This past week I spent two days having the most awesome flying experience! I flew over 13 hours and made 97 landings (all but 3 were on grass, dirt or sand) while learning to fly a tailwheel (or taildragger) airplane. I flew 3 different planes, but all were substantially copies of the Piper Cub. Here is one of the planes I flew:
It takes A LONG time for a pilot of standard tricycle gear airplanes to learn how to land a tailwheel. It is VERY frustrating and tiring. You are using the rudder pedals so much it feels like you have done several hundred leg presses at the gym. My legs felt like spaghetti and I was drenched in sweat at the end of each day.
In addition, my training included short field and backcountry flying. True missionary aviation! I learned to fly close to the ground like a cropduster:
and to fly into unimproved “airstrips” like this field next to a country church: The grass in that field was up to the door of the plane. We had to use a special technique of lowering flaps to “elevate” the plane enough to get it out of the grass. We then flew between two crops of trees out over a river to gain airspeed. I also had to learn to fly into extremely short airstrips like this one:
Yep, that is a cell tower at the end of this little strip. You flew in over the road (looking for traffic) and had to stop before getting to the cell tower. This is a one-way-in and one-way-out strip. Here is another strip in the middle of a corn field:
It was a little easier compared to the others. We also looked for bears, deer and red wolves by air. It was the greatest learning experience I have had flying and it is techniques that I hope to share with future preacher pilots. My instructor told me about a preacher and a doctor who both flew little planes just like this all over Eastern North Carolina ministering to the farmers and locals. This is exactly why Great Commission Aviation exists. It also never hurts to end two-days of exhausting training with views like this: