Taming Tail-draggers


Essay by Chief Instructor (CFI)


Why taildraggers are tricky and how to overcome it
What do I know about it? Well, I have spent a significant proportion of my professional flying
career teaching both experienced and novice pilots how to fly and handle tail-dragging aircraft.
This amounts to several thousand hours of tailwheel training alone, though who’s counting!
These aircraft include among them modern high performance aerobatic aircraft and a variety
of more vintage types from DH Tiger Moths, to Harvards. I can’t recall off the top of my head
exactly how many students I’ve worked with over the years, but it’s well over 200! Best of all,
they have all gone on to fly extensive tailwheel ops in a variety of types and to the best of my
knowledge, only 2 of them have crashed anything since!

Read the rest here -

Got in DCS Spit. Set realism to full / hard. Set axes. Took off. Flew circuit. Landed.

I don’t know what all the fuss is about :roflmao:

Hmmmm…we believe him :bootyshk:

I’ll say it here as well this is a MUST READ for all EAF prop pilots !

All I know is that I got off with no issues, though yesterday Topsy did point out that I was going to blow the Merlin as I had left RPM at 3,000.

Joking aside, it was not much different to the IX in BoX from my perspective.

Had you got the rudder assist turned on?

Perfectly possible - still not up to speed on all the menus. I had at least manual rudder (I know 'cos it was spiking a treat), but maybe it was also helping without my noticing. Set everything to ‘hard’ and ‘sim’ in the settings that I could see.

Will have another bash.

You could be a natural…or had a good teacher :wink:

The setting OD is talking about is under one of the tabs at the top, then click on the Spitfire. Assisted takeoff and rudder off the top of my head, the takeoff bit is on by default I think.

Following Mudspike’s tip, takeoff is not too bad and I’m starting to stay straight along the runway after takeoff, unlike Phil’s vid of us taking off that made Red smile.

Landing is where it all goes wobbly for me right now, but alot better in VR though. Dancing on the brakes helps me stop the wing drop

I had the RAF…and you :wink:

Except my nav, as I recall. Lake Balaton ring any bells? :roflmao:

Landing, I find getting the rudder trim perfectly centered, the speed right and backing off the power gently, a mighty help in staying straight on the runway. Plus we are not landing Seafires on carriers ie no need to stop the aircraft quickly. So only using the brakes at the latest possible moment was what I learned from Mudspike. I even tried only throttling back to 1,200 r.p.m. (taxy throttle) to keep authority on the rudder as long as possible. Most of the runways in DCS are excessively long and flat unlike Weshampnett in CloD !

I was embarrassed by our filmed take-off in SoW, with an unplanned early break left. I note than when the Spit is heavily loaded with bombs and drop tank, the elevator trim should be set to 0. I tested this the other day off-line and it helps to keep only concentrated on directional stability as she flies off very nicely with this setting.

In real life the Spit seems to get the tail up and lift off much earlier than in DCS. I use +7 boost max and note that even with this rather low boost setting after take-off I still need to bring the r.p.m. down from 3,000.
At the moment my throttle is calibrated for CloD, ie up to the gate is max “normal” rpm and going beyond the gate activates a switch for WEP which gives a further 10%.
I will try re-calibrating the throttle so that max rpm is only achieved at the quadrant ‘beyond gate’ limit and see what rpm I get when only going to the gate stop.


Play dogfightings to make them lose their bearings, ending on the deck and then ask the Trainee to get us home low level. “No ammo and in enemy territory, nav us home” - One of the lessons learnt from the online wars and it also really helps with bombing strikes. Classic was excellent at this and some of our SOW pilots got very good.

I bet I couldn’t even pass my own training now :roflmao:

Classic had excellent nav skills. Hope one day he can get back on the bike.

I have DCS ready to roll now if bed-time goes smoothly and I can suggest Netflicks to the other adult…

Turns out Assisted T/O was 100% so set it 0% and…took off first time with no issues.

Landing was ugly, though.