• Taming A Taildraggin' Dragon Lady

Air Force type, Smooth they called him, said he wanted to fly our biplane. Asked how much taildragger time he had. "More than anyone else in the Air Force," says he.

The Air Force has taildraggers? Indeed they do. And they're a handful too.


  1. Tailspin Tom,
    The blog is great and the Dragon Lady post was a hoot! I've flown gliders and I think the only thing they have in common is the bicycle gear. Barry Schiff had a nice write up on flying the U-@ a few years ago. See it at:

  2. Between flying in the "Coffin Corner" of overspeed/stall and the constant game of trying to balance your fuel load, then the fun part is learning to control your airspeed and stall when you land. Oh, yea you have a guy telling you your final six feet of altitude flying down the runway in a souped up chevy!

  3. Well now! If you consider the U2 (tandem gear)a taildragger, then the 1800+ B 47s and 700+ B-52s are taildraggers and this my friends, constitutes more pilots than a handful!!!! Do the math!

  4. Ah, must be a USAF type, reading comprehension isn't your strong suit, eh? ;-)

    I wrote that the U2s are a handful, as in difficult to fly and land, not that there was only a handful of them.

    In any event, tandem gear does not a taildragger make, so I'll stick with my thesis.

  5. Well...the fellow who mentioned the B-47s and B-52s, didn't have to stall it to land it. The older U-2s had a speed bleed off of 1000 ft. for each knot so you didn't add a few for the wife and kids. No spoilers, and when it stalled it rolled. better be within 18 inches of the runway when it paid off and as the movie shows...you had better touchddown straight or you were going in the weeds! Been there . done that. and flew the B-52 as well. Nooooo comparison!!! Plus....when you had a good crosswind you scrubbed the opposite wing tip on the runway to hold it straight...or again into the weeds!

  6. I have recently begun flying my Europa XS "Monowheel," a tandem or bicycle configuration aircraft. It has provided numerous lessons in humility. Tandem gear aircraft are a handful because you don't have the benefit of differential braking for directional control. And you must set the tailwheel down first because if you set down on the main gear first you generally get a big bounce at a very slow airspeed (don't even think about saving it, go around). If you do manage to "wheel land" it on the main gear, you have just become a weathervane with very limited to no directional control. Guaranteed trip into the weeds. Once both wheels are on the ground you have the benefit of both rudder and tailwheel control which combine to be very effective at swinging the tail around making over-control (as demonstrated by those learning in the video) extremely easy. This resulting in those horizontal Pilot Induced Oscillations of increasing magnitude. I must admit that, after watching the video, I don't feel nearly as bad as I did after my first couple landing practice sessions in my own Little Dragon Lady. I have great respect for those pilots who have mastered landing U-2/TR-1.