Tailwheel, taildragger, conventional gear – no matter what you call them, tailwheel aircraft are simply fun. With roots dating back to the training aircraft of World War I, tailwheel airplanes allow a pilot to experience true “stick and rudder” flying as it was meant to be enjoyed.
Flying taildraggers is a great way to broaden your skillset while also opening a world of new aircraft to fly and places to fly into. During your training you’ll learn basic through advanced tailwheel flying techniques while exploring the Arkansas backcountry, operating out of many of the grass strips here in our backyard.
Earning your tailwheel endorsement is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences you can have as a pilot. Become a better pilot – start your tailwheel training today!
Our Tailwheel Aircraft
Summit operates two tailwheel aircraft in which pilots can train and rent. For more information on our tailwheel aircraft, visit our Fleet page.
Piper J-3 Cub
Step back into 1946 and experience the original WWII-era Piper Cub. It may be light on endurance, payload, and electronics, but it more than makes up for it with its classic looks and easy handling.
American Legend AL18 Super Legend Cub
If you prefer something more modern, jump into the Super Legend Cub. It’s all the fun of the Piper Cub with twice the performance, plus a built-in radio and a starter to eliminate the need for hand-propping.
What to Expect
The tailwheel endorsement is proficiency-based, meaning there is no minimum hour requirement to earn your endorsement. That said, most pilots require a minimum of 5-10 hours to become proficient and comfortable in the airplane.
Required training for the tailwheel endorsement per 14 CFR § 61.31 consists of:
Normal and crosswind takeoffs and landings
Your tailwheel training will cover additional items to enhance your skills:
Slow flight, power-on and power-off stalls, steep turns
Short field and soft field takeoffs and landings
Power-off 180-degree approaches and landings
Takeoffs and landings in crosswinds greater than 10 knots
Grass strip operations
Training typically begins with maneuvers in the practice area, followed by takeoffs and landings on grass to learn the basics. From there, you’ll start working on takeoffs and landings on pavement as well as the other additional items listed above. Once you and your instructor feel you are proficient, you will fly with a different tailwheel instructor to assess your skills and determine whether you are ready to begin operating the aircraft solo.
Upon completing the course satisfactorily, you’ll earn your tailwheel endorsement and be able to rent our tailwheel aircraft.
To supplement the ground portion of your tailwheel training, we recommend The Compleat Taildragger Pilot by Harvey S. Plourde.
This book includes all kinds of excellent information on flying tailwheel airplanes: types and characteristics of various kinds of tailwheel aircraft, aerodynamic concepts and properties, ground handling, normal and crosswind takeoff and landing techniques, balked landing recovery techniques, and much more.
The book can be purchased online, and it is also available in our shop at the Fieldhouse.
We strongly recommend having a comfortable headset with passive noise reduction. Headsets with electronic active noise reduction (ANR) such as the Bose A20s and Lightspeed Zulus may still work, but we have found that these ANR headsets typically do not work as well in open-cockpit airplanes with a lot of wind noise (i.e. both of our Cubs). Please make sure that your headset has a wind screen/cover on the microphone to ensure that wind noise does not interfere with radio and intercom communication.
Headsets such as the David Clark H10-13 series will work (available at the Fieldhouse), and many of our instructors and students are fans of in-ear headsets such as the QT Halo and Clarity Aloft headsets.