Come tame the taildragger with our team! Our 1952 Cessna 170B “Pearl” has helped pilots master directional control for nearly 70 years. Pearls greatest gift is providing instant feedback to pilots which helps accelerate the learning process.

Truth be told, tailwheel or conventional gear aircraft are really no different than their nose dragging modern brethren. The skills needed to safely operate both are the same. In reality the skills learned in either work nearly identically from Piper J-3s to big jets.

Tailwheel myths and FAQs:

How long does it take to earn a tailwheel endorsement? Are special skills required?

Anyone can learn to fly tailwheel aircraft! If you are current and proficient in single engine piston aircraft, and can fly stabilized approaches it may take as little as 20-30 landings. A typical student usually takes between 40-60 landings to be safe.

If the skills are the same, why do we need a specific endorsement for tailwheel aircraft?

The only difference between conventional gear and nose wheel, is in relation to the main landing gear, not the nose or tailwheel. It’s the location of the Center of Gravity with respect to the main wheels that effects the ground handling of both. Once in the air they behave exactly the same.

Why does the Center of Gravity placement matter?

Two reasons:

  1. Touchdown- At the moment the main wheels touch, they become a pivot point around which the aircraft rotates. With the CG forward of the main gear the pivot is nose down, which reduces Angle of Attack and tends to keep the aircraft on the ground. In conventional gear aircraft the pivot is nose up and tends to increase AOA possibly leading to the aircraft becoming airborne near the stall speed. This then frequently leads to proposing and eventual loss of control.  In more than 10 years teaching in tailwheels, it is the bounce more than anything else that requires the most training.
  2. When the CG is forward of the main landing gear (nose gear aircraft) it provides added directional stability which tends to keep the aircraft rolling in a straight line. However that line might be pointed toward the grass so use of the rudder is still required! In tailwheel aircraft the CG is behind the main landing gear. Once the aircraft is slow enough on the ground that the vertical stabilizer no longer provides enough positive stability to keep the aircraft rolling in a straight line, the CG location becomes the dominant destabilizing force. Just as in a nose gear aircraft it requires rudder to keep straight.