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Thread: Ground loop

  1. #1
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    Default Ground loop

    I will get straight to the point;

    Is ground loop really a big problem for conventional geared aircraft?

    I am a Army Blackhawk pilot stationed at Fort Wainwright and now I am looking to purchase an aircraft for myself. I have pretty limited experience with fixed wing flight. A lot of what I read makes ground loop out to be something that happens all the time and is incredibly dangerous. Common sense based on seeing hundreds of old tail draggers still around leads me to believe this is not the case. The Blackhawk has conventional style landing gear, and we use it for rolling take offs and landings similar to that of an airplane. The Blackhawk has a locking pin that can be engaged/disengaged from the cockpit that locks the tailwheel in place preventing the tail end from coming loose and the aircraft spinning?

    Why are similar devices not installed on conventional geared aircraft and would they be effective in preventing ground loop?

    For those who have flown both helicopters and conventional geared aircraft, would my helicopter experience benefit me in the idea that I would already be familar with an increased requirement for pedal control?

    Thank you.

    Mike

  2. #2

    Default

    Ground loops are not that frequent, although many tailwheel airplanes have one in their history (if it was recorded). Some models are more likely to groundloop than others and require more vigilance. On the locking tailwheel, some heavier airplans have them, but I'm not aware of any in the below 3000 lb gross weight class. Good instruction and lots of practice will make a groundloop unlikely in reasonable wind conditions. The main thing is to always anticipate the airplane and get on the rudder before something bad starts to happen.

  3. #3
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    Default

    The only two ground loops that I have been involved with occured while instructing pilots who already had tail-wheel experience but who were rusty.

    One occured when the client could not make up his mind between a 3 point landing and a wheel landing. As a result he hit on the mains about 10 knots faster than landing speed, in a crosswind. He bounced, weathervaned, corrected and then managed to let the up wind wing lift until the downwind wing was about 2 inches off the runway.
    Then the oplane pivoted on the only tire touching anything as he exited the runway at 90 degrees. The crosswind was now a nice tailwind. Of course there was a large water filled ditch which we eventually ran into.

    The second event was in a no wind situation, on an icy runway. Lots of people watching.. A rather rusty Super Cub pilot had a new and very tail heavy S.C. He needed a BFR.
    He went towards the snow berm in one direction and then over-corrected towards the other. About that time his removable rear bar behind the seat let go and I took a trip torwards the cargo bay. After making the sign of ZORO on the runway we finally lined up on our original headed just before sliding sideways into the snow.

    The center of gravity is BEHIND the main gear on a tailwheel. Once it is misaligned, various laws of physics come into play.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  4. #4
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    Arrow 60 "techniques"

    As far as the hawk techniques, don't try to equate any of that to your airplane flying and you'll be better off. I have time in the hawk as well but the hawk's "wing" (disk) is manipulated with your right hand. You don't have that luxury in the airplane. That's just one example of dozens. There are few similiarities but the best thing you could do is keep it as 2 separate beasts in your mind.

  5. #5

    Smile tailwheel

    The tailwheel airplanes have a transition period between when the tail stops flying and the aircraft has stopped. Groundloops happen during this phase of rollout. If the pilot makes an extra effort to think that the tail wants to come forward as the brakes are applied ( forward either way) then you will react with opposite, adequate pressure to keep the tail behind you. Its not a problem as long as you concentrete. Best of luck, and dont be intimidated.
    Also, if you are in a cub or similar, secure a couple of cinder blocks aft until you get the feel. The weight is a more natural feel than an empty cub (slightly nose heavy, yet light).
    Pick A Spot

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    Default

    Thank you all for the responses. I did not expect nearly so many, so quickly. I have pretty much narrowed down my choice and I think I am going to end up purchasing a Citabria GCBC or similar derivative. I am still open to finding a good deal on some other aircraft but I think that is the one I want. Hopefully this forum will remain my only experience with ground loop.
    Mike

  7. #7

    Angry Ground loops

    I fly a Maule M-4 which is "notorious" for ground looping (if you don't know how to fly one) I have flown mine for 15+ years and have never G/L it. (just a second let me find some wood to knock on)

    As (Mikthestik) said the rollout is where pilots get in trouble. With any short coupled tail draggers (Maules, PA-20, etc) you need to avoid the rollout.

    When your on the ground "Full throttle / Full Brake" very little in between.

  8. #8
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    Post A bit more on a tough question...

    Many years ago when I started to fly,always heard about the horror stories but never did I think it would bite me,yes,you guessed it...I ground looped a Champ,ruined the prop,the right wing tip,and the tail.Needless to say it scared the daylites out of me,(and embaressed me to no end) cause I had been flying tri-cycle geared planes and thats not counting the cost.Well that was a long time ago,sold the Champ,then I bought a Super cub and I put it up on its nose,ruined its prop,( the Champ is tail heavy the cub is not,as I found out) tore the gear off another one, (Big Rock sticking out of the tundra) ruined the tip of a float plane prop,learning to fly a float plane (another Super cub),so when it comes to learning I can relate to alot of what they call "chalk it up to a leaning experience" and as to your question...there is an old saying-there are those of us who have,and those of use who will'...never let yourself get behind that airplane, stay ahead of it all the time!..say it again,never is the key word.Its been years now since I screwed up an plane and I have logged hundreds of hours,but I still never forget the ground looped Champ every time I get ready to take off or land. ......be ready!..and be careful....and ALWAYS PREFLIGHT....Gene

  9. #9
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    Default Grizzly 1

    Quote Originally Posted by wobblywojg View Post
    I will get straight to the point;

    Is ground loop really a big problem for conventional geared aircraft?

    I am a Army Blackhawk pilot stationed at Fort Wainwright and now I am looking to purchase an aircraft for myself. I have pretty limited experience with fixed wing flight. A lot of what I read makes ground loop out to be something that happens all the time and is incredibly dangerous. Common sense based on seeing hundreds of old tail draggers still around leads me to believe this is not the case. The Blackhawk has conventional style landing gear, and we use it for rolling take offs and landings similar to that of an airplane. The Blackhawk has a locking pin that can be engaged/disengaged from the cockpit that locks the tailwheel in place preventing the tail end from coming loose and the aircraft spinning?

    Why are similar devices not installed on conventional geared aircraft and would they be effective in preventing ground loop?

    For those who have flown both helicopters and conventional geared aircraft, would my helicopter experience benefit me in the idea that I would already be familar with an increased requirement for pedal control?

    Thank you.

    Mike
    With almost 20,000 hours, most of which was in tandem geared aircraft, I've never encountered a ground loop. Regardless of loads or winds. My old instructors told me simply to stay on the controls, including the rudder pedals, until the engine has been shut down and the prop has stopped moving. That means staying on ALL the controls !!!

    My own advice extends to the ailerons: use them for ground handling turns in ANY wind. The Super Cubs, when empty, need to be watched especially when taxiing downwind (stick FORWARD), since, as others have pointed out, they are pretty light aft, and tend to nose over once in a while.

    But, ground loops? Stay on the controls and just don't worry about them. I doubt that you'll ever have one.

  10. #10

    Default Ground Loops

    There are some aircraft that are like a bad dog, just waiting to bite you when you get complacent. The C195 is one of these it will try to come around on you at a fast walk.
    I have a little over 600 hours in my M-4 and a couple of close calls. One in particular which was my fault and another from wind shear which in hind sight I should have recognized.
    Practice, there is no substitute! I pulled the plane off the lake/skis a few weeks ago and spent a couple of hours hitting a number of strips around the Valley getting reaquainted with wheels. I was humbled. I was also pleased I didn't have an audience and I fly 10-15 hours a month.
    My IA Outside flys Cranes for a living and a tail dragger for fun. There's no crossover.
    The biggest ally you have in the cockpit is that throttle. If anything is wrong, by the time the knob is in the panel you're off the ground and safe again. I also find that my heels never seem to touch the floor boards either.
    The Citabria is a great plane that will serve you well for many purposes. Enjoy.

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