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Thread: PA-12 as tailwheel trainer?

  1. #1

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    PA-12 as tailwheel trainer?

    Hi all, new member here. I've been looking at various tailwheels (I've always been interested in Super Cubs but not ready for one yet), from J3s to Champs to Citabria...I've got a couple of hours in a Citabria but I digress... I am looking to purchase a tailwheel to build time and develop skills with. I'm in the Pacific Northwest. I was looking pretty hard at J3 cubs just because they are common and relatively easy to fly, slow, etc. But the PA-12 has me really thinking. I like that you solo from the front seat, I've read a lot of good things about them. I'm just curious if you would all recommend it as a good first tailwheel to own, learn and build time in. I know the O-235 is standard but I'd like to maybe find something with a little more power, ideally -- but not 180. Anyway, curious to hear your thoughts -- I think I know the answer but wanted to ask you all who have experience with them. Also, if anyone has a nice plane they want to sell, I am perhaps in the market!

  2. #2

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    PA12 is a great plane...150 hp versions are nice, but don’t overlook a 12 equipped with a 0-235...A J5 is a nice flying plane as well and is essentially a early version 12...good luck!
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  3. #3
    supercrow's Avatar
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    A friend of mine, (Ranger Rob) on this site recently soloed his P-12 as a new flyer. His is a 150 with an 82-41 prop and flaps. A nice ship and he is doing a great job with it. Maybe he will chime in here.

  4. #4
    Richgj3's Avatar
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    I first flew a PA12 in 1968. I had about 70 hrs TT and a couple in a J3. Didn’t need a TW endorsement back then. I was helping a banner tow guy set and retrieve banners and he let me fly his stock PA12 during the week as a thank you......no pay

    50 years later after not flying one since then, I gave a new PA12 owner his TW endorsement in his stock PA12. I now have 4000+ hrs in taildraggers. It was just as docile as I remembered. I highly recommend it.

    Rich
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  5. #5
    nanook's Avatar
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    As an owner of an adjustable pilot seat in a PA-18, I found the fixed pilot seat in the PA-12 to be too far forward...if you are a shorter person it may not be an issue. Otherwise, if fit is not an issue, the 12 is a very nice flying Piper.

  6. #6
    SJ's Avatar
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    I was just in the back of a 12 yesterday. Some of the rear seats are very low, so as a trainer, it can be challenging for the instructor if you are not tall in the torso like me. You may need to sit on a cushion or two. If a flapless 12, the slightly nose high approach angle does not leave you much to see in the back. Not a big deal compared to Stearmans, etc, but just a consideration.

    sj
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------

  7. #7

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    Spent quite a few hours in a PA-12 banner towing. Nice airplane and you really can't go wrong with any of the Piper tailwheel airplanes. Like almost everything, define the mission, and select the airplane based on that mission. J3, J4, J5, PA-11, PA-12, PA-14 (if you can find one), PA-15, PA16, PA-17, PA-18, PA20 or PA-22 converted to tailwheel all are good choices. Each has a slightly different role. With any of the low HP versions, empty weight should be your biggest factor in deciding. There are a lot of very nice looking J3s, J4s, and others, but when you look at the numbers, they are only legal one place airplanes.
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  8. #8
    Cranman
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    Check with Chuck Kinberger of Southern Cubs in Jupiter, FL. He has our PA-12 listed. Nice flying airplane. pa11890ck@gmail.com
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again.

  9. #9

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    Thanks for chiming in - sounds like this is the path I'll take. Now I just have to find the right plane!
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  10. #10

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    Building time and instructing? A J3 is better, and at this point a more economical choice.
    Instructing in the 12 is ok, but you don't have great views of the countryside back in that hole. And if you really don't like the idea of flying a J3 from the back, remember that most can be flown from the front.

    And Dave is right - a lot of folks love to put Cubs on scales to see what they really weigh empty. When they do that, they convert an excellent trainer into a single place aircraft. Look for 760# or less empty weight.
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  11. #11
    hotrod180's Avatar
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    My impression is that the OP is looking for an airplane to hone his taildragger skills in,
    not to give flight instruction in. ?
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

  12. #12
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    A Piper taildragger of any sort but the PA-18 makes an excellent affordable trainer. The PA-12 is no exception. Can't go wrong with one and as an investment they will probably start catching up with the -18 in the future and super cubs become less affordable.

    Also consider the J5 which as mentioned is a PA-12 but with factory -18 style gear and higher angle of incidence. The J5C model with 1500lb gross and O-290 is a great buy for a performer on a small amount of money.

    I'm also partial to the J3 or PA-11 as a trainer since they are so docile. Bob is right, they are more economical both to buy and to put gas in and have been used as trainers for a very long time. Also in terms of value these are a really good investment as they have the classic cub profile that will always bring money from cub collectors. Don't get hung up on solo from the front seat. You will find on the small engine cubs that the rear seat is far more comfortable and everything in a tandem cub was built to reach from the back seat.
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  13. #13
    Charlie Longley's Avatar
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    A PA-12 is a good choice. I’ve owned 4 of them over the years. CFI’s find the back seat a little challenging. I put an all glass door on my last 12 and that helped a lot. The mods I like are 150 hp engine, double pulley trim, adjustable seat, Super Cub gear and tail feathers. Look at the door frame for corrosion along with the lower longerons. Shoot me a PM and I’ll give you some advice. I fly out of Arlington, WA.
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  14. #14

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    This is correct, thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by hotrod180 View Post
    My impression is that the OP is looking for an airplane to hone his taildragger skills in,
    not to give flight instruction in. ?

  15. #15
    Alex Clark's Avatar
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    I like the extra width of a 12, but crawling into the front seat is difficult for me these days.
    This is the instructors view from the back seat. It is easier to see around the front pilot.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Float and Tailwheel CFI,
    Dragonfly Aero
    Homer, Alaska
    dragonfly@alaska.net

    http://www.floatplanealaska.com

    or http://www.dragonflyaero.net
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  16. #16

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    I have a pa 12 now and just soloed in it. When it came off floats for the first time in decades I installed an AOSS instead of hydrosorbs my first landing on wheels I was sure I did the right thing. A great plane no complaints. Mine has flaps.

  17. #17
    Kodiakmack's Avatar
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    I'm really happy with my -12 that I bought last fall. I'd agree with all of the pro's and con's mentioned here. I feel like the -12 is a great value compared to the -18 up until you need to do hardcore off airport stuff. I use mine for light to moderate backcountry, touring the local lunch spots, giving a little instruction, and a small amount of longer cross country. I'm tickled with it for all these things so far. The only thing that nags at me is the age of the airframe.
    HAVE FUN. DON'T DIE.
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  18. #18

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    Good choice, 3 to 4 inches of foam a must in the back for instruction. 108hp version is super gentle. you will love it.

  19. #19
    Taledrger's Avatar
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    If your not ready to deplete resources for an -18 right now, the -12 is great alternative.. if i were just banging around, mostly alone, I would have a 85-90hp J3.. move up later.. err.. never
    Bob D

  20. #20

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    A 15" or so boat flotation seat pad works great for lift in the rear seat, either for an instructor or a height challenged pax.
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  21. #21

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    I am spoiled in having both a J-3 with a 90 hp engine and a much modified J-5 which is essentially a lower gross 12 at this stage with 160 hp, 18 tail feathers, transparent door and no flaps. I tend to fly them both on the weekend. Both are great but people in the back of the 5 cannot really see the instruments even with a booster cushion. The 3 is better in that respect but they are both delightful to fly - the 5 is better for going places.


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  22. #22

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    A 12’s empty weight is critical in determining its utility. Stay away from any that weighs more than 1220 lbs on wheels.
    It doesn’t do much good to have 60 gallon fuel tanks if you can’t fill them up and fly legally with just a small child in the back.

    Empty weight is everything on a 12. Find an original with an O-235 under 1100 lbs and you’ll be golden. Good luck with all your endeavors.
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  23. #23

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    If you want to develop tailwheel skills and have a plane that can carry full fuel and a load look at a Pacer. Bang for the buck one of the best trainers around. Great tailwheel aircraft that do not tolerate sloppy footwork!! This is not a plane for a lazy pilot, if you want to go the easy road find something else.
    DENNY
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