Copyright 2020. Canadian Owners and Pilots Association Flight 176. All Rights Reserved.
Flying a Radial Taildraggervs. Flying a Jetfor aircraft buffs who appreciate REAL FLYING in REAL AIRPLANEScontributed by Mike BellamyRadial Engine Taildragger ...Starting a radial engine aircraft1.Be sure you drain both the sumps. (you can fill your Zippo lighter while you do this)2.Look out the left side of the oily cockpit canopy and notice a very nervous person holding a huge fire bottle; nod to this person3.Crack throttle about one-quarter of an inch4.Battery on; mags off; fuel boost on5.Hit starter button (the four bladed 13' 6" prop will start a slow turn)6.Count eight blades to make sure bottom cylinders are not hydraulic locked7.Mags on8.Begin to bounce your finger on top of the primer button9.This act requires finesse and style; it is much like a ballet performance; the engine must be seduced and caressed into starting10.Act one will begin: belching, banging, rattling, backfiring, spluttering, flame and black smoke from the exhaust shooting out about three feet. (fire bottle person is very pale and has the nozzle at the ready position)11.When the engine begins to "catch" on the primer; move the mixture to full rich12.The flames from the exhaust will stop and white smoke will come out (fire bottle guy relaxes a bit) you will hear a wonderful throaty roar that is like music to the ears... enjoy the macho smell of engine oil, hydraulic fluid and pilot sweat13.Immediately check the oil pressure and hydraulic gauges14.The entire aircraft is now shaking and shuttering from the torque of the engine and RPM of prop; the engine is an 18 cylinder R-3350 that develops 2,700 HP15.Close cowl flaps to warm up the engine for taxi; definitely not in El Paso; too hot here16.Once you glance around at about 300 levers, gauges and gadgets, call the tower and taxi to the duty runwayTaking off in a radial engine aircraft1.Check both magnetos2.Exercise the prop pitch3.Cowl flaps open4.Check oil temp and pressure5.Crank 1.5 degrees right rudder trim to help your right leg with the torque on takeoff6.Tell the tower you are ready for the duty runway7.Line the bird up and lock the tail wheel for sure8.Add power slowly because the plane (with the torque of the monster prop and engine power definitely wants to go left)9.NEVER add full power suddenly! there is not enough rudder in the entire world to hold it straight10.Add more power and shove in right rudder till your leg begins to tremble11.Expect banging, belching and an occasional manly fart as you roar down the runway at full power (I have found that the engine can make similar noises)12.Lift the tail and when it "feels right" pull back gently on the stick to get off the ground13.Gear up14.Adjust the throttle for climb setting15.Ease the prop back to climb RPM16.Close cowl flaps and keep an eye on the cylinder head temp; wait until the cylinder head temperature drops out of the red; in El Paso probably the best you can do is put the cowl flaps in the trail position17.Adjust the power as needed as you climb higher or turn on the super chargerFlying the radial1.Once your reach altitude which isn't very high! (about 8000 feet) you reduce the throttle and prop to cruise settings2.The next fun thing is to pull back the mixture control until the engine just about quits; then ease it forward a bit and this is best mixture3.While cruising the engine sounds like it might blow or quit at any time; this keeps you occupied scanning engine gauges for the least hint of trouble4.Moving various levers around to coax a more consistent sound from the engine concentrates the mind wonderfully5.At night or over water a radial engine makes noises you have never heard before6.Looking out of the front of the cockpit the clouds are beautiful because they are slightly blurred from the oil on the cockpit canopy7.Seeing lightning in the clouds ahead increases the pucker factor by about 10; you can't fly high enough to get over them and if you try and get under the clouds----you could die in turbulence; you tie down everything in the cockpit that isn't already secured, get a good grip on the stick, turn on the deicers, tighten and lock your shoulder straps and hang on; you then have a ride to exceed any "terror" ride in any amusement park ever built; you discover the plane can actually fly side wise while inverted8.Once through the weather, you call ATC and in a calm deep voice advise them that there is slight turbulence on your route9.You then scan your aircraft to see if all the major parts are still attached. This includes any popped rivets10.Do the controls still work? Are the gauges and levers still in proper limits?11.These being done you fumble for the relief tube, because you desperately need it. (Be careful with your lower flight suit zipper)The jet engine aircraft ...Starting a jet1.Fuel boost on2.Hit the start button3.When the JPT starts to move ease the throttle forward4.The fire bottle person is standing at the back of the plane and has no idea what is going on5.The engine lights off---and---6.That's about itTake off in the jet1.Lower flaps2.Tell the tower you are ready for takeoff3.Roll on to the duty runway while adding 100% power4.Tricycle gear---no tail to drag---no torque to contend with; actually it's very easy to drag the tail in a long jet, MD80 or 737-900, and you don't have that little rubber wheel to protect you; the 727 had a hydraulic skid to keep from dragging the antennas off the belly5.At some exact airspeed you lift off the runway6.Gear up7.Milk up the flaps and fly8.Leave the power at 100%Flying the jet1.Climb at 100%2.Cruise at 100%3.It is silent in the plane4.You can't see clouds because you are so far above them5.You look down and see lightning in some clouds below and pity some poor fool that may have to fly through that mess6.The jet plane is air conditioned!! round engines are definitely not; jet engines are not round? if you fly in tropical areas, this cannot be stressed enough7.There is not much to do in a jet, so you eat your flight lunch at your leisure8.Few gauges to look at and no levers to adjust; this leaves you doodling on your knee board9.Some call girl friends on their cell phones: "Guess where I am, etc"Some observed differences between radial engines and jets ...1.To be a real pilot you have to fly a tail dragger for an absolute minimum of 500 hours2.Large round engines smell of gasoline (115/145); no longer available; Low lead 100 is the best you can do. rich oil, hydraulic fluid, man sweat and are not air-conditioned3.Engine failure to the jet pilot means something is wrong with his air conditioner4.When you take off in a jet there is no noise in the cockpit (this does not create a macho feeling of doing something manly)5.Landing a jet just requires a certain airspeed and altitude---at which you cut the power and drop like a rock to the runway; landing a round engine tail dragger requires finesse, prayer, body English, pumping of rudder pedals and a lot of nerve6.After landing, a jet just goes straight down the runway7.A radial tail dragger is like a wild mustang---it might decide to go anywhere; gusting winds help this behavior a lot8.You cannot fill your Zippo lighter with jet fuel; you could but it wouldn't light; avgas will produce an eight inch flame and a lot of black smoke; a lot of fun when someone ask for a light9.Starting a jet is like turning on a light switch---a little click and it is on10.Starting a round engine is an artistic endeavor requiring prayer (curse words) and sometimes meditation11.Jet engines don't break, spill oil or catch on fire very often which leads to boredom and complacency12.The round engine may blow an oil seal ring, burst into flame, splutter for no apparent reason or just quit. This results in heightened pilot awareness at all times13.Jets smell like a kerosene lantern at a scout camp outing14.Round engines smell like God intended engines to smell, and the tail dragger is the way God intended for man to fly
Canadian Owners and Pilots Association - Flight 176Edmonton, Alberta