What Are Tailwheel Aircraft?

What Are Tailwheel Aircraft?
A taildragger is also known as a conventional landing gear, or tailwheel-type landing gear is an aircraft that has two main wheels forward of the center of gravity and a wheel or skid attached to the tail. Both the Cessna Skywagon 180 and 185 are conventional geared aircraft.

Skywagon TaildraggerThe Skywagon operates on the ground using a steerable tail when taxiing. A pilot can steer the plane by pressing the foot pedals that operate cables attach to the steerable tail wheel. If the pilot presses the left pedal the aircraft will turn to the left and if the pilot pushed the right pedal the aircraft will turn to the right.

Cessna SkywagonAnother way a Skywagon can maneuver on the ground is using the differential braking. The aircraft is steered by applying brakes to the main wheels. Brakes are applied by pushing on the top half of the pedals. To turn to the right, the pilot would press the brake on the right.

There are several important advantages for the Cessna Skywagon to have conventional landing gear.
– The landing gear is forward of the center of gravity which helps distribute the aircraft weight. Better weight distribution means the aircraft can operate better on rough ground without sustaining damage.
– The rough ground can damage a nose wheel.
– A nose wheel can add unnecessary weight to the aircraft.
– The propeller has more clearance on a tailwheel which makes the aircraft better for rough ground and less prone to stone chip damage.

Disadvantages of a tailwheel aircraft:
– Visibility during taxing is not good.
– Braking hard can result in the aircraft tipping forward.
– Conventional geared aircraft are susceptible to ground looping.
– They are more difficult to taxi during high winds