Hard braking for tailwheel

Aircraft: Luscombe 8E Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: Apex, N.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial

What reportedly happened: The pilot was conducting a full-stop landing. He executed a normal landing, lowered the tail and was rolling fast.

The airplane was on the center line with 300 to 400 feet of runway remaining. He stated he applied the brakes aggressively, which lifted the tail and caused the propeller to strike the ground. The airplane then flipped over and came to rest inverted, substantially damaging the vertical stabilizer and wings.

A post-accident examination revealed no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable cause: The pilot’s excessive application of the brakes, which caused the airplane to nose over.

NTSB Identification: ERA11CA281

This May 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. Vaughn S. Price says

    I have over 15000 hours, mostly tailwheel Aircraft. The safest and easiest way to land any tailwheel Aircraft except an empty Douglas DC-3 is full stall. In the post ww2 era we had a saying ” If you can’t land it Wheel It” the root cause of this flip was improper Instruction by the Instructor who checked the pilot out in a luscombe, I have many hours in Luscombes *-8-A, 8-E, and 8-F

  2. says

    Clearly this guy needs to go back to the beginners class. Go-around would have been cheaper, but there’s a technique to hard braking for advanced tailwheel pilots – the key is #1 directional control. But #2, which many people have not perfected, is hard braking early in the landing roll with full aft stick. When the momentum just begins to slow down, the brakes must be released at this point to let that tailwheel drop. If you hang on to that full brake the chance of going over increases with every second and once you’re going over the top, you’re done for. It’s a very interesting thing to practice and perfect, typically I’d only recommend it with large tires like 26″ Bushwheels as you’re less likely to drop into a hole and getting ‘rotation’ over the mains. Good luck and brake safely!

  3. John Drago says

    This 8-E must have had the Cleveland Brake STC as the Goodyear Brake Pucks in my old 8-A would always have trouble stopping it while I did a runup. Also, I am sure the accident pilot would like a mulligan and go around on the second try at a slower speed as a 300-400 remaining runway could have been enough to complete the landing when handled by someone experienced in a Luscombe. Glad the pilot injury was only minor and hope the Luscombe is repairable. What a great Airplane.

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