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13 Reasons You Should Learn To Fly A Tailwheel

It's fun, and it gives you bragging rights over your pilot friends. Here are 13 reasons why you should start learning to fly a tailwheel this weekend.

1) You learn how to use the right rudder

Left-turning tendencies are amplified in tailwheels. As you start rolling down the runway, p-factor is trying to turn you off the pavement and into the grass. And when you bring your tail up, gyroscopic precession does the same. Oh yeah, torque and spiraling slipstream are still doing their thing as well. But once you get the hang of it, that rudder pedal becomes second nature...


2) You learn what a ground loop is, and how to avoid it

Your airplane's CG is behind your main landing gear, which means you need to keep it between your mains if you want to keep going straight down the runway. It's not something you should be afraid of, but it is something you need to constantly respect.

Max Remtz

3) Crosswind landings take on a whole new meaning

You need to fly a tailwheel airplane all the way to the ramp on windy days, but nothing requires quite as much attention as a crosswind landing. When you land, your wing is at a high angle of attack, your tail wheel doesn't have the same authority as a nose wheel, and again, your CG is behind the mains...

Aleksander Markin

4) Three point landings

If there was a 'normal landing' in tailwheels, this would be it. You learn to touch all three wheels down at the same time - something your instructor wouldn't be too excited about if you were in a tricycle gear plane.

Josep Tomas

5) Wheel landings

When the winds are high or gusty, touching down on one or both of the mains first is the goal. By landing faster, you have more control on touchdown, and your wing is at a lower AOA. It's not as easy as the three point, but it's fun to learn.

Aleksander Markin

6) You can land on rough airstrips

Try doing this in a Cessna 172.

B Mully

7) You'll learn to use smooth power application

If you want to keep it on the centerline, you can't jam the throttle (not that you should in any plane). By smoothly applying and removing power, you'll keep the centerline straddled with your mains the whole trip down the runway.

Bjoern Schwarz

8) Crosswind control during taxi

It's easy to forget about crosswind control in a tricycle gear plane, but forget to add it in a tailwheel, and you'll be pointing the wrong direction on the ground.

Kate Bernard

9) You learn to start AND stop turns on the ground

That CG behind the main gear is back to remind you that you need to start AND stop your turns on the ground. If you forget to use your rudder and brakes to stop the turn, you'll keep turning, and turning, and...well, you get the point.

Jack Snell

10) You master slips to a landing

Lots of tailwheel planes don't have flaps, which means you need to master slips as one of your tactics for slowing down and getting down in the pattern.


11) It opens up the world of aerobatics to you

Most aerobatic planes are tailwheels, and doesn't this look like fun?

Chad Horwedel

12) If you don't, you're missing out on so many great airplanes

Some of the most unique planes in the world are tailwheels. Get your endorsement, and you get to fly these.

Chad Horwedel

13) You'll become a better pilot

Getting your tailwheel endorsement is one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do as a pilot. And, most pilots can get their endorsement in 5-10 hours. So, what are YOU doing this weekend?

Jeremy Zawodny

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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