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Tail dragger takeoff

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Old 07-12-2005, 05:58 PM
  #1
Cambo
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Default Tail dragger takeoff

I have been flying on a tripod plane and recentaly got a tail dragger. I am wondering how you take off a tail dragger in comparison to a tripod landing gear. Is it like a real tail dragger plane where you put the stick foward first to lift he tail up and then pull back, or do you simply pull back on the stick. i would appreciate any tips before i try it.
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Old 07-12-2005, 06:51 PM
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Tall Paul
 
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Default RE: Tail dragger takeoff

The initial acceleration needs to be controlled by the tailwheel... with a gradual increase in power and maybe some up elevator to keep the tail on the ground... usually a long-nosed plane like a P-51 will need this.
When the plane has enough speed to raise the tail, that generally occurs automatically.. then the rudder has control authority.
If it doesn't then ease off the up elevator and it should.
Jamming on the power usually results in a ground-loop.
Once the plane is going in a straight line, it's easy to keep it that way.
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Old 07-12-2005, 07:13 PM
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Default RE: Tail dragger takeoff

You shouldn't have to push forward on the stick at all. Hold up elevator while you taxi, it "pins" the tail down and makes steering a little more positive. Whwn you line up for takeoff, release the elevator, and as you throttle up and begin your roll, be prepared to use your rudder to maintain your heading down the runway. Depending on what you're flying, the tail will come up on its own after you have some forward momentum, or when there's enough propwash over the tail.

If you have a plane with enough downthrust, the nose will tend to dip and you will need to "ride" the elevator to keep it from over-rotating and flipping over or just hitting the prop.

Once the tail breaks ground, you will need to be on the rudder, feeding in 'right' to counter P-factor and torque reaction, which tends to make the plane veer left. Crosswinds will make the plane weathervane, or turn into the wind, if the wind is strong enough.

Two trains of thought as far as I am concerned for takeoff:

1- nail the throttle, hold some 'up' elevator and get it off the ground quickly, to minimize how long you have to fool with keeping it straight until you have sufficient airspeed to fly. Downside to this is, when you suddenly go to full power is when the plane most wants to hang a left, and it's sudden, so you have to be ready, and practiced, for it, or you're likely to torque roll into the ground as you lift off, then you have the additional thing to think about, countering the roll with ailerons.

2- roll the throttle on gradually, feeding in rudder as needed to maintain heading, the tail will come up, and as you build speed, gently ease back on the elevator and the plane will fly itself off, your focus can remain on rudder input to keep it straight. Plus, if you start to veer to one side or the other, you can back out of the throttle and abort the takeoff.

I'm a big fan of #2. It takes some practice, but if you've got the basics down from flying tricycle gear, you'll get it pretty quick. Start practicing with slow takeoff rolls, see how your plane reacts to throttle and how much rudder you need, and as you get faster, you'll eventually take off without realizing it, and viola! you're flying.

BTW, all my planes are tail draggers, and my first one was a Cub
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Old 07-12-2005, 10:12 PM
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Default RE: Tail dragger takeoff

Thanks for the detailed replies, i hope my first tail dragger take off is a sucesful one
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Old 07-13-2005, 04:14 PM
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Default RE: Tail dragger takeoff

Try doing what full scale test pilots do-taxi tests first. Practice taxiing until the rudder controil feels natural, then make short runs down the runway at increasing speeds, getting a feel for the plane and the control inputs it needs, until you feel confident enough to take off.
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Old 07-14-2005, 12:36 PM
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Default RE: Tail dragger takeoff

It makes a difference whether you are flying off grass, or a paved runway.

On good short grass, or a paved runway, hold the tail down with UP elevator & accelerate gently & smoothly, steering with the rudder to keep it tracking straight (be gentle with rudder inputs -- will take a little practice). As speed rises, ease off the up elevator smoothly & the tail will rise by itself (be ready to ease a bit of UP back in if the nose dips) & continue steering with the rudder. When you are really rolling (take-off speed), gently ease back on the elevator & presto -- you are flying (stay on the rudder).

If you are flying off long grass, follow the above procedure, but in order to avoid a nose-over, you may actually need to hold in up elevator until the a/c leaves the ground. Upon breaking ground, immediately put the elevator to neutral, or maybe even a bit of down, to prevent a steep climb & subsequent stall.

Take-offs from grass are generally less squirrelly than take-offs from pavement.
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Old 07-15-2005, 12:15 PM
  #7
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Default RE: Tail dragger takeoff

Put a GYRO on the rudder servo; the type that you can turn on/off with TX; turn it on for take off and landing; it will track straight, no ground loops, works great, ignore eveyone who says your cheating or weak.
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Old 08-23-2005, 10:56 PM
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Default RE: Tail dragger takeoff

How true it is - grass vs. pavement. I learned on a Senior Telemaster on huge paved runway (inactive full-scale runway) and used no elevator until airborne. When I first went to a fly-in at a club with grass, I promptly flipped over. No damage, but embarrasing for a newbie at his first "away" fly-in. But remember - if you can take off and land a taildragger, you can take off and land just about anything!
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Old 08-25-2005, 02:14 PM
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Default RE: Tail dragger takeoff

All I can say is, make sure the tail is "flying" before you try to get the plane off the ground. To many people try to get the plane off the ground before it is ready to go. Cubs and Decathlons are a great example of this. The tail pops up, but the wing is not up to speed yet. This can result a a low level stall and crash. Make sure you get a good ground roll and the plane should fly itself off the ground. Landings are pretty easy, just land on you mains (slightly tail low).
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