Private Pilot Resources - Aviation Blog

I obtained my private pilot license in 2006. This site is dedicated to capturing little gems of knowlege I collected during training. Periodically I add items I find during research so that others might benefit from them. Please review the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

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Location: San Jose, CA, United States

In 1999 a friend invited me to go flying and I was hooked. I live in the Bay Area about an hour south of San Francisco and fly out of Reid Hillview (KRHV). Please do get in touch and lets go fly!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tailwheel take-offs and landings

Saturday morning. Usually I just want to sleep in, yet today I couldn't wait to get out to the airport. Lesson number 2 in flying taildraggers. When I got there at 9:45 Dave was already waiting for me. We briefed our lesson and off we were. As we get in, Dave tells me that he didn't plan on having his hands on the controls. He sounded like he meant it. These were my takeoffs to learn from. Ok, this was going to be odd coming from tricyle gear aircraft. We taxi to runup, complete our checks and off we are. Next thing I know I'm on centerline pushing the throttle full open and we're rolling down the runway. Dave had given me some great advice that I'm sure I heard last weekend, but it just didn't compute until Dave but it into simple terms. Don't hold the rudder down too long, just dance on the rudder peddals, jab jab jab. As I started the roll that began to make sense. Veer right, left pedal jab jab jab right peddal jab, oh boy what a workout, but we're back on center line. Stick forward. Oh boy. Not what I'm used to rolling on the ground. Dave assured me that the prop won't hit the ground and indeed once we get horizontal with the tail having come up, the pressure kind of just keeps it there. Speed builds and we hit 60 (miles per hour that is). Another thing that strikes me as odd as I've always remembered my air speeds in knots. Now I don't hold the pressure on the stick forward any more and the pressure oddly reverses where I have to ever so slightly pull back on the stick as we gracefull lift off. Ahhhhh. Click click, things are starting to make new found sense. Not yet fully, but as Dave encourages me with excitement from the back ever more so with every takeoff. We get to pattern altitude. Abeam the numbers, carb heat on, power off, and we establish a glide at 70. We're flying a much tighter pattern than I'm used to when I was flying the 172 or Archer II. Base, I almost forget to crab into the slight wind up here. We turn to final, short final, it hits me, this is all going to be different. OK, Dave explained 3 point landing, we get down there and we float, float and float. Humbling experience in speed control. We finally touch down and I pull the stick back a bit too fast, we balloon and Dave helps me bring it slowly back down. We finally touch on the mains and I gradually bring the stick back into my lap. This time successfully only to see us veer off to the left. Here we go again with the peddals. Jab, Jab, Jab, back on center line. Aha effect. Now I get this whole jab the peddal thing. Just in time to push both throttle and carb heat forward, push the stick forward again, feel the tail come up, check air speed and gradually apply backward pressure on the stick to rotate again. It takes 3 more tries until I start to feel confident in this sequence. All of a sudden, there it was. That very nice, barley feel the wheels touch down landing that we dream of when we envision it in our minds eye late at night over a nice glass of Cabernet. I hear Dave holler attaboy in the back. Nothing like an instructor that can get excited with you and for you. We do three more rodeos in the pattern and I get a sense that sometimes these planes want a soft touch and sometimes they like a determined hand. Hmmmm, now I get that whole plane naming convention. As we roll off the runway I'm grateful I have ears or I'd be smiling circular. We only clocked 0.9 on the meter, but I couldn't be more excited. These planes require attention, but they are a joy to fly. After all, part of my goal signing up for taildragger lessons was to become a better pilot. I'm definitely focusing on feeling the plane, relying on outside references and flying by the seat of my pants. I'm actually relaxed and enjoying the experience. We should all be so luck to have a guy like Dave introduce us to these fantastic flying machines.


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