Aug 2013 Janet Barger (Indiana)
Janet Barger is based at KBFR,Â Virgil I Grissom Municipal Airport, Bedford, Indiana.
You asked why I fly taildraggers? I have thought on that for two days now, and the only answer that seems to make real sense is “It’s far easier to fly one than try and taxi it.”
I can remember sitting in a B-25 at age 3, and hanging out at the base with dad watching B-29’s, 36’s, and 25’s. Watching him build models I learned big airplanes had the little wheel in the front and were aluminum, and little airplanes had the little wheel in back and were covered with fabric. I thought it must be economics, little wheels and cloth were less expensive.
During the war, my grandmother was a “Rosie the Riveter.” She assured me that women did a much better job of building airplanes, but the wisdom of actually leaving the ground in one was subject to doubt.
When I was in high school a friend and I hiked to the local airport to look at airplanes. What a surprise that was. I found that all the little airplanes there were covered with metal, and the little wheel was in the wrong place…what a disappointment! We walked by the mechanic’s shop, noticed the photos the mechanics had posted and found that they did not like to use fabric covering for women either.
We were quickly out of the shop and back into the hanger. I returned home disappointed that the airplanes I had read about were not in production now, and it might be hard to find a mechanic who had his mind on airplanes.
So that’s how it happened. Years later I learned to fly, and just flew whatever interested me and discovered the little wheel seems to be following the big ones most of the time. I still do not know why, but most of the really interesting airplanes just let the little wheel follow the big ones.
Funny, I never thought of myself as a taildragger pilot until I noticed on a BFR the instructor told me to do a touch and go. I landed, raised the flaps, re-trimmed, added power, took off, and then noticed I had forgotten to let the nosewheel touch the ground 🙂