I was browsing images of aerobatic aircraft on Google and noticed that the vast majority of them have conventional "tail-dragger" landing gear.

Is there any practical reason why this is the case, or rather an aesthetic preference?

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    $\begingroup$ Don't have time for research atm, but my guess would be because a tricycle arrangement adds weight/shifts the CoG forward. an acrobatic airframe will most likely have a more powerful engine (read: bigger) already, and there might not actually be any room for a gear. Take the Mustang or Thunderbolt, their front ends were all engine and arms. I'm sure someone will post a correct answer, however. $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 23:51
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    $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell: Aerobatic aircraft mostly have fixed landing gears, so space is not an issue. But weight is most likely the correct reason. And drag, since they are fixed gears. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell 1 nose gear may not be able to support the larger engine? $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ The answer to your question is here. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ Pilots w/ large test****s and egos are prone to fly aerobatics and also are prone to fly the non-optimal configuration known as "conventional" or "tailwheel" landing gear. $\endgroup$ Commented May 7, 2022 at 21:12

4 Answers 4


The tailwheel is much lighter and smaller than a nose wheel. That means reducing airplane overall weight and drag (because the landing gear is usually fixed). And it's probably cheaper, too.


That’s an interesting question. We are students majoring in aeronautics at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. We’re not absolutely sure what the benefit of a taildragger is, but we have a few ideas.

Most aircraft have tricycle landing gear, probably because it’s easier to handle during take off and landing (it doesn’t matter in the air). It’s hard to maintain a straight line on the runway.

However, the taildragger offers one the opportunity to save some weight and to reduce drag. We haven’t seen any research about it, but it is obvious that you can save a little weight because nose gear would be heavier and produce more drag. The nose gear has to be more robust for hard landings.

Another point could be that you want to place a little more weight aft because the engine is one of the heaviest parts and it’s in the nose. You have to balance the weight of the aircraft with the engine to maintain the center of gravity.

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    $\begingroup$ A tricycle landing gear does matter in the air: Even retracted, when it does not contribute to drag directly, it adds considerably more mass. Aerobatic aircraft strive for the best thrust/weight ratio, so it does matter. A tricycle gear is only superior if a high wing loading means high landing speed and the requirement to brake the aircraft. Aerobatic aircraft don't need that. For them the taildragger is clearly the better choice. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 22:16

Taildraggers are lighter and help with saving weight. But the primary reason is because of their symmetrical airfoils. Aerobatic planes have symmetrical airfoils because it acts the same way inverted as it does regularly. This allows the pilot to do inverted flying easier. However, symmetrical airfoils don't actually produce any lift at at a 0-degree angle of attack (going straight into the wind). They need to have a positive angle of attack for this to occur. A taildragger accomplishes this by angling the whole fuselage and, in turn, the airfoil, so that it can still generate lift on takeoff.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation.se. This doesn't really seem to answer the question unless you have some evidence that taildragger aircraft are more likely to have symmetric airfoils, which I don't think is the case. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 7:07
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    $\begingroup$ Do you maybe have a source to support the takeoff claim? A normal tricycle landing gear can also produce the needed AOA during takeoff by rotating the aircraft around the pitch axis like in any normal tricycle landing gear takeoff. $\endgroup$
    – user33651
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 8:32

Fighter jets and related trainers outnumber (and outperform) light aerobatic aircraft, they all use tricycle gear.

Most aircraft were tail draggers until after WWII, so it's really an issue of the aircraft design dates to a period when everything had conventional gear. There are no particular advantages to it, but an airframe cannot be converted from one to the other (the balance would be off) so if you want a classic aerobat you also get the classic landing gear.

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    $\begingroup$ Zivko Edge 540 and Extra 300 are both new designs. Almost all aircraft had tricycle landing gear when they were designed. Yet they were designed as taildraggers. It is for a reason. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 4:49

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