Getting a lift – My first time in a Taildragger

My airplane needed to go to the AMO to have some work done. This, as most aircraft owners will appreciate, is a real pain. To achieve this 10nm flight requires two adults, at least one car and a fair bit of patience from the non flying adult.

The usual rigmarole – drive to Baragwanath airfield. Drop off flying adult at Baragwanath. Non flying adult drives (usually in rush hour traffic) to Tedderfield while flying adult preflights and flies the aircraft to Tedderfield. Both adults then drive home. Understandably, this plan is not too popular with the non flying partner because it can be a 2.5h exercise when we have better things to do.

With this unhappiness in the back of my mind, I took a cheeky chance and asked on our club group if anyone was around and would be able to fly me back to Bara – and there was more than one taker (I was surprised – Tuesday morning isn’t the time of day you’d expect folks to be around wanting to fly…). So it came to be that I got my first flight in a new type and my first flight in a taildragger.

Demetre and his 40kg Rottweiler Buck kindly offered to fetch me from Tedderfield in their Glasair Sportsman– Buck is a keen aviator and hops into the back of the Glasair when the door is opened for him – I’m told he behaves quite well. My dog would not be a great passenger…

Glasair Sportsman 2+2 – Photo by Charles Jackson on Flickr – Licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

I’ve only been in the right seat on a light aircraft once or twice since I began flight training – it is not a comfortable spot. Added to that the fact that you can’t see over the cowl made me quite nervous – but I need not have worried – the Glasair feels powerful and once the tail came up the picture looked as I was used to.

I did a little flying on the way back and was impressed with how stable the aircraft is and how solid the controls feel. Demetre has his panel done really nicely with a large EFiS from Advanced Flight Systems, an iPad Mini built into the panel running SkyDemon and a Garmin 795 in front of the copilot.

The very disconcerting and unusual sight picture presented itself again on the landing – it really felt like we were about to go off the side of the runway but we weren’t. Thanks to my fellow JLPC club member what would have been a long ordeal was made simple and easy. As he said, “you have to use an airplane like a car”. Apparently this is a common practice in the club with guys helping to ferry aircraft around. Hopefully I can return the favor at some point.

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