Where to put the third wheel, front or back?

While I wait for some time to get back to the workshop I realise that I better start thinking about ordering the fuselage soon. I checked the Van’s Aircraft website and they quote 8 weeks from date of order for the fuselage. Add on to that the usual 6 weeks delivery time from Oregon, USA to Aylesbury, Engaland I realised that I better order soon.

I downloaded the order form and spotted a very important tick box.

The RV-7 has the third wheel at the back (AKA tail wheel) while the RV-7A has the wheel at the front. So the choice is that simple, it comes down to a tiny little tick box!

So I thought I’d muse on this blog about the pro’s and con’s of each. So here goes.

Nose wheel


  • No additional training required
  • Larger market of nose wheel pilots available for possible future sale
  • My kids can learn to fly in it more easily if they choose
  • Better visibility while taxying, take off & landing


  • Known to dig in to pot holes and cause the plane to flip over on its back (fixes are available)
  • More expensive to build
  • Less room in the cockpit as the landing gear protrudes slightly into the pilot & passenger leg area.

Tail Wheel


  • Approx. 3 knots faster
  • Needs less runway to take off/land
  • Looks better on the ground
  • Easier to load luggage


  • Liable to ground looping (like a car dough-nutting)
  • Requires training and currency
  • Less forgiving of lazy legs
  • Some airfields ban tail wheels from landing there

Final(ish) decision?

After much deliberation I finally decided to go with a tailwheel. I know I have never flown a tailwheel before. I know that it is difficult to find trainining centres locally but here is my logic:

  1. Converting the RV from a tailwheel to nosewheel is fairly easy. Mostly a change of engine mount. Probably 2-3 weeks work total.
  2. There is nowhere locally that I can hire a tailwheel to keep current.
  3. I will do my tailwheel conversion on my own RV.
  4. Because of no 2. above I don’t need to worry about keeping current on type as I can fly my own whenever I want.

So I will build a tailwheel and convert it to nose wheel if I really can’t get on with tail flying.

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