What is the 'perfect landing' in a tail-dragger? Do you try to float down to a main-gear landing at minimal descent speed, or do you attempt to float to the point where your tail will either start to come down, or does come down? In other words, is a two-point touchdown or a three-point touchdown more 'perfect.'?

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    $\begingroup$ I believe it differs from plane to plane. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    May 26, 2014 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ Good piloting, good weather, and good luck. $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Feb 28, 2021 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


They both have their uses.

A wheel landing (landing on the mains, keeping the tail in the air) gives you better rudder authority on the ground, which is useful in a crosswind or during touch-and-gos. However, there is a point where as your airspeed slows, your rudder authority falls off quickly. This can be dangerous in a crosswind for obvious reasons. Most pilots avoid this condition by keeping the tail up for as long as they can, then quickly planting it on the ground when it begins to fall. The rudder is kept up in the airstream for as long as possible, and then you quickly transfer your turning control from the rudder to the tailwheel.

A three-point landing is useful for getting on the ground and stopping quickly, because the additional wheel provides more friction. It also avoids the situation in the previous paragraph, because you land with the tailwheel down and have full turning authority the entire time.

So in general, there is no preferred landing style in a tailwheel airplane. This may not be true for specific models of aircraft, however.


You can make a perfect "wheelie" landing, depending on the wind and landing runway direction.
In a crosswind, it is safer to land on the main gear with the one windward wheel (wing low), or both main wheels, thus permitting better rudder control until the tail wheel makes ground contact as speed slows. In a crosswind the landing phase is done with a combo of wing low and/or crabbed into the wind.
Wind and aircraft load conditions dictate if you can manage a perfect 3 pointer called a "full stall landing"..the aim is to hold it off until the aircraft stalls an inch or so above terrain. By the way, an aircraft can fly in ground effect BELOW its stall speed.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation.SE! Your answer looks fine, but please consider improving the terminology (X wind -> crosswind, combo, a/c). $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    May 27, 2014 at 8:19

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