It’s official, Bill signed off my tailwheel endorsement! It’s a good feeling and I know I’ve made tons of progress in this 10.8 hours of flying. I feel confident in my ability to go out and keep learning. Despite asking around and doing some digging, I haven’t found many tailwheel airplanes available for rental. I know of only one so far and it’s over an hour away. Fortunately it’s at the same airport as the glider club so I can combine drives up there.The last couple of hours I’ve spent flying from the back seat. It feels and looks different so it took some getting used to, and represented a spike in my workload, but I like it! Not only does it feel more like the command center (the front cockpit has just the main instruments, the radios and most engine controls are back there so solo flight has to be from the back seat) but it seems more comfortable. The visibility is a little better since it’s further from the wings. And since it sits further out on the moment arm from the main gear, s-turns while taxiing aren’t as wide. It’s also smaller and cozier, with pads at each shoulder. Stick forces are the same but the brakes and rudder pedals are hinged slightly differently. The pressure difference is minimal; Bill pointed it out and I’m sure I would not have noticed it right away.
I have the endorsement but this isn’t the end of the story. I plan to take Bill’s Spin & Emergency Recovery course and also reward myself with a very brief intro to aerobatics. And while I’m anxious to go fly other taildraggers in the meantime, I know if I am lucky enough to end up with a Pitts of my own, I’ll be right back here with Bill to brush up before getting into it.
Here is video of a recent lesson. It’s typical of our tailwheel lessons: repetitive and boring to watch, especially with the heavy overcast conditions but still challenging for me to fly and helpful in my post-flight analysis. This was five of 19 landings I did that day. For non-pilot friends and family I’ve added some explanations in the video, I hope it helps make sense of what’s going on.