My son sent me this to post. We are both novice flyers.
I have a Sig Kadet EP42 and love the plane, but I was wondering if it would
be possible to add a steerable tailwheel. The plane performs great after
takeoff, but it wants to veer to one side or another quickly after you apply
power initially. The wheels are small enough to prevent takeoff on grass in
most cases, so I end up trying to takeoff on narrow strips of
asphalt/concrete. I have tried applying power slowly/quickly, applying
rudder, etc. and nothing seemed to make a difference. I am a new pilot, so
I'm sure my inexperience is a big factor here. Any advice would be greatly
Since you say you guys are both novice flyers, I have to ask if you're aware of the effect of propeller torque on a plane, especially on a taildragger at takeoff. My guess is, unless you have a good wind from the right, it wants to veer left all the time? On a taildragger, you have to be ready with that rudder, usually, you'll need to apply right rudder to counteract the prop torque. A tailwheel will help, heck you need it for taxiing, but as soon as the tail lifts, it's all about rudder. I'm surprised they didn't include a tailwheel on that model.
Thanks everyone. Very helpful. We were wondering if just a fixed tailwheel
might have a significant impact on the Kadet's ability to have a straight takeoff roll etc. without going through the complexities of trying to rig up a steerable tailwheel ? Also we're very intrigued by the article on toe-out from gyrocptr. Never thought about that before.
A fixed tail wheel can work fine to a point but you will have no maneuverability while it is on the ground. It does keep the plane going straight for a bit though. I have a super cub that I take off by just going full throttle. The wheel keeps it straight and once the tail lifts the rudder keeps it straight. Careful wheel alignment and rudder trim are important.
I strongly disagree with the recommendation for toe-out, just the opposite has always been my experience in literally dozens of tail draggers. Toe-out will usually result in very poor take off's. On grass you will definitely benefit if you put on larger wheels. Check to make sure you do have some toe in on your model, if you do not, that may be part of your take off problems.
I think toe-in or toe-out or dead neutral, are all the right answer for different planes.
I tried all 3 on my WWI Fokker D-VII bipe, and toe-out gave a marked improvement (I added a steerable tailwheel as I often fly from pavement), more for preventing groundloops while landing than helping for takeoff, though.
I think saying all tail-draggers benefit from X is akin to saying all trucks, motorhomes, and sports-cars should all have the same alignment settings.
Also, the size of the wheels, the profile of the wheels, and how much give the suspension has are all factors, as well as how the toe and camber change with suspension deflection.
Ask me why your DX5e is doomed... and how to fix it.
In my 40 some years of working as a licensed aircraft mechanic I can't recall any airplane that required toe out when aligning the landing gear. All reduired a few degrees of toe in. http://www.checkthesock.com/pilots/Henry
Hmm... The EAA article that Gyrocptr linked sure makes a logical argument in the sense of how the plane behaves when the weight of the taildragger is unbalanced to one side or the other, but then the NASA snippet I linked sounds very logical, too. I've been an A&P for oh... over 20 years, but it's always been on airliners and on the line, not real heavy checks, so I never dealt with, or even heard of any alignment issues.
Anyways, I've never had to adjust the alignment on any of my models yet. I've never had an issue with them veering due to that, just prop torque and wind. You need to do that pilot stuff!