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  1. Conventional landing gear
  2. Consent Form | Flying Magazine
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Jet aircraft generally cannot use conventional landing gear, as this orients the engines at a high angle, causing their jet blast to bounce off the ground and back into the air, preventing the elevators from functioning properly.

Conventional landing gear

This problem occurred with the third, or "V3" prototype of the German Messerschmitt Me jet fighter. A number of other experimental and prototype jet aircraft had conventional landing gear, including the first successful jet, the Heinkel He , and a single Vickers VC. Rare examples of jet-powered tailwheel aircraft that went into production and saw service include the British Supermarine Attacker naval fighter and the Soviet Yakovlev Yak Both first flew in and owed their configurations to being developments of earlier propeller powered aircraft. The Attacker 's tailwheel configuration was a result of it using the Supermarine Spiteful 's wing, avoiding expensive design modification or retooling.

The Yak was based on the Yakovlev Yak-3 propeller fighter. Its engine was mounted under the forward fuselage. Despite its unusual configuration, the Yak was easy to fly. Although a fighter, it was mainly used to prepare Soviet pilots for flying more advanced jet fighters. A variation of the taildragger layout is the monowheel landing gear.


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To minimize drag, many modern gliders have a single wheel, retractable or fixed, centered under the fuselage, which is referred to as monowheel gear or monowheel landing gear. Monowheel gear is also used on some powered aircraft, where drag reduction is a priority, such as the Europa XS.

Both monowheel gliders and monowheel power aircraft use retractable wingtip legs with small castor wheels attached to prevent the wingtips from striking the ground. A monowheel aircraft may have a tailwheel like the Europa or a nosewheel like the illustrated Schleicher glider. Taildragger aircraft require more training time for student pilots to master.

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This was a large factor in the s switch by most manufacturers to nosewheel-equipped trainers, and for many years nosewheel aircraft have been more popular than taildraggers. Cessna or Piper Cherokee and only later transition to taildraggers. Landing a conventional geared aircraft can be accomplished in two ways.

Ground School: Tailwheel Takeoff - How to fly a Taildragger

Normal landings are done by touching all three wheels down at the same time in a three-point landing. This method does allow the shortest landing distance but can be difficult to carry out in crosswinds, [6] as rudder control may be reduced severely before the tailwheel can become effective. The alternative is the wheel landing. This requires the pilot to land the aircraft on the mainwheels while maintaining the tailwheel in the air with elevator to keep the angle of attack low.

Once the aircraft has slowed to a speed that can ensure control will not be lost, but above the speed at which rudder effectiveness is lost, then the tailwheel is lowered to the ground. The FARs do not prohibit landing on taxiways. In a strong crosswind, landing on a taxiway into the wind—with appropriate precautions for traffic—may be safer than trying to land on a runway. That includes flap settings for takeoff and landing and crosswind technique.

For example, the Aviat Husky AFM calls for all crosswind landings to be made with full flaps and to touch down tailwheel first, no wheel landings in crosswinds.


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Visibility: Discuss the expected visibility over the nose, where to look for visual cues, and the considerations for taxiing, takeoff, and landing. For some airplanes, this means a curving approach or an approach in a forward slip, with virtually no wings-level time on final. Discussion of visibility or lack of it in flight, and what to do about it, is appropriate for a number of types of airplanes. Taxi: Introduce the concept of absolute intolerance for heading deviation and excursion during taxi; the student should not allow drift from the direction the student desires the airplane to go.

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On a very basic level, the student must always have a firm idea of where he or she wants the airplane to go a huge proportion do not , not some foggy notion that this taxi exercise will terminate with the airplane on the runup pad; the student must decide the precise route to be taken and where the airplane will be pointed all of the time, including during S-turns for visibility. Discuss the stick position when taxiing.

Generally, it is all the way aft with appropriate aileron deflection. If taxiing downwind with a wind of over about 15 knots, the stick may be pushed forward to the neutral position, as, no matter which way the wind is flowing over the elevators, it is not going to cause the tail to come up. This may be airplane specific. Encourage minimal use of brakes due to a number of considerations, including the difficulty applying them when needed heel brakes , lack of reliability older airplanes , and concern with nosing over.

Takeoff-roll discussion: Pinning the tailwheel down helps directional control, and directional control will become more challenging as the tail comes up. Also remind the student of the effect of p-factor; and how the expected gyroscopic effect of the tail coming up turning the airplane left will magnify the need for rudder to overcome the loss of directional control that had been provided by the rolling tailwheel.

Depending on the airplane, it may or may not be stalled at touch down, but it will be near the stall and touchdown will be at minimal speed and energy. If the airplane starts to hop or bound, make sure the stick is held full aft to stop it. If the airplane has flaps, all should be used, as the desire is to touch down with minimum energy.

Even in a stiff crosswind, there should be more than enough control authority to keep it straight during flare and touchdown with full flaps. Because directional control is more challenging once on the ground than it was in the air, minimum speed at touchdown will help keep things under control during the rollout. Crosswind-control discussion: Emphasize that the elevator and aileron controls will be moved to their limits in any crosswind landing something few nosewheel pilots have done or are comfortable with ; the elevator gets to that position prior to touchdown if three-point , and ailerons get to their limit at or shortly after touchdown.

Touching down on the tailwheel and one main gear in a crosswind is normal and will not result in loss of control, it just looks strange when demonstrated using a model airplane during a discussion. Then, both controls are held at those travel limits through rollout: The stick will stay fully aft, with the ailerons either neutral or at travel limit for wind correction, while taxiing. One way to recover from a swerve is to apply full power to get the maximum rudder effectiveness and simply take off, rather than risk further loss of control during the rollout.

Fuel system: Discuss the fuel drains and the effect of the nose-up attitude while parked on the fuel system, and on the ability to identify and remove contamination from the system as well as on quantity indication.

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On some specific types, there are fuel tanks that will drain fuel into other fuel tanks while in three-point attitude, so it may be necessary to shut off some fuel selectors on the ground e. Demonstrate inspection of the tailwheel, its springs and cables, and the connection to the rudder if any. Have the student experiment with the steering, making wide-radius turns and tight turns, to determine what can be done without the brakes and what requires them. Let the student sort out the position of the brakes, especially heel brakes, and let the student see what is involved with starting and stopping turns and dealing with increasingly dramatic swerves.

Takeoff: Directional control — teach the student to use all available visual cues; if there is good visibility over the nose, select a point well beyond the far end of the runway for a directional reference. Require the student to allow no nose deviation from desired direction; notice effectiveness of tailwheel and rudder during acceleration, the effect of raising the tail, balancing the aircraft on the mains for optimum acceleration, and breaking ground and establishing climb at the appropriate airspeed plus or minus 5 knots. Steep turns and turns with rapid roll-in and roll-out are used to get the feel for the responsiveness of the controls and appropriate rudder coordination at differing speeds and roll rates.

Expect to take a while to learn rudder-aileron coordination in airplanes with high adverse aileron yaw. Slow flight: The student needs to become as comfortable as possible flying the airplane precisely at not more than five knots above stall speed for the particular configuration; use gentle turns and coordinated rudder.

Push for altitude plus or minus feet and airspeed plus or minus five knots. Some older airplanes may exhibit aileron reversal near stall speed, which necessitates that roll and yaw corrections be performed with the rudders. Many low-powered airplanes require a greater amount of nose-down pitch-change to recover from the stall than the student is used to in higher-powered airplanes, due to the difficulty of accelerating away from the high-drag condition of the stall. Three-point landings to a full stop if appropriate for the airplane : The goal is to fly the approach speed plus or minus 5 knots, aircraft aligned with the runway at touchdown unless the aircraft has crosswind gear , and no drift; roll out to a stop with the student using available visual cues for directional control and assertively taking corrective action any time the airplane is not headed in the desired direction; encourage minimal braking initially, so the student can experience the changes in control authority during deceleration.

Then teach heavy brake use, as appropriate for the airplane, so the student knows where to draw the line if there is a risk of nosing over. Crosswinds: Introduce crosswind landings after several successful landings into the wind, in which the student demonstrates touchdown at minimum speed and good directional control on rollout. Satisfactory completion of Lesson 1 occurs when the student holds selected altitudes within plus or minus feet, headings within 10 degrees, and airspeed within five knots of target.

On takeoff and landing, the main gear remain straddling the runway centerline, which is, of course, a judgment call on grass. Full aileron-deflection into the wind is smoothly and appropriately applied at or shortly after the upwind main landing gear touches the ground. Again, depending on the type of airplane, the tailwheel may touch down first, or the tailwheel and one main or both if no crosswind will touch down simultaneously. The main gear does not touch down prior to the tailwheel. The student must also demonstrate appropriate aileron use any time the airplane is on the ground; until that is consistently demonstrated to the point it becomes second nature, the lesson is not complete.

The student recovers from a bounced landing smoothly and uses appropriate judgment as to when to go around, either prior to or after touchdown. While this may sound inconsistent with a go-around during the landing rollout, it is because the matter is a judgment call and should, therefore, be discussed prior to flight. Discussion of wheel landings: The approach is flown at the same speed as a full stall landing, no faster. This must be fully understood. While there are advanced techniques for wheel landings that are airplane-specific such as holding a constant pitch-attitude and using power to regulate the entire landing, including flare, and then using brakes immediately on touchdown , the general approach is fly a normal approach with a little extra nose down trim, close the throttle prior to or during flare; then flare to a slightly tail-low touchdown.

As the mains touch, the back-pressure is relaxed and the trim lowers the nose about a half a degree, which is all that is necessary to get the airplane to stay firmly on the ground. Directional control is critical: Brakes are not used for the initial training, and the tail is held up with forward pressure until the student makes the decision to lower it. Full flaps are normally used for all wheel landings, to take advantage of the reduced stall speed and drag; the idea is to touch down without excess energy.

Most tailwheel airplanes have such effective aerodynamic controls that a high-energy touchdown is simply not needed and adds to the risk during the rollout. In a crosswind, the upwind main touches down well before the downwind main, and full aileron travel is reached, and held, prior to touchdown of the downwind main. Two bounces should be considered the limit—after that the risk of PIO and a prop strike, or worse, goes up radically. If there is any question of directional control or if there are any pitch oscillations after a bounce, a go-around should be performed.