Sometimes we are resistant to change. Frequent readers will recognize that I changed the banner above. It is something I have been meaning to do for a while. The old photograph was long overdue for changing. So now I’m using this great shot one of my students caught of me in my new office, the backseat of my Champ.
It is a great office. And I love what I do there. When I decided to leave work full time, one of the things I wanted to do was to teach people how to fly taildraggers. The work is challenging, rewarding, and probably the best adjective to describe it – is fun!
My Champ is a straight 1946 Aeronca 7AC in which the original 65-hp Continental engine was converted to a C-85-12F engine of 85-hp. It carries all of 13 gallons of 100-LL which is good for about 2 hours and 53 minutes without a reserve. So basically, fly around for two hours at the blazing speed of 87 mph. Yep, that’s right. Miles per hour, not knots.
That’s fine, however, this is not an airplane to travel quickly to faraway destinations. The singular reason for flying this airplane is to go out and have fun. It is also good for learning how to fly all over again. And of course, it teaches pilots how to fly with a stick and rudder and reinforces the idea of holding the stick all the way back throughout landing and then flying the airplane all the way to the tiedown spot.
I have taken some of my friends and former students up in the Champ. I thought I would be doing a lot of work talking from the back office, but I have been pleasantly surprised! I would watch in awe as the experienced pilots I allowed into the front cockpit started to listen to the Champ as the airplane gently reminded them how to fly again without any of my input. I sat in the back smiling as pilot after pilot experimented with flying the antique airplane, and each, in their own way, listened to what the old airplane had to say about maintaining airspeed, keeping altitude, maintaining a centered ball, and reintroducing the concept of adverse yaw.
Sitting in the back office, I have taken great delight in watching my friends play with the airplane. They didn’t know it, but they were guinea pigs in helping me develop a curriculum and lesson plans for the business of teaching tailwheel technique. I think they had as much fun as I did through the process.
Is it important to learn how to fly an old taildragger? I wrote about it 12 years ago and I am very passionate when I say everyone should fly a taildragger. (See Why You Should Fly That Old Taildragger.)
If you are curious, hit me up for an introduction to how to fly planes with a tiny wheel in the back.