taking off a tail dragger

hi I'm almost ready to fly my first tail-dragger, I've flown mostly trike geared planes. can anyone tell me in what position the elevator should be in during rollout to lift off ? This is a 1/4 scale cap 232. Thanks in advance mike

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Barring any unforeseen abnormality in the landing gear setup, one taxis the model by holding full up elevator when taxiing into the wind or crosswind. This keeps the tailwheel on the ground and provides you with control. Some models do just fine with the same technique taxiing downwind, some do not. It depends on the wind velocity and the particular model. You only need to hold enough elevator to keep the tail down on the ground. Experience will teach you how much.

While feeding in throttle gradually, release the up elevator you have been holding so that the elevator is neutralized in ten or so feet, taking care to apply a bit of right rudder in anticipation of a swerving left turn that will be induced by the rolling moment of the propeller. How fast you advance the throttle greatly affects the amount of swerve you will notice.

If the balance point and incidences are where they should be, the model will eventually rise into the air, or you can apply a slight amount of up elevator to accomplish the feat. Once the aircraft is airborne, be sure to release whatever residual right rudder you have been holding.

Each model has its own particular needs in order to accomplish the perfect takeoff, but getting safely off the ground really isn't that difficult. Good luck and good flying.

Ed Cregger

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Ed Cregger

Totally agree with Ed's comments. My 1/4 scale Tiger Moth will nose over if I try to throttle up without holding some up elevator. Slowly release up as the speed builds up. With the correct trim, the model will lift of on its own as the speed increases.

I have cheated and fitted a Gyro to the rudder. Gives me super straight takeoffs.


Tom Watson Sydney Australia

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You should start out with enough up elevator to keep the tail down for the first few feet. This allows you to steer the plane with the tail wheel until you get enough speed for the rudder to become effective. Then, ease the elevator back to neutral and let the tail come up. Once you reach flying speed, ease the elevator up again and take off!

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Paul McIntosh

This method will work but there are a couple of other issues you need to be aware of and think about before you try the first take off. Most conventional (taildragger) beginners make on very serious and frequently terminal error during that first takeoff attempt. That is insisting on total directional control in the wrong manner.

As you bring the throttle up the plane will tend to veer off to one side (or the other if there is a cross wind). Most beginners over correct and the problem gets worse in the other direction and another correction is put in and it gets worse again. This cycle is very frequently repeated until the plane gets just enough airspeed to lift off and snap back into the ground.

For your first take off, get authorization from everyone else to stand behind your plane so you can see what is happening and take the proper actions. The next step is to understand and accept that you may not have the skills to correct a deviation so that means you must have a plan. Here is what you should use as it will work and help you get comfortable with conventional geared birds. It is what I teach and use - I have set a 'standard' with a particularly nimble plane that many in my club don't fly because it is difficult on take off.

The very first part plan is the most important and it is that you will chop the throttle whenever the plane is clearly reaching the boundaries of safety. The second part of the plan is that all you will do during the takeoff run is to stop a deviation rather than correct it back to the runway centerline. The following list is what will happen if you do otherwise before you have learned all the 'tricks' of taildraggers.

  1. When you do correct it back the plane is slow and the control limited so the correction input is huge (relatively). This is a function of airspeed.
  2. It becomes a problem because by the time the bird gets back to the centerline, it is going further because the airspeed while not enough to fly is still more than it was when the initial correction was put in and you have to put in an opposite correction which will take less input than the original correction took.
  3. Go back to sentence #1 until the plane breaks ground with the rudder at one limit or the other which causes a low level snap.

Please read this several times to understand and internalize it before you put your plane at risk.

Good luck,

-- Jim Branaum AMA 1428

Six_O'clock_High Target snipped-for-privacy@Guns.com

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Mike, all of the above is true but if you hammer the throttle none of it works. Apply the throttle very gradually so the plane won't get ahead of your reactions and pay particular attention to steer (force) the plane to keep a straight takeoff run. I fly all taildraggers and with the characteristics of each one somewhat different, the key is to be very smooth and aware of small deviations from the center line of the runway before they get big. Have fun!

Phil AMA609

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As soon as the airplane is starting takeoff, leggo of the elevator completely! Only hold the tail down while taxiing. Once it is pointed down the runway all you need to do is to advance the throttle and tweak some right rudder.

Again- do not use the elevator! The plane will lift off on it's own when the airspeed is right.

The more scale the plane, the more you must follow this.


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Don`t forget to practice practice practice. It also don`t hurt to sing the Taildragons favorite song as you take off, OH I got a Tiger by the tail it`s plane to see, and there won`t be much left when he`s through with me:) rick markel

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This depends on how high and thick the grass is at my field. Sometimes a bit of up is necessary to break free of the grass.

Ed Cregger

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Ed Cregger

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jim breeeyar

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