Are any tail wheels on small planes made of hard, rounded, plastic-like material?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Mar 23 at 2:11

You can see that sort of thing on ultralights that land at 25-30 mph where they may use a solid once-piece wheel made of some elastomeric plastic or rubber. Smaller airplanes however, will use a rubber tire on an aluminum wheel with proper bearings, due to the very high rolling RPM once you are landing above 40 mph (or at least a bushing that can take high speeds and loads).

The smallest ones usually have solid rubber tires and once you get to a certain size, say on airplanes over 1500 lbs or so, they will be pneumatic tires. For example, an Aeronca Champ usually has a solid rubber tailwheel, but it's heavier and faster Citabria descendant has a pneumatic tailwheel tire. You can browse typical tailwheel tires here.

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    $\begingroup$ $1,000+ for a solid rubby wheel on a caster. I should get into the niche aircraft parts business. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Mar 23 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ Once the part is "certified", triple the price. The extra money won't go in your pocket; it's eaten up in regulatory compliance costs. You will notice that the uncertified homebuilt tailwheels are far cheaper because there are no regulatory hoops. $\endgroup$ – John K Mar 23 at 18:54

Quite a few sailplanes (e.g. Schweizer 2-22, 2-33) are currently equipped with plastic skateboard wheels for tailwheels, even though that may not have been the part that was originally prescribed.


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