Welcome to the 2nd Edition
The Tailwheel Conversion Handbook is a primary source of ground school information for pilots interested in learning to fly tailwheel aircraft in the Citabria 7ECA. Based on recent experiences providing ground briefings, check rides, and tailwheel conversion training, minor changes have been made throughout to improve the quality of this handbook.
In the United Kingdom, the United States, and a number of other countries pilots are required to have a tailwheel rating to fly as pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft with conventional landing gear. In Canada, there is no rating for acting as PIC of a tailwheel aircraft. However, to safely fly a tailwheel aircraft, pilots should learn the ground school material and receive training from a qualified flight instructor or commercial pilot before attempting solo flight in the aircraft.
Most aircraft today have a nose wheel (tricycle gear configuration) rather than a tail wheel (conventional gear configuration). The tricycle gear configuration does have certain advantages over conventional gear. With tricycle gear nose-over tendencies and ground looping hazards are greatly reduced. The visibility, when taxiing, is much better in a nose wheel aircraft and you have better maneuverability on the ground under windy conditions because of the negative angle of attack of the wings. It is easier and faster for a new flyer to learn to maneuver an aircraft with a nose wheel on the ground.
Of course tailwheel aircraft have advantages as well. While airborne there is less parasitic drag than a nose wheel aircraft because a tail wheel is smaller and not directly in the airflow. Additionally, a tail wheel tire is less expensive to purchase and maintain than a nose wheel. Tailwheel aircraft handle rough fields much better since the main gear takes the bulk of the load and the shock when rolling over bumps on the ground whereas with tricycle gear the nose wheel hits the bumps first. Tailwheels will easily absorb bumps that can damage a nose wheel. Most importantly, you will improve your flying skills and become a safer pilot by learning to fly tailwheel aircraft.
About the Author
David LeFrançois is the President and Operations Manager of the Beyond Blue Aerospace Corporation. David has been a licensed pilot since 1991 and holds a commercial pilot license to fly single and multi-engine aircraft (land and sea). He is an electro mechanical engineering technician, a computer scientist, a Professional Engineer, and holds several patents. David received a Master of Science degree in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota’s School of Aerospace Sciences and is a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, active in composite aircraft construction. David initially published The Tailwheel Conversion Handbook in 2016 and he is also the author of The Suborbital Pilot’s Ground School Manual.