Plane & Pilot
Monday, September 1, 2008

With Six, You Get Aileron Roll

Join this six-pack of Cubbies on a low-and-slow cross-country jaunt, and hone up on your

with six"Uh oh,” crackles Rand Siegfried’s voice over the intercom. “There goes A.D.D. again.” He chuckles, “I think we’ll have to do something about that.” And just like that, the sky drops away and we’re in a brain-floating dive in pursuit of Bob Elliott’s Legend Cub.
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Danny Broussard, an energetic, amiable heavy-equipment contractor who gave his Legend Cub two names, after daughters Brooke and Brandy, puts it this way: “With crosswind landings, you’ve got to be on your toes and on top of your game. Put the wing down into the wind and hold opposite rudder to keep the tail straight. Now that’s real flyin’!”

Wranglin’ The Taildragger

Begin your taildragger training with some quality schools and instructors we know about.
• Andover Flight Academy
(973) 786-6554
Damian DelGaizo, with more than 10,000 hours of taildragger time, heads up this tailwheel school just 50 minutes from Manhattan. Home base is a lovely wooded valley in Andover, N.J. (See “Earning A Tailwheel Endorsement” from P&P February 2007 at our online home.)

• CP Aviation
(805) 525-2138
Based at Santa Paula Airport in Southern California, CP’s roster of flight instructors includes Rich Stowell, 2006 National CFI of the Year. The school teaches tailwheel skills, emergency-maneuver training and spin-recovery awareness.

(877) 359-3734
Doug Stewart, 2004 National CFI of the Year, considers tailwheel skills “the heart and soul of our training program.” Based in upstate New York at Columbia County Airport, near Hudson.

• Sunrise Aviation
(800) 717-4200
In the middle of Orange County, Calif., Sunrise offers tailwheel and aerobatic training. Citabria, Pitts, Decathlon and Extra 300 tailbirds offer a variety of ways to approach the skill.

• Tutima Academy Of Aviation Safety
(916) 517-2020
With the imprimatur of air show pilot and president Sean D. Tucker, the King City, Calif., school offers several programs to take you from first flight to whatever level of prowess you desire. Specialized training is offered in tailwheel instruction, aerobatics and formation flying. (See “Formation Flying Is Serious Business” from P&P May 2007.)
Do The Tail-Jerk
There’s weather ahead; we catch up to the storm somewhere near Bay Minette, Ala., and lay over for a day. A.D.D.’s Skittle-fogged eyes twinkle at the prospect of visiting nearby Pensacola Naval Air Museum, so we all fly on over to Pensacola’s Ferguson Airport, just beneath the gathering gloom for an afternoon in one of the better aviation museums in the country. Pat Bowers, another flying member of the Legend crew who fabricates sheet-metal parts, turns our thinking down the road. “Man, what we want is to get down the Gulf Coast,” he says in his Texas drawl. “We’ll fly down on the deck and you’ll see a real cool show, with sharks and manatees and naked people!”

The next morning, the clouds clear, and we’re off for the last leg to Lakeland. As we pick up speed for takeoff, I push the stick a little too aggressively. “Not too fast!” barks Siegfried. CFI Stewart knows this move all too well: “During takeoff, pilots sometimes wait way too long to pick up the tail...then they pick it up too fast. They accelerate past the point where they begin to have effective rudder control, then jerk the stick forward so quickly that it induces gyroscopic precession, which is a tendency to sharply yaw the airplane to the left.”

“It’s just like a spinning bicycle wheel,” says Stewart. “If you hold the axle up slightly to simulate the nose-high prop shaft angle on rollout, then move the axle quickly down, the wheel yaws to the left. In a taildragger, you transition rapidly from a three-wheel to a two-wheel stance, so the forces are stronger.”

So, when to raise the tail? “You feel it in the rudder,” Stewart advises, “when the pedal action stiffens up a bit and you start to have control. That’s the time to bring the nose forward...but smoothly.” One caveat: “Conversely, if you raise the tail too soon, before it’s flying and before you have rudder authority, then you won’t have full control and will be more vulnerable to crosswind.”

Once & Future Cub
Sailing 200 feet above the Florida Panhandle surf, following the sandy arc down to Lakeland, we rise and fall languidly, lazy butterflies joined by an invisible line. There’s no better flying than this. No stress, no constant ATC chatter, no tweaking every last knot out of the mixture.

Just seat-of-the-pants, windows-open, low-and-slow, classic Cub flying. We wave at sunbathers and swimmers on the beach. They wave happily back.

I think of the three days of good company and good cheer. Of chasin’ tails over the dark green tree farms; banking our way around one misty cloud bank after another; chasing our reflections across dead-tree-populated swamplands. How big and wonderful our land is. How diverse its people. How soothing and beautiful its countryside. And how grand indeed to take it all in with this miracle of Legend Cub flight.


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