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Taming the taildragger. Compleat Taildragger figures to show how taildraggers and trikes differ with respect to their center of gravity, tendency to swap ends. Written by a CFI with 38 years of taildragger flying experience, The Compleat Taildragger Pilot can save you time and money on a taildragger checkout. Buy The Compleat Taildragger Pilot by Harvey S. Plourde (ISBN: ) from Amazon’s Book Store. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible.

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Harvey Plourde: Compleat Taildragger Pilot

My instructor recommended this book. It’s a “homebuilt”–published by the author’s widow, peppered with typographical errors Cessna’s as the plural of Cessna, it’s as a possessive and illustrated with simple but useful stick figures to show how taildraggers and trikes differ with respect to their center of gravity, tendency to swap ends, and sensitivity to crosswinds.

Harvey Plourde learned to fly in an Aeronca Champ in He served in the USAF as an aircraft instrument mechanic, then got an engineering degree in He worked in the aerospace industry for 30 years, meanwhile flying with the New Hampshire Civil Air Patrol as its chief check pilot. Some of his opinions contradict my own training.


For example, Plourde is dead set against high-speed taxis, which he regards as dangerous in the extreme. Yet my instructor not the one who recommended the book got me ready for my first takeoff by having me charge down a private grass strip with the Cub’s tail in the air.

Of course he was 23, just out of the Marines, with very sharp reflexes. As Plourde points out, the CFI is in the aircraft for two reasons: No doubt Brian was confident that he could head off an inadverent takeoff or prevent me from putting the Cub on its nose.

I am less sure of the second. Six months after Brian departed from my life, a student making a high-speed taxi in that Cub–an L-4, formerly the property of the Massachusetts Air Guard–hit the brakes and wrecked it utterly.

Especially good on the presentation of P-factor, which affects a taildragger more than a trike. In a less theoretical vein, the discussion of crosswind landings is something that the experienced pilot can benefit from reviewing from time to time. There’s also a suggested curriculum for transitioning from trikes to taildraggers–probably the usual circumstance now, when most training taildraggerr done in one or another Cessna trike.


Astonishingly, Plourde’s suggested minimum amounts to That must cause some head-shaking among the Old Pilots who soloed the Piper Cub in 8 hours. Part of the basic library for any pilot who flies or hopes to fly a taildragger. Do you have a question or opinion? Post it on the message board: Once or twice a month, I send out an email about these websites and the topics thereon.

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