Taildragger Recommendations

Jason

Well-Known Member
Thinking about possibly buying a taildragger and since I don't have much experience with them, I am looking for opinions/recommendations from the experts on some models to look at....

I'm looking for something reasonably priced (those brand new Cubs look awesome but way out of the price range), something easy to operate and isn't going to break the bank maintaining. I may look at the mundane (172/152 taildragger) but would prefer something a little more 'classic' (Cub, Champ, 140, etc). I would really like a J3 Cub but the useful load just isn't there - ideally, I'd like whatever I get to be able to carry 400-500 pounds with full fuel.

Thoughts/suggestions....?
 
140/120's are twitchy (at least after the main gear mod); thought about an RV-4? A PA-16 (clipper) is another classic, as is a Pacer (PA-12 I think). Never flown a Taylorcraft but have heard they can be a handful.

PS a C-170 would be another consideration.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
IMO the best deal out there for an all around, go anywhere taildragger is the Cessna 180. It is fast enough to make reasonable long trips, carries enough payload to be able to put 4 people and baggage in the back end and is a great, stable instrument platform. The early ones, 1953-7 are fairly reasonably priced and are a real work horse.

If you want a little pricier plane the Maule is also a great taildragger.

Both of these can be put on floats and work well in harsh environments.

We flew a C-180 for 4 years and found it the most pleasurable aircraft I have flown in my 40 years of flying.
 

Nark

Macho Superpilot
There is a lot out there depending on your price. Also search for plane specific groups. Cesana 120 and 140 (www.cessna120-140.org) has a great webpage to do some research with.

Do you want a 2 or 4 seater? Where are you operating it? (hot + high Density alt can limit your choices)

What I'd recommend: Cessna 120/140. Easy and cheap to maintain. Great for $100 hamburgers. Plus there are many great ones under $30 G's.

Also Taylorcraft and Luscombe's are very similar.
I didn't enjoy the champ a much because I felt the controls were to mushy.

I currently fly a Super Cub and can't say enough good things about them. I wish I had the $100+ to afford one.


As for gaining tailwheel expirience, I like to only do wheel landings. I like to think it keeps me sharp. Also learn you x-wind limit and stick to it. A lite wind can easily push you where you don't want to go.
 

Fly_Unity

Well-Known Member
My vote goes Cessna 180 if you want a a 4 seater with a useful load. Cubs are better mountain planes in my opinion but its only a two seater and slow
 

jynxyjoe

The Kickin' Chicken!
Want a tail dragger that'll keep you workin'? Get urself one of dem' dar' Clippers.

Put hair on your chest.
 

USMC-SSGT

Well-Known Member
Citabria. Price is right, seats two, relatively comfortable on a cross country, speed along the lines of a 172, fairly economic on fuel, very docile and idiot proof to land and one last thing. AEROBATIC!

Of course the 180 is a great bird which I have some time in but can be pricey and maintenance intensive because of the constant speed prop and larger engine. Its younger brother the 170 is also a great choice with less mx cost.

Or a highlander http://www.justaircraft.com/CMS/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=11&Itemid=33
I built one with the cost ending up a little over 60k for a brand new zero time airplane. It is slow at 100mph but a ton of fun and can land in around 150'.
 

pacer7a

New Member
A C170 sounds like it would fit the bill for you. Docile handling, can park it on the ramp versus having to hangar it if you get a tube & fabric airplane. A C180 would be great too, but you're getting up there in price & will have a higher fuel bill. I would love to own one some day though.

I own a Pacer (PA-20 by the way). There are alot of PA22 Tripacer to tailwheel conversions out there for sale at a reasonable price in 125 - 150 hp variants. These planes, along with the Clipper, Vagabond, and Colts, are known collectively as shortwing Pipers. Clippers have sticks and alot of aileron area, which makes them very responsive. The pacers give up some aileron area to add flaps, and have yokes instead of sticks. Check out http://www.shortwing.org. Great resource if you decide to own one, and quite a few planes in the classifieds now. Also, barnstormers.com. Another good resource for you would be supercub.org. There's a recent thread that's dead on to your question, but do a search there and you'll find lots of info about this topic.

The shortwing Pipers are probably the best deal going right now money-wise. My pacer beats a 172 in load capacity and cruise speed, and burns 7gph in economy cruise. They can be a handful on the ground if not setup right, but if you get one that's dialed in, they're great fun airplanes. They are going to be more demanding in ground handling than a cub variant (PA-11, PA-12, supercub), but you'll get used to it. If you go this route, get someone who is familiar with the shortwings to do a prebuy for you. Prebuy is mandatory in my book. There can be issues with corrosion in the fuselage, especially in the door areas.

Search for pacer on youtube. Some guys in New Zealand have some pretty wacky vids with the pacer doing some off-field / beach operations.

Feel free to pm me if you want more info.
 

Foxcow

Well-Known Member
Check out Luscombes. They can be a handful but they are a blast to fly. I used to fly a 1947 8A before a renter at the school groundlooped and totaled the airplane.
 

Jason

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the replies everyone!

The 180 looks like an amazing airplane - I think it's more airplane than I need/want but I'm going to give it a serious look.

I'm mainly looking for a weekend/evening fun flier and will generally be by myself or with 1 other person....although it wold be nice to have extra seats. Operating enviornment is not much of a consideration - even when it gets really hot in the summer, you don't usually see density altitudes much above 1,500 feet. As much as I'd like to go ''old school" - the more I think about it, I think I'll probably limit the search to aluminum airplanes as it is fairly difficult to find covered parking of any type around here.

At this point, the budget is fairly open but I'd like to keep the top end in the $60-70K range if I do it myself. If I take on a partner or two, the sky is the limit -- does Cirrus make a taildragger??? [sarcasm]
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
I'm mainly looking for a weekend/evening fun flier and will generally be by myself or with 1 other person....although it wold be nice to have extra seats. Operating enviornment is not much of a consideration - even when it gets really hot in the summer, you don't usually see density altitudes much above 1,500 feet. As much as I'd like to go ''old school" - the more I think about it, I think I'll probably limit the search to aluminum airplanes as it is fairly difficult to find covered parking of any type around here. [sarcasm]
I'd say a Cessna 170 is probably the plane for you then.

Or a C-140 with metalized wings is a fantastic plane also. That's what I fly. Mine has an empty weight of 930 lbs with a max takeoff weight of 1450. It carries 25 gallons of gas and burns a little over 5 gph. So with full fuel you can only carry a little over 300 lbs of people and bags, but I'm really small (130 lbs) so it works fine for me.

PM me if you have any questions about 140s, I've gone through two annuals and have about 170 flight hours on mine, so I know them inside and out by now.
 

Orange Anchor

New Member
If money is no object, go with something like a C-185. If you want style and admiration, go with a C-190. If you want people to hang around your plane and ask questions, buy a Swift. If you just want something to tool around in, think about a -170B.

-195


-170B


A Swift (note: Swifts are like snow flakes.. no two the same)


Note too.. small planes are like RJs..You can carry all the fuel and some of the bags, some of the fuel and all of the bags but you can't carry all the fuel and all the bags and all the people.

As for the tricycles converted to tailwheels, it may be hard to re-sell. They seem to be a mixed market.

IF you want a real bulldog of an airplane that can do lots, think of a Maule.. one of the few airplanes I know that has 'reflex flaps'.
 
Sorry... I'm going to disagree on the C-170B; the A and B variants have "piano key" switches that are becoming a complete nightmare to find when the do break. The C-170C has traditional breaker switches that are easy to find.

If you're going to spend the bulk of the time flying by yourself I'd encourage looking at the C-140a (metal wing). The metal wing is actually about 5mph faster than the cloth wing too.
 

WacoFan

Bigly
The Cessna 180 is an amazing airplane. If Cessna were to bring it back, I bet they would sell out a years production just for Bush pilots wanting to replace the old ones.

The Cessna 190/195 was a great machine. Rode right seat in one that was equiped with X-wind landing gear - that was weird.

I love Luscombe's as well as C120/140's. I always thought the Luscombe was more squirrely on the ground than the Cessna's, and much more prone to fold a gear leg in a ground-loop. I would choose a Luscombe though, with a 150hp Lycoming - it is a rocket.

Look also at the Stinson 108 series - I have always been a big fan of Stinson airplanes.
 

BenWlson

Well-Known Member
You could definitely get a Swift in your price range, and they are an absolute blast to fly.

(Note Avatar)
 

Jason

Well-Known Member
Well if money was no object -- I'd be shopping for a.....

1) Beech Staggerwing
2) DC-3
3) Beech 18

...in that order. There is an old Beech 18 at the airport tied down next to my club plane - obviously been abandoned/forgotten/neglected for years if not decades. It doesn't even have engines in it - just the airframe. I'm always thinking that I'd love to buy it and restore it but that's so far out of the price range, I can't even dream that big.


Jason
 

scooter2525

Very well Member
Well if money was no object -- I'd be shopping for a.....

1) Beech Staggerwing
2) DC-3
3) Beech 18

...in that order. There is an old Beech 18 at the airport tied down next to my club plane - obviously been abandoned/forgotten/neglected for years if not decades. It doesn't even have engines in it - just the airframe. I'm always thinking that I'd love to buy it and restore it but that's so far out of the price range, I can't even dream that big.


Jason

Thats when you buy it, park it on the club planes spot, and let everyone know "okay... time to get to work"
 

little_cricket

Well-Known Member
I, too am looking at taildragger. I am looking for a two place that is cheap on gas and can handle a little back country flying. I think, I have narrowed it down to Kitfox, Eurofox, or a Highlander.
 
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