Taildraggers were all you could get in the early years of flying. Then
came an idea on how to reduce ground loops, increase visibility on the runway,
and provide more stability in cross wind landings.
Thus, the tricycle gear aircraft was born.
Cessna, the largest aircraft manufacturer, produced several models of tailwheel aircraft, has produced the Cessna 120/140, Cessna 170, Cessna 180/185, and the older Cessna 190/195’s as factory built tailwheel aircraft.
There are STC’s that allow tailwheel conversions for the most popular Cessna tricycle trainers, the Cessna 150/152, 172, and 182 back into a tailwheel configuration. The Cessna 150 taildragger with a 150 Hp engine makes an excellent tow aircraft.
These days, most students get their Private ratings in nose wheel Tricycle gear aircraft, It’ easy to look over the nose rather than around it, and steer it from the front as the nose wheel turns in the direction you want, like a car’s front tires. Also it’s less likely to nose over if brakes are applied too strongly, and easier to land in a crosswind. It’s great for first time pilots, especially as respects landing.
Taildragger aircraft open up more options for pilots who want to fly off-pavement. In the Taildragger, you steer it from the rear, so to make a right turn you push the right rudder which moves the tail to the left, thereby turning the aircraft to the right. The prop ground clearance is also higher, and less likely for prop strikes and rock damage on dirt runways. However, with the nose sloping up, forward visibility is somewhat restricted. Tailwheel aircraft are generally better if you land off airport or on very rough surfaces, and they turn in tighter circles.
Some disadvantages are, that you will need a tailwheel endorsement unless you’re grandfathered in. These aircraft take a lot more practice to learn to get the routine down and feel confident. Every landing in a tailwheel aircraft can be an event if you’re not ahead of the aircraft.
You can’t have that moment of inattention on landings, because a ground loop (a consistent problem and most common form of loss), or nose over is always lurking. Tricycle gear aircraft tend to always correct themselves on the runway,
Most of your bush planes are tailwheel types, such as the Piper Pa18’s, Pacers, many Cessna’s, Citabria’s, Vans, Husky’s, Beaver’s, Maule’s and many more. Training with tailwheel aircraft will improve your landing technique and make for a safer and more confident pilot.