Taxiing - Tailwheel Type Airplanes Taxiing - Tailwheel Type Airplanes

   An airplane with a tailwheel landing gear arrangement has a tendency to "weathervane" or turn into the wind while it is being taxied. This tendency is much greater than in airplanes equipped with nosewheels. The reason for this is explained in the chapter on Landing Approaches and Landings.

   The tendency of the tailwheel type airplane to weathervane is greatest while taxiing directly crosswind; consequently, directional control is somewhat difficult. Without brakes, it is almost impossible to keep the airplane from turning into any wind of considerable velocity since the airplane's rudder control capability may be inadequate to counteract the crosswind.

   In taxiing downwind the tendency to weathervane is increased, due to the tailwind decreasing the effectiveness of the flight controls. This requires a more positive use of the rudder and the brakes, particularly if the wind velocity is above that of a light breeze.

   Unless the field is soft, or very rough, it is best when taxiing downwind to hold the elevator control in neutral or slightly forward. Even on soft fields, the elevator should be raised only as much as is absolutely necessary to maintain a safe margin of control in case there is a tendency of the airplane to nose over.

   On most tailwheel type airplanes, directional control while taxiing is facilitated by the use of a steerable tailwheel which operates along with the rudder. The tailwheel steering mechanism remains engaged when the tailwheel is operated through an arc of 16 to 18 degrees each side of neutral and then automatically becomes full swiveling when turned to a greater angle. The airplane may thus be pivoted within its own length, if desired, yet is fully steerable for slight turns while taxiing forward. While taxiing, the steerable tailwheel should be used for making normal turns and the pilot's feet kept off the brake pedals to avoid unnecessary wear on the brakes.

   Since a tailwheel type airplane rests on the tailwheel as well as the main landing wheels, it assumes a nose high attitude when on the ground. In most cases this places the engine cowling high enough to restrict the pilot's vision of the area directly ahead of the airplane. Consequently, objects directly ahead of the airplane are difficult, if not impossible, to see. To observe and avoid colliding with any objects or hazardous surface conditions such as chuck holes or mire, the pilot should alternately turn the nose from one side to the other - that is zigzag, or make a series of short S-turns while taxiing forward. This must be done slowly, smoothly, positively, and cautiously.