wheel is steered directly through the rudder pedals, not relying on differential brakes. And there’s always the tailwheel to help you protect the rear of the aircraft in extreme cases!

There are farm based Foxbats operating out of rough strips and paddocks all over Australia. A couple have over 5000 hours on them in these conditions and many over 2000 hours. All of which attests to the longevity and toughness of the aircraft.

Who needs a tail dragger? Not me!