How do I take off a tail dragger? - RC Groups
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Jan 09, 2006, 10:53 AM
fly less

How do I take off a tail dragger?

I have been flying electric planes for a while and none of them have had landing gear. I now have a cub type airplane and can't keep it going straight on a take off run. The tail wheel looks in alignment with the rudder. I have read that to counter engine torque, right rudder is required, but my plane usually spins out to the right after I get going nearly flying speed. Is it possible that I need more rudder throw?
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Jan 09, 2006, 11:03 AM
S.A.D. member
ivanc's Avatar
Cub are well known for ground looping. You've chosen the worst plane to be your first one with a LG.
Jan 09, 2006, 11:24 AM
3 cylinders or more...
Radial power's Avatar
I have a Cub as my first (and for now only) plane. My first takeoffs were... well everything but straight . You are right about the right rudder, but, speaking more generally, if your plane starts turning toward one side, apply a little bit of opposite rudder (not too much, be careful!).
However I've found that a thing that helps A LOT during first takeoffs is using little throttle and a long takeoff run, particularly if you have a powerful engine in your plane. Apply throttle VERY GENTLY, use the rudder to keep the plane straight and, if necessary, use the entire runway to get enough speed before takeoff. My Cub has a lot of engine, so I slowly increase the throttle to about 2/3 and, by that time I get there, I have enough speed to complete the takeoff.
Then, if you want, you can apply full throttle when the plane is already flying .

You may also have someone hold your model before takeoff and release it with the engine already throttled up, but that's cheating .

On the other side, I haven't yet managed to discover a good way to prevent the airplane from turning just after it has landed, as rudder has very little authority in that situation...
I need to fly more .

Jan 09, 2006, 11:48 AM
Registered User
mode1's Avatar
Check that both main wheels are spinning freely. Also, If you don't already have it, add toe-in. 50% Expo on rudder might help. If no expo, dual rates set to low for takeoff.
Jan 09, 2006, 11:56 AM
Registered User
As Mode1 says, toe in is extreemly important, check it carefully as, without it, you will be all over the place on most takeoffs. Expontial on the rudder will also help, large rudder movements also get you weaving all over the place.
Jan 09, 2006, 11:57 AM
Registered User
perttime's Avatar
My first plane with a landing gear is a GWS Formosa electric. It has a wide landing gear and the weight is distributed close to the ground, which may help (a lot?).

What I do is keep some up elevator, advance throttle gently, do whatever I need to do with the rudder. I try to keep the plane from jumping suddenly into the air, although I probably have the power to pull out of a situation...

Apparently the main wheels need to be aligned straight or with a slight toe-in.
Jan 09, 2006, 12:01 PM
S.A.D. member
ivanc's Avatar
In fact there are 2 different ways to overcome ground looping. The first is the one described by Radial - slowly accelerate until the plane tail lifts off the ground and the rudder is efficient enough. The second one (the one I use) is to take off from grass, hit the throttle to WOT and take off as soon as possible - before the plane ground loops. It works good when taking off from hard surface too (like an asphalf or concrete runway), but the grass helps in keeping the plane in place while the engine accelerates.
Jan 09, 2006, 02:09 PM
fly less
I thought I was increasing the throttle gradually. I will try the "Cheating" method of holding the plane until the engine is at full throttle. I will practise rolling gradually but it is frustrating to go to the field and not get to fly. So I am okay with cheating in the meantime.

I have taken off nose gear planes and haven't had trouble. I don't think my nose gear experience has helped me at all.

Thanks for the help everyone, especially ivanc. This isn't the first time I have received some good advice.
Jan 09, 2006, 03:47 PM
S.A.D. member
ivanc's Avatar
The "cheating" method is very popular with Quickie pylon racers. It doesn't count as cheating with them - it's the only way to get them in the air fast.
Jan 09, 2006, 08:45 PM
Registered User
ashdec87's Avatar
My Slow Stick has the same problem if i punch the power on thing to do is to ramp the power up slowly and use the rudder to make any minor corrections..

That'll help with other taildraggers in the future.

Jan 09, 2006, 09:33 PM
I meant to do that
littlewing78's Avatar
i like the Toe In method. Just dont do too much or your plane will just bounce rather than roll.
Jan 10, 2006, 12:10 PM
fly less
I have some toe in but will put some more in.

Haven't had a chance to try the other tips yet.

Jan 10, 2006, 06:45 PM
crashdummy6's Avatar
I had an awful time trying to take off with my corsair. (First taildragger) You have received very good advise here. Toe in is a biggie. On trick I tried and helped a bunch was to take off with full LEFT rudder trim. What this did for me was to make me use the rudder stick to the right, always. It was just a matter of how much right I needed to input. Once I was in the pattern I could trim the rudder normally. The other thing to watch out for is getting to anxious and horsing it into the air before you have enough ground speed. I did it, I was so happy to be going straight, and I think I was still holding up elevator to make my tailwheel do the steering and forgot to release it as I gained speed, poof, torqued over or tip stalled at about 20. I was done. The slowly apply throttle works wonders as well. Very few surprises that way,
Jan 11, 2006, 10:04 AM
fly less
I am grateful for all the advice. Hopefully I am smart enough to learn from hearing about other flyers mistakes instead of making them myslef. I did roll gradually but once I was close to flying speed I pushed the throttle to full...Too anxious to get into the air.

It is snowing in Calgary today so it will be a while before I can try to take off again.
Jan 11, 2006, 10:29 AM
Registered User
perttime's Avatar
I do not know if you are allowed to stand on the runway at all sites but that is what I have been doing on take offs so far. That lets me see exactly which way the plane is tracking and I can start corrections early.

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