Landing Tailwheel Airplanes

Last Updated 26 September 2015

I’ve been a pilot for over a decade flying a variety of wheeled and float planes but my favorite by far are tailwheel airplanes. At some point, all pilots should fly a Piper Cub or Super Cub - that’s where I learned stick and rudder skills after earning my private in a C172, and I learned more about flying in my first 10 hours than in my private training.

I now fly a Cessna 180/185 almost exclusively, with plenty of cross-country time and short field landings. The MAF landing technique, wheel landings most of the time, seems to be the way to land these planes. There are too many pilots scared of wheel landings, and missing out on fine control during the landing phase.

Essentially, slow down to established a stabilized approach at 500fpm descent rate (12-14 inches manifold pressure, 70kts on final), cross the threshold at 65 (Vx for my airplane), pull back on the yoke to arrest the descent to 200fpm, the forward pressure to maintain wheel landing attitude. I’ve used the technique on short dirt strips with full brakes prior to the tailwheel touching with no issues.

Please don’t read this and go try anything without a competent instructor. If you need some recommendations, feel free to email me.

Here is a Go Pro video of the technique into the Seattle area in the evening.

Cessna 180 Landing at Dusk in Seattle from Andrew Cull on Vimeo.

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