I FINALLY found a tailwheel instructor. They’re few and far between these days. And even better, he teaches in a J-3 Piper Cub! I’ve always wanted to fly one of those.
This was a very different animal than the nosewheel planes I’m used to. I was in the front seat, which is set quite far forward and is not adjustable. I’m not a big guy, and I found it cramped. My knees were up near my chest. Felt like I was sitting in a go-cart.
It was very disconcerting to not be able to see where I was going while on the ground. I knew about doing S-turns while taxiing, but I kept getting this fear that I might chew up some unseen plane/person on the taxiway with the prop.
Takeoff’s are amazing in one of these things! There was a pretty good headwind, and bystanders later told me we came unstuck at under 200 feet. It flies like any other plane, I guess. But landing it is something else entirely.
That first touchdown was the most “exciting” I’ve experienced since I first had an instructor shut down the left engine in a twin. We did a few full stall landings, then some wheel landings. The instructor claimed to not be touching the controls and said I was doing well, but for a lot of the time I felt like a passenger. At one point I remarked to him, “It’s amazing that a plane this slow can get ahead of you so fast.”
It felt like I was all over the runway. When I finally did execute a nice full stall landing I had about two seconds to feel good about it. Then a gust started picking up the right wing and the plane began to ground loop. The instructor did something with the stick and brakes to check it. I had no idea what to do.
Can’t wait to do some more of this. I’m a CFI myself, and it’s good to go back to the beginning again so one doesn’t forget how new student pilots feel.
Any taildragger folks here that would care to share their experiences or advice?