Tailwheel Training Quote: “I had a blast!”

TW Scholarship winner Brittany Reinbolt is barely back from training with Brian Lansburgh at Tailwheel Town but took the time to shoot me this awesome email. What a fantastic declaration about earning her tailwheel endorsement! Thank you Brittany. I particularly loved your very first comment and welcome you to the land of taildraggers!; “I had a blast and am so happy to be apart of the tailwheel community!”

 

I have often heard that there are two types of pilots; the pilots that fly by the numbers and the pilots that fly by the seat of their pants. The numbers pilots are generally the product of a flight training program that is designed to produce professional pilots. On the other hand, the seat of their pants pilots (otherwise known as stick and rudder pilots) well… they are the product of Brian Lansburgh.

Brittany and Brian at Tailwheel Town

Up until last week, I was a numbers pilot. It all began during my freshman year of college when I found myself in a fantastic little program that (I biasedly say) has produced some of the finest pilots in the professional industry. However, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I didn’t exactly fit the professional pilot mold. At the time, I wasn’t interested in climbing corporate ladders or landing at a career where I could potentially earn a lot of money. Instead, I was interested in adventurously exploring the skies like Amelia Earhart and Patty Wagstaff. I guess you could say that I wanted to be a stick and rudder pilot or better yet, I guess you could say that I wanted to be a tailwheel pilot!

Brittany Reinbolt

Fast forward several years, and I find myself competing full-time as a driver on the U.S. Bobsled team. Despite a rigorous training schedule and multiple jobs, I always manage to keep myself in the air by working as a flight instructor during the bobsled off-season. I can’t help but to constantly notice the parallels between bobsled and aviation. In fact, I give my pilot training a lot of credit for the little success that I’ve found in bobsled and I give bobsled credit for teaching me how to manage fears and for fueling my desire to further explore aviation. The relationship is synonymous! I know the same energy and intensity I have come to love in driving bobsleds, exists in piloting planes too; and I knew the first step to exploring this parallel further in aviation was to get my tailwheel endorsement.

Brittany with Bonnie Kilis

Then Ladies Loves Taildraggers sent me to train in Sisters, Oregon with Brian Lansburgh of Tailwheel Town! It didn’t take Brian long to figure out that who I want to be as a pilot, didn’t exactly match up to who I currently am as a pilot. As a part-time flight instructor of private pilot students, I fly the plane with my mouth and I haven’t ventured beyond the basic flight maneuvers in quite some time. For example, I can confidently talk anyone through a nice square pattern with shallow turns and set them up for a perfectly stabilized approach.

It also didn’t take me long to realize that Brian didn’t care too much for my “acme” methods (Brian likes to refer to modern flight instruction as “acme”). This all became evident when Brian asked me a question about my spin training. Before he could even finish his question, I was releasing the controls mid-flight to nervously tighten my seat belt. Needless to say, I had the privilege of practicing spins every single lesson while I was in Tailwheel Town. Now spins are my favorite maneuver!

Brushing up on my spin training was just the beginning of the adventure. Brian taught me how to fly with the knowledge of a numbers pilot combined with the freedom of a stick and rudder pilot. I felt like a missionary pilot in the jungles every time that we departed runway 02 at Sisters! We buzzed through circular irrigation pivots and I got my first taste of mountain flying when we circled the top of Three Fingered Jack (which happens to be the peak of a volcano)! We flew in formation with Jim Mateski and his cute dog! Ultimately, my best landing of the week was when we glided down from 8,000 feet with the propeller completely stopped (the famous dead stick landing)! I don’t want to spoil everything, so you will just have to go visit Brian yourself to learn all of the fun and innovative maneuvers that we practiced in order to turn me into a more proficient pilot and of course – a tailwheel pilot!

Like every good instructor, Brian knows how to push his students outside of their comfort zone. There are only two aviation-related activities that I have long sworn that I will never participate in. The first – hand propping. The second – jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. I normally don’t give into peer pressure very easily, so I couldn’t believe that Brian had actually convinced me to do both on the same day! Hand propping ended up being a breeze and I’m glad to have added it to my skill set. However, skydiving will have to wait for another day. As we were climbing up to 10,000 feet, the winds picked up and we couldn’t jump. Despite this, I’m still in shock that I actually suited up and got on the plane for the jump! Next time!

I am now happy to say that I am officially a tailwheel pilot – and this is only the beginning!

Thank you to everyone who joined me on this journey by donating to the Ladies Love Taildragger scholarship fund; to Tailwheel Town for an amazing adventure; to Jim Mateski, Sisters Eagle Airport, and Skydive Awesome for allowing me to join camp alongside the runway in a fancy trailer; and to all of the wonderful people who shared stories with me at the Sisters, Madras, and Prineville airports! I am forever grateful for your kindness!

Brittany Reinbolt, Searcy, Arkansas.

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