Training Time on a Taildragger?

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Vsquared
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Training Time on a Taildragger?

Post by Vsquared »

Hey guys and gals,

Took a quick search but didn't find a whole lot on this subject.
I recently completed my PPL and am now working on my CPL with a training institute in central AB.

My dream is to become a bush pilot after building my time to 500. I'm aware that nobody is going to hire anyone without taildragger experience, which leads me to wondering what my best option may be to get some experience on one ?

My school doesn't have any, and the only one i can find that does is pretty far away from me, and the rates are a little steep.
Anyone been in this situation ? Should I be trying to network and asking to fly someones private plane for a decent price ? Are people willing to lend a plane like that ?

My apologies for my ignorance and lack of knowledge towards this.
Any advice is greatly appreciated !
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TailwheelPilot
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Re: Training Time on a Taildragger?

Post by TailwheelPilot »

Lots of bush operations will hire you with no tailwheel time - simply because tailwheel aircraft are becoming fewer and fewer in commercial operations. Tailwheel experience is harder to find (as you have realized) so in many cases it is easier/simpler for an operator to change to a tricycle gear type. Especially for lower experience positions. Lots of 185s have been replaced by 206s, Otters replaced by Caravans or Twin Otters. Fewer float operators operate year-round, so no or limited wheel and/or ski flying with most of them in the winter.

In the little patches of the bush industry I have been involved with, one area primarily used Twin Otters and the other tended towards Cessna 206s and 208s. There was the odd Turbo Otter, 185, etc that was operated on wheels or skis, but they did not do nearly as much flying compared to the other types.

As you have found, tailwheel training is not exactly common so having some experience can be an asset to those operators who still have a tailwheel plane or two. You will find almost all commercial operators in Canada want 50 hours tailwheel (at least for new hires, perhaps less for some internal upgrades) 'for insurance' so ideally you could do 50 hours tailwheel. Two former co-workers rented private tailwheel planes - one through a chance meeting, the other having grown up around the aviation industry - so it is possible. Otherwise perhaps see if any of the FTUs with tailwheel planes (Harv's has three Citabrias, I think) would rent them to you for a week of cross country flying to build time for your CPL after a week or so to get checked out and comfortable in it. The other option is to buy a tailwheel plane.
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PilotDAR
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Re: Training Time on a Taildragger?

Post by PilotDAR »

would rent them to you for a week of cross country flying to build time for your CPL after a week or so to get checked out and comfortable in it.
If you're going to seek out and rent a tailwheel plane, excellent! Fly circuits rather than cross country. If you're paying for the type, exploit the unique characteristic you're paying for by flying lots of circuits, rather than multi hour legs with a landing at the end.

It's true that there are fewer available for rent. A part of the reason is a decline in the availability of instructors to teach tailwheel. It's becoming a skill more likely learned by mentoring, rather that formal instruction. Pay attention to opportunities which you may find with private owners though understand that in most cases, their planes would not be insured for you to fly as PIC. Your very best path is to buy a modest taildragger, and fly the heck out of it.
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youhavecontrol
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Re: Training Time on a Taildragger?

Post by youhavecontrol »

Prairie College in Three Hills Alberta offers tailwheel training. You can contact them and see if they can work something out. It's a Christian flight college, but I know they've done training for outsiders looking for tailwheel or aerobatic experience in the past. Their instructors are mostly mission aviation pilots with thousands of hours of flight time worldwide... some of the most experienced bush pilots you'll ever meet.

https://prairie.edu/aviation/
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TailwheelPilot
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Re: Training Time on a Taildragger?

Post by TailwheelPilot »

Prairie College sounds like a good option if they are willing to do some training on the side, their Citabria is $5 less than their 172 per hour (plus instructor at $60/65/hour). They may take you into the mountains and/or do aerobatic instruction as well.

I agree with PilotDAR in principal - fly lots of circuits. However, 50 hours is a significant chunk of the time required for a CPL. If you are going to rent a tailwheel plane for 50 hours you may as well consider working towards CPL, instrument [X-C requirement], night [circuits and/or X-C], and ATPL [night PIC X-C] requirements as well with some cross countries - once you are comfortable in the plane and have done plenty of circuits. I am not saying fly across the country (necessarily); you could fly to a grass strip 30-60 minutes away and do some circuits somewhere different before returning home.

If you are only going to fly ~10 hours, spend almost all of it in the circuit.

If you find a Citabria/Decathlon I would also be doing some aerobatic training, if an aerobatic instructor was available. I regret not spending a bit more time and money when I did my initial tailwheel training to also do some aerobatic training.
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Last edited by TailwheelPilot on Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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youhavecontrol
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Re: Training Time on a Taildragger?

Post by youhavecontrol »

Another plus about Prairie is they know of a dozen or so grass strips in the area owned by farmers that they frequently use. The Three Hills airport also has a parallel grass strip so it would be very easy to get your tailwheel short/grass/sloped-runway landing experiences.
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Beefitarian
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Re: Training Time on a Taildragger?

Post by Beefitarian »

The Calgary Flying Club has a citabria. There is a waiting list but I believe they have a new conventional gear instructor.

Call them up if you're interested, 403-288-8831
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