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Thread: Toe brakes vs Heel brakes

  1. #1

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    Toe brakes vs Heel brakes

    Iím building a super cub. All my previous planes have had toe brakes, however none of them have been tail-draggers. I have very little tail wheel time, so Iím fine with learning either.

    What do do people find easier to learn and what is more ďusefulĒ once you gain more skill.

    Thanks as always!

    Chad
    Sorry for the dumb questions, I'm an FNG!

  2. #2
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    The people that learned on toe brakes love them. I am like you 16,000 plus hours on toe brakes. I hate them.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  3. #3

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    Toe brakes for me,,just got my Backcountry signed off yesterday and I wouldn't ever have heel brakes in a cub again

    Sent from my SM-G930V using SuperCub.Org mobile app

  4. #4
    SchulerJL's Avatar
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    Toe brakes seem totally unnatural to me. Heel brakes are almost unconscious in their use. Guess it depends on what you are used to .


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  5. #5
    RaisedByWolves's Avatar
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    I go back and forth between them and donít think twice.


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  6. #6

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    The nice thing about heel brakes is it removes temptation.

  7. #7
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    To do what?


    Quote Originally Posted by GeeBee View Post
    The nice thing about heel brakes is it removes temptation.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  8. #8
    TulBiplane's Avatar
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    I find that airplanes with “mass” (perhaps a Cessna 210) require braking after landing. If you don’t get on the brakes some, it will roll for miles. Whereas a 900 pound tail dragged is going to be nearly stopped when you touch down.

    And a Cub has a very responsive tailwheel. In short, you rarely touch the brakes (compared to other planes you may have been flying).
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  9. #9
    SJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Foy View Post
    To do what?
    To use the brakes instead of the rudders!

    I wish I could convert my C-180 to heel brakes!

    sj
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
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  10. #10
    TVATIVAK71's Avatar
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    I’m fairly new to heel brakes and Supercub flying in general. But I actually don’t mind them and it really didn’t take that long to get used to them. This is after thousands of hours in toe brake planes. I fly weekly in both a Cub and a C-140 and changing between the two is no big deal. The heel brakes will stay.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaisedByWolves View Post
    I go back and forth between them and don’t think twice.


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    Same here. I have toe brakes in the Actoduster and heel in the Spezio and will fly both in the same day......

    Of coarse I'm 99% on grass so I seldom use brakes except for run-up.

    Jack
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  12. #12
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Never had that problem with toe brakes in 45 years of flying. I learned heel brakes but prefer toe brakes. Happy that my 180 has them although I have to get used to them again. Different strokes for different folks.

    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post
    To use the brakes instead of the rudders!

    I wish I could convert my C-180 to heel brakes!

    sj
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  13. #13

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    Flying a stick with throttle in right hand feels weird. Flying an airplane from the right seat feels weird. Flying a helicopter from the left seat feels weird. Cub with toe brakes feels weird. Cessna with heel brakes would feel weird. For me it’s all about what I’ve been used to!
    Mark

  14. #14
    CubDriver218's Avatar
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    Who needs brakes? Brakes are the scariest aspect of flying for me
    Fast or slow, always low, freedom of flight soothes the soul.
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by SinCityJets View Post
    I’m building a super cub. All my previous planes have had toe brakes, however none of them have been tail-draggers. I have very little tail wheel time, so I’m fine with learning either.

    What do do people find easier to learn and what is more “useful” once you gain more skill.

    Thanks as always!

    Chad
    Exp Cub? Kit? What brakes come with it?
    Last edited by stewartb; 03-21-2018 at 05:44 AM.

  16. #16

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    Like Eddie I have thosands of hours with toe brakes, and prefer heel brakes for the Cub. My Decathlon has toe brakes, but it is not designed for landings - it is an aerobatics trainer. I go back and forth without thought.

    It wasn't always that way - after maybe 15,000 hours with toe brakes and only a mere 5000 with heel, I was digging my heels in the floorboards to stop the Dec.

    A Cub probably should have heel brakes. Lighter, less prone to hitting the firewall or the front seat belt, and best of all, that light touch on the rudder pedals that makes coordinated maneuvering an art form. Try a Tango Cub. You will instantly be converted to heel brakes!

    Opinion.

  17. #17

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    Heel brakes are easier when you are in bunny/hunting/stiff boots. So if you are going to be doing cold weather/remote flying something to consider. Also I see some cubs without rear stick/brakes. Might get hard to find a CFI that will do tailwheel/Bi-annual training keep that in mind when building. If you plan to go off runway in short rough strips you will use your brakes every landing. I learned with toe brakes and they work fine you just have to be very careful with big footwear or you will apply brake every time you push the rudder. From a resale or letting other pilots up front standpoint I would go with heel brakes. If you do go with toe brakes make sure you have both max rudder travel with max brake travel combined when you set them up so you do not hit the firewall. If the rudder mounts are already on the frame they may have to be moved with toe brakes.
    DENNY
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  18. #18
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Scenario: Your airplane swerves left, you apply right rudder to stop the swerve. Then, lots of rudder. But it’s not enough, so now you need brake. Where is that heel brake? Taking your foot off that rudder pedal to reach the brake isn’t the best.....but with heel brakes, it’s what you’ve got.

    Personally, either heel brakes or toe brakes require some training and discipline. With heel brakes, you need to be able to find them, sometimes fairly fast......not that tough, but an acquired skill.

    With toe brakes, you have to learn to land with your heels on the floor, and just your tippy toes on the base of those pedals, or someday, you’ll push on a pedal, trying for rudder and get a bunch of brake.

    The key to either is figuring those issues out. Once you do that, they’re both easy enough to master.

    And, recently, a gent I was flying with reminded me of the perils of toe brakes and big feet. No harm, I screamed “Off the brakes!” Rather loudly, actually.

    Pick one and learn its quirks. They’re both good systems....When set up right......

    MTV
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  19. #19
    texmex's Avatar
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    I like the heal brakes.

    But I don't mind either. I probably had 10k hours when I first flew with them. Unfortunately almost an other 10 since then.

    I agree with DENNY's point about clod hopping boots. Heel brakes then.

    Either are fine.

  20. #20
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Heel brakes: If the plane slows too quickly on the ground the foot is forced forward via momentum. To un-connect the heel from the brake pedals takes lots of muscle power and memory to pull the legs back and the heel off. Rudder control may be compromised unless the toes are pushed forward.

    Toe brakes: Same scenario re momentum but a set of smaller muscles on the forelegs can rotate the toes rearward while leaving the feet on the rudder pedals and the heels on the floor. Rudder control may be maintained.

    My experience only.

    Gary

  21. #21
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Chad, The first question that needs to be answered is, do you have long or short legs? If they are long like mine there will not be enough room to install toe brakes. I had to move the seat back an extra inch, remove the rear stick and still wish that I had a little more leg room. Toe brakes take up a couple of inches of leg room.
    N1PA

  22. #22
    Richgj3's Avatar
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    What are you building? I recall your last query was about whether to buy CC or Legend.

    Are you building one of their kits or one from someone else?

    Rich
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  23. #23
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Foy View Post
    The people that learned on toe brakes love them. I am like you 16,000 plus hours on toe brakes. I hate them.
    He slept through most of those hours and you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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  24. #24
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    I learned to fly in a PA16 Clipper with toe brakes and never had an issue with them. Started flying a 90 hp Super Cub and it was different but became second nature really quick. I go back and forth between the two airplanes with no issues. I prefer the heel brakes in a Super Cub having flown Huskys, Carbon Cubs and the X Cub.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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  25. #25
    Richgj3's Avatar
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    It shouldn’t matter. It’s like having a discussion about what’s better, a stick or a wheel. For many years a friend and I ferried his Super Cub (heel brakes) and his Stearman (toe brakes) from Long Island to Florida in the fall and back in the spring. At every fuel stop we would swap airplanes. Neither of us ever thought about it.

    Rich

  26. #26

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    After almost 25,000 hrs with toe brakes, when (late in my Aviation life) I finally learned (and still learning) to fly a tail dragger, heel brakes gave e a little problem at first. I got accustomed to them very fast and wouldn’t want to switch them out for toe brakes. Like one person said, they can remove the temptation to do something you really don’t want to do. It’s strictly a matter of preference. Besides, it’s a Cub, you won’t need a lot of brakes normally.
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  27. #27
    SJ's Avatar
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    Speaking of heel brakes, while in San Diego over the weekend I got to scare Bob Turner from the back seat of one of his J3's. Great fun! Bob is a consummate aviator and instructor (as we know from his many wise posts here).

    If you are anywhere near KMYF look him up, or rather, just look up - as he is probably already in the pattern!

    Yes, I am prepared for comments about my hat.

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    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------
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  28. #28
    jnorris's Avatar
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    In a Cub, heel brakes for me. It just feels natural in a Cub. I have never had any problem finding the brake pedal when I really needed it. And there is virtually no possibility of accidentally touching down with brakes applied. (This can and has happened in airplanes with toe brakes.) And the installation is lighter and simpler to boot. Heel brakes would be my choice.
    Joe

    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat

  29. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post

    Yes, I am prepared for comments about my hat.

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    At least yours fits.
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  30. #30
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    I never know where my feet are with heel brakes, they just naturally go to the correct place. I always know where my feet are when landing with toe brakes. The best rudder pedal and toe brake setup is on a Stearman

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"

  31. #31
    hotrod180's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    .... Try a Tango Cub. You will instantly be converted to heel brakes! Opinion.
    A friend of mine has owned a Tango Cub for several years.
    More recently, he and another friend (a Husky owner) had a Supercub built up for them--
    with toe brakes.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

  32. #32

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    I agree - the Stearman pedals are well set up. But you can easily have a little brake on touchdown if you do not move your toesies down, like MTV says.

    I have had a student touch down with brakes locked in a heel brake J-4. You should hear how loud I can get: "no brakes! NO BRAKES!" More deadly is when they jump full force on them at low speed. Then nothing saves you.

  33. #33
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hotrod180 View Post
    A friend of mine has owned a Tango Cub for several years.
    More recently, he and another friend (a Husky owner) had a Supercub built up for them--
    with toe brakes.
    Good ay to limit your market when you go to sell in my opinion.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers

  34. #34
    Cub junkie's Avatar
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    What ever you draw cowboy, get in and fly it. How many bull riders show up at the rodeo and get their choice? What ever they draw is what they ride. Heel brakes, toe brakes or no brakes..its all good.

  35. #35

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    I prefer heel brakes in a cub. Less likely to inadvertantly get on the brakes by mistake. I have toe brakes in the Bonanza and love them. I guess it's all about what you're used to. I go back and forth between the two. Somehow I never have to think about whether I'm in the airplane with toe or heel brakes. Practice, practice, practice. What mvivsion said: "With toe brakes, you have to learn to land with your heels on the floor, and just your tippy toes on the base of those pedals, or someday, you’ll push on a pedal, trying for rudder and get a bunch of brake."

    The key to either is figuring those issues out. Once you do that, they’re both easy enough to master.

  36. #36
    Rob's Avatar
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    Maybe it's just me, but I find that if you learn to fly toe brakes as MTV suggests, and I do (well actually i typically just rest my big toe on the rudder pedals) then your heel ends up pretty much where it would be to use heel brakes. So in all reality, the difference between flying one or the other is just flexing a little different... I would think this an even smaller difference than going form stick to yoke, or SxS to tandem.... I really wouldn't over think this, and if you are building from a kit, build it as it was designed, if building from scratch and cloning a cub, then clone it.

    Take care, Rob
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  37. #37
    Rob's Avatar
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    So as I re read my post it occurred to me that a near and dear friend is probably going to read it, and get a good chuckle about my duck footed big toe steering.... I'm only human, and a fairly transparent one at that, so I guess I can probably bare my soul here, after all, there are only a small handful of folks here that could even point me out in a crowd.

    The story started when I decided the it was time to move the little Taylorcraft we bought our son to build time in...

    I don't have a lot of time in this little bird, in fact it seems like the only time I do get to fly it is when it has to be moved from one hangar to another, it's also probably worth mentioning, that since we were selling the old girl, we decided to freshen up the annual, and went ahead and installed new lifetime univair struts. And so, a couple weeks ago I pushed it out of the barn, and decided to make one last lap around our valley in the old girl. My wife hopped in the right side, and after a quick walk around, start and warm up, we were puttering our way up the valley. I remember thinking how weird it was to be in a SxS airplane that was almost exactly as wide in the cockpit as my single seat work airplane...

    Our near and dear friends have been staying at one of our hangars at the east end of the valley, and keep a couple cubs there, so off we went to visit them.

    Much to our dismay, they were no where to be seen as we neared the hangar. They have been interested in a piece of property in the middle of the valley with an airstrip, and I suspected they may have been over there looking things over, so I decided to head on over and have a look. Rolling it over to the right... well trying to roll it over to the right, things got really weird. Really, really weird. I mean she rolled just peachy, but I'll be damned if the tail didn't try to swing under us. Eww... nauseous ... lets try that again.... Hmm the wings roll, but why is the tail trying to beat us into the turn...

    My wife has done this passenger thing for a lotta years now. So right away when the tail is trying to turn ahead of the rest of us she pipes up 'does this thing alway turn like that' Well...not being one to like to force an airplane to do things. I had let up, and we still hadn't actually turned. So again I roll, this time jabbing a little at the rudder... no pretty much stomping...

    Hmm... Well, we are just under the shadow of the Mohawk mountains, so trying to satisfy my wife's curiosity, while not alarming her, and still trying to honestly wrap my own head about what was happening, I just murmered some gibberish about the wind rolling down the cool mountain pushing us along.... Ya ... no.... she wasn't buying that at all.... right away she pipes up again, do you think some cables got crossed when you guys put the new struts on... Damn... I had no idea she even knew what struts where?

    So over the seat I bend, peering down the tail of the Tcraft (no headliner to block the view) I can almost see clear to the tail post, and nearest I can tell everything looks normal. meanwhile I've been tooling along, jabbing the rudders looking back into a dark hole, and doing pretty much all the prerequisites to a good puke..Next I peer out the door, almost counting the strands in the cables looking for a problem to lash out at me... no dice....

    Enough of this, we are running out of valley and I am one twitch away from puking, so I try a roll to the left, and low and behold, she rolls left like a jewel ... W, T, eff.... another try to the right, ewww... don't do that... roll left huh? ... about the third one of these and I can clearly see that my wife is unamused, and not buying my 'nothings wrong honey' gibberish... so I slide off left and decide to take it back to the ranch ... maybe one cable got hung up when we did the struts? I dunno... what I do know is she flies just fine, and turns left like she on rails... right turns are a little lacking... well ok a LOT lacking... pretty much just rolls right and track like she wants you to puke.

    Doing the mental gymnastics required to decide which way the direct crosswind is going to be the least painful with only one cooperating rudder goes fairly quick, the ranch comes up under the nose and any notion of urgency subsides as I come to the conclusion that this really isn't an emergent situation, just an annoyance on our sunday morning magic carpet ride... Ya right...

    Never the less, I was reasonably relaxed, this is just a Taylorcraft after all.... and do a quick flow as I set up to land... as I look over the fuel, I can see my legs (feet) duck footed as ever, big toes on the rudder petals... Now it's important to remember I do about 1200 hrs a year in an airplane that has rudder petals set about 4 feet apart, and on this morning, I had just wrapped up fooling with the mules, so I had those big square toed muck boots on... (excuses... excuses...) Soo.. Glancing down towards the fuel again I could actually see what my feet were doing, and low and behold my right big toe was indeed on the right rudder pedal just fine, but the entire rest of that foot was on the passengers LEFT rudder pedal for all intents and purposes the little Tcart had two left rudder pedals from the moment I relaxed after we departed.... I laughed so hard I had to go around, and pretty much came as close as I ever have to peeing myself... Dog gone, I'm stooopid.... Unfortunately there was no passing off the magic solution to my wife... so who knows how long that will hang over my head

    Toe brakes vs Heel brakes? man... life's wayyy to good to worry to much over that one...

    Take care, Rob
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  38. #38
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Thatís a perfect story for this morning. Thanks Rob. You wont live that one down. Lol


    Transmitted from my FlightPhone

  39. #39
    gdafoe's Avatar
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    I read that story in the middle of the night and could not go back to sleep. That is a good one!
    "there are only a small handful of folks here that could even point me out in a crowd."
    I could and maybe would under the right conditions, well you might be a "little" hard to find in a crowd, Rob
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  40. #40
    spinner2's Avatar
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post
    Speaking of heel brakes, while in San Diego over the weekend I got to scare Bob Turner from the back seat of one of his J3's. Great fun! Bob is a consummate aviator and instructor (as we know from his many wise posts here).

    If you are anywhere near KMYF look him up, or rather, just look up - as he is probably already in the pattern!

    Yes, I am prepared for comments about my hat.

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    So who was the student?

    For me it is much easier to separate rudder and brake action with heel brakes. I've gotten used to my toe brakes now in my EX and can live with them. But my preference is heel brakes. And I use the brakes for 99% of my landings.
    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp
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