V tail Handling
I have a Vee tailed experimental light sport that I have not flown yet. I have never flown anything with a vee tail. So I have a few naïve questions about the flying qualities of same.
One will I feel a difference? and two Will it side slip the same? l love to use the sideslip to control my approach angle. the plane I will be flying is a Mini Straton Motor Glider. it does not have spoilers so sideslips are a very desirable quality.
The only V-tail I've flown is the Bonanza, and the V-tail version flies essentially the same as the straight tail version, including slips. There might be slightly less rudder authority, but if so it's not enough that I ever noticed it in versions from the original 1947 model to the late 1970s versions (I think they went to straight tail only after 1982).
How well it slips (or does anything else) is not going to be exactly the same as other aircraft you've flown, but a properly designed V-tail shouldn't be a hindrance.
The Sonex comes as a V-tail...They talk about the Bonanza and say these airplanes fly nothing like the Bonanza but better. They also say they have a version as a motor glider.
Last edited by 1600vw; 01-08-2014 at 09:01 AM.
While I have not flown a light V tail like you are talking about, I have flown both kinds of Bonanzas. I have about a thousand hours in T-34 Mentors and my Be 36TC, and recently borrowed an older V tail Bonanza when mine was in for annual,
They seem to fly similar, not exactly the same. If if you were just flying the plane and never even knew about the tail you might not notice the difference. But if you take a moment the feel it it out, the older V tail was a little less stable in straight ahead cruise, it has a bit more yaw. Now some people say this effect is solely because of the tail, but there are other factors, such as the shorter fuselage on the older model and that there is less dihedral in the wing design than some other brands.
I didn't do any slips in the V tail, so can't speak directly about that. I prefer to try to approach on glide path, rather than too high, and not have to slip as part of my normal landing. I also try to fly gliders this way, but all that I've flown have spoilers/brakes, can't recall if I have flown a V tail glider.
Anyway, I expect most any certified plane, power or glider will have met testing standards and if there was a problem it would be listed in the flight manual like prohibitions against spins are in some, and there is noting against this in the normal V tail manual. The straight tail version slips fine, and the T-34 is a good acro plane.
Obvously in your light sport motor glider, you are going to be relying on how good a job the designer did, and I would inquire as to how much flight testing he did and what were the results.
And when you get to flying the plane, wear a chute and go up high to do your first slips just to be sure.
Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 01-09-2014 at 06:14 PM.
My comparison was primarily between the V-35 and F-33 of the same vintage (circa 1974), though I also referenced a very old one which actually handles a little differently, in noting that there's almost no difference. They both have a slight twitch, which can be damped with a slight rudder pressure (about 1/4 ball worth), which I don't recall in the A-36 or Baron 58 (it's been a few years). The skeg some folks added under the tail supposedly eliminated that (on either model, I understand), though I never flew one with the skeg.
I have about 1,600 hours in a 1967 V-35. I could not tell any difference in the way it handled compared to airplanes with conventional tails. It slipped beautifully and I loved the crosswind capability.
Yeah, I also wonder how it slips. Is there a Stratton owner's community that can give you some insight? Just because its a V-tail doesn't make it that bad. Many of us have flown the Beech line. If you suddenly woke up at the controls of any one, you would be hard pressed to (quickly) say if its a 33,35 or 55.
Because your Stratton is a glider, I assume that you will spin it some time early on. I have not heard of anybody ever checking out in a glider without spinning it. Spins should give you some feel for slips in this ship..
There was one V-tail based at my home field that drew my attention. It was a twin engine conversion of the Beech 35 by WING. Same era as the Twin Navion and not to be confused with the BE-50 Twin Bonanza. Both called "Twin Bonanzas" but not at all similar. When you make a single into a twin, its fairly common to increase the rudder area or deflection to keep Vmc from getting too high. Not this one. I guess that it flew OK on the stock V-tail. My take is that the V-tail by itself is not a drawback. Remember, Beech made a few aerobatic V-tail Bonanzas. They are approved for maneuvers that are much more demanding than mere slips.
I have owned and flown 2 V-tails for say 500 hours and 100 hours respectively. My first V-Tail was a D-35 Bonanza rated at 225 HP. Many aircraft will weathercock into a strong crosswind, say on ice. The Bonanza does not. If anything it slightly turns away from the wind a bit, but for practical purposes it is neutral in a cross wind. I may have pushed it a bit but I flew off icy runways in a 25 knot crosswind. One winter was like that all winter, The long runway was north/south so I got plenty of practice.
Advice. The Bonanza would dutch roll much of the time but more in turbulence. I didn't mind but passengers did. Some got nauseous if I let it dutch roll. Some felt nauseous if I used the rudders to stop the roll. If you fly it alot you develop neural circuits to control the roll. I did not have a yaw damper, but many did and loved them. So Dutch roll is controlled by yaw.
There is a multiplying mechanism that controls the rudder and elevator inputs to the ruddervators. On the Bonanza it had quite a bit of range and authority. Still it really pays to know exactly what the drill is to stop incipient spin if you stall a V-tail. For most pilots you would never have reason to deliberately spin a Bonanza. Leave that to the test pilots. Really! If you stall a Bonanza, some pilots describe it as the sky is falling. It can really drop.
My other V-Tail was a Shreder HP-11 with Registration marks CF-RXX. It is still flying I believe. I had `16.5 meter wings and all the control surfaces were rather small. It took a few tries behing a tow plane to keep the wings level. I often had to release and start over. It also had 90 degree flaps, which IMHO were too much. I never extended them beyond 25 degrees for landing. maybe 10 degrees were used for takeoff.
The field I flew from was in the Sutton Mountains and it was mostly ridge lift. This is all a part of Appalachia. In ridge you might be just 200' above the ridge and very close to the stall speed. Some of the time you'd feel prestall buffet. It was like this: If you were dumped out of the ridge lift or a thermal for that matter one wing might fall and be stalled. Stall recovery was critical. The procedure is to have your toes lind of alive on the rudders. if a winbg drops you would bang on full opposite rudder in a fraction of a second or be in the rocks. Once rudder was full then you might drop the nose a little. If you lowered the nose before full rudder you are going to spin into the rocks. Why/ On the Bonanza the multiplying mechanism was vertical and could still apply a lot of rudder if you moved the elevators some. Not so the HP-11. The multiplying mechanism was under the seat,. It did not have the range of movement one would desire. So if you selected elevator up or down from neutral, you are not going to get full rudder, which full rudder you must have to soar near the stall.
I cannot say exactly what the rudder travel is or how it is affected by elevator movement, on your aircraft. But I can say that you must have it written into your feet and hands how to handle a stall or inciplient spin. -Neutral stick,- full opposite rudder, -Nose down just enough to get it flying again, - carefully remove the rudder pressure.
When it came time to install and rig the ruddervators, I would take whatever time necessary to get it right and to know exactly how much rudder travel was there when the stick is neutral, forward or aft. Your life of at least your bones might depend on this information, and its proper use.
Bob, are you sure that there are factory aerobatic approved Bonanzas that have V tails?
Beech made about 200 acro approved model F33C s , but these are straight tail ones, like the one Jim Peitz flew in airshows.
There are also non aerobatic F33 versions also.
Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 01-10-2014 at 11:13 AM.
The Davis DA-2A is a very successful and well-proven homebuilt with an all-flying V-tail, so the Davis community might be a good resource for you. Here are a few links and a video for you. That Budd Davisson pilot report is worth a read.
Matthew Long, Editor
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