Learn in a tailwheel airplane, or at least pretend you’re in a tailwheel airplane whenever taxiing, taking off and landing. Makes good sense to me.
Kerry Hackney is vice president and director of training at Platinum Aviation, the largest Cirrus training center in the Cirrus Partner network and one of the first schools appointed by Cirrus Aircraft as a Cirrus Platinum Training Partner. A pilot for 29 years, Hackney is an ATP, a CFI-I, a former Master Flight Instructor and a Cirrus standardized instructor pilot (CSIP). He says:
The argument is sometimes made that a tailwheel airplane is better for teaching basic stick and rudder skills. These skills can be learned in any aircraft, providing you have a good instructor who emphasizes the basics during the entire learning process. Learning in a tailwheel airplane makes you a better pilot in just that — a tailwheel aircraft.
I believe it makes the most sense to do your primary flight training in the type of airplane you intend to fly once you get your certificate. Many of our customers at Platinum Aviation actually start from zero time in the Cirrus SR22 Turbo and solo in that aircraft.
Our customers are typically learning to fly for a predetermined mission. Many are looking for an alternative to airline travel. Because of this, it is very important for us to teach far beyond the private pilot Practical Test Standards and teach real-world, scenario-based flying. Our customers need a solid foundation, including basic stick and rudder, but far beyond, to call upon once they begin using the aircraft for their personal and business transportation needs.
Conducting primary flight training in an advanced aircraft like the Cirrus, by necessity, emphasizes aircraft systems and the need to know how all of the systems are interconnected. Many times, systems understanding is overlooked by instructors teaching in simpler aircraft. We find that pilots who learn in technologically advanced aircraft, whether they learn at our facility or others, have a greater understanding of their airplanes than those who learn in simpler aircraft types at traditional flight schools.
The bottom line to this question is that things change with time, and so we as instructors must change. Traditional methods of flight instruction must be adapted to meet the needs of today’s flight training customers and the more capable aircraft they intend to fly.
Sure … you can learn in a tailwheel. Maybe you have a passion for flying antique aircraft?