Today, when we speak of a taildragger instructor we¿re speaking of someone who worships at a Krispy Kreme dispensary. There are too few CFIs available for taildragger checkouts, and even fewer tailwheel airplanes in which to check out. That¿s my casual conclusion after sampling a few of the flight schools in my area.
What a shame it is to see the decline of such a wonderful part of our aviation history and culture. Taildraggers are a link to an era when the seat of a pilot¿s pants was a valid flight instrument, and navigation involved actually looking outside to see the countryside.
Even at flight schools still in possession of a taildragger or two on the flightline, there is rarely more than one CFI (or two, tops) qualified to teach in them.
If you¿ve never set foot on the rudder pedals of a taildragger, there are a couple of reasons that you should consider doing so. First, flying a taildragger is its own brand of novelty. Taildraggers with tandem seating offer the same percentage of right and left viewable area. This is the inside scoop for those who like looking outside. Throw in a stick and you¿re thrown back to an era where airplane control seemed more natural than artificial; more fun than work. They didn¿t call it a joystick for nothing. You might even be able to make a case that learning to fly a taildragger can enhance your piloting skills. Whether or not it can make you a better pilot is a question deserving of further exploration at another time and place. There¿s no doubt, however, that flying a taildragger will assist you in developing a greater appreciation for rudder control in all phases of flight.
By Rod Machado