Coming to Gulf Shores, Alabama, I had less than 2 hours of tailwheel time. Over the 12 days I spent with Haley Howard and Rod Kellogg, I logged over 40 hours of tailwheel time in an American Champion Scout (N424A) and Carbon Cub SS (N5KQ).

The majority of my tailwheel training was done in the Carbon Cub, with some occurring in the American Champion Scout. Since I wasn’t paying for the flight training and CFI bill, it was legal to do training in the Carbon Cub, otherwise you’d need to be the owner to receive training in the experimental aircraft.

Before Gulf Shores, I took a tailwheel lesson at Hanover KOFP, my local flight school, to get accustomed to the basics of tailwheel flight. Learning to dance on the rudder pedals to keep the plane straight while the tail was in the air was the hardest part for me. Instead of the long, constant motions of adjusting the rudder in a conventional-gear aircraft, I found the quick jabs of tailwheel airplanes to be completely foreign and challenging.

Over time, in Gulf Shores, I got much better at mastering the differences between the conventional and tailwheel gear airplanes. With the time I was able to build, flying tailwheels consistently, things became much easier. With the Carbon Cub’s power, it would take off within 2 or 3 seconds; we often chose to reduce the power for takeoff to give me a better chance to practice dancing on the pedals while heading down the runway (this gave me an experience similar to flying a normal Piper Cub).

In the end, Rod signed me off for my tailwheel endorsement after a few flights and practice. Once he felt comfortable soloing me in the airplane, it was all said and done. Tailwheel flying is awesome, I love the challenge of it.


Thanks for exposing my to the world of tailwheel flying, Haley and Rod!
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation


About The Author

If you want to become a pilot, I want to make your journey just a little easier. I'm a First Officer for Envoy Air, one of the largest regional airlines in the world, and have partnered with industry leaders like the U.S. Air Force to teach about various aviation careers. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

8 Responses

  1. Karlene

    Swayne, I’m not sure if the average non-pilot viewer understands the power of what you have done here. The best flying there is! And you just keep expanding your powers of performance. And… one of the many reasons I dedicated my new book to you!
    Keep up the great work!!!

    • Swayne Martin

      Karlene, thank you so much for your comment! Tailwheel flying is pretty incredible. I’m so excited to read your book and am honored that it was dedicated to me and all of the up and coming aviators out there.

  2. Mauricio

    Excellent post! It’s a challenge to fly a tailwheel airplane if you are used to tricycle (that’s how we call it here) gear planes like a C150. What I find more difficult is the landing, I guess I’ll have to work that out a bit (I fly a PA11 from time to time).

    Regards from Argentina!

      • Mauricio

        For sure it’s a lot of fun, and of course I do enjoy flying! There’s nothing like seeing your city from above, a unique perspective.
        I have a blog too, it’s in Spanish though. But you can take a look at my YT channel or flickr account to see how it is to fly here. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll send you the links.


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