What is your opinion of a v-tail airplane? They are supposed to reduce weight and drag yet they have been said to be unstable, and have crashed a lot (Bonanaza v-tail). Now with Cirrus offering a v-tail jet, it appears it hasn’t been givin’ up on.


See one persons view at history.nasa.gov/monograph12/ch15.htm

I like the last sentence of this author’s article, but the problem is that time heals all, and we do forget…



They’re ‘dead sexy’!


Well OF COURSE! They wear their wings low :smiley:


The safety record of the V-Tail bonanza is not due to the structure of the empennage, it’s due to the pilots. Specifically, I believe the safety record of the V-tail Bo is nearly identical to the straight-tail Bo. (speculation)

Aerodynamically, it makes sense. Why have three drag-inducing surfaces when you can have two?
The real problem with the V-tail Bonanza is the maintenance. It’s a bitch to work on, lots of cables and bellcranks that can wear and break in very inaccessible regions of the airplane.


how is the handling on a v-tail airplane and what is the difference in handling of the v-tail bonanza vs regular three surface bonanza? Is the unstable talk really an overstatement?


I agree and believe its much more a pilot/mx issue than a design flaw. I like the efficient design and they are beautiful. I want one!


… getting the ruddervators rigged just right can be a challenge for a mech who’s never messed with one before. A friend of mine would only take his to one guy if there were any controls to be worked on…


I only have a few hours in a V35B, but I don’t recall any significant difference between it and the F33A and A/B36 Bones that I have a couple hundred hours in… IMHO


Can’t the problem of stability be fixed with yaw dampers. I am sure Cirrus will figure out the v-tail. But imagine the combination of a v-tail and Cirrus pilots :blush: :blush: :blush: :blush: The insurance companies are going to go crazy.

I think we will see a few Cirrus jet crashes. :wink:


I have a 1965 S Model Bonanza. It is very fast (172Kt) and a very, very good flyer. The old girl is stable and forgiving and has never done anything unexpected.

The V Tail got a bad rap because the pilots of the time had little/no regard for remaining proficient in the airplane. Legal does not equal proficient.

Like any high performance airplane, if you point the nose down enough, a flight through redline is imminent. Solution? Dont point the nose down that much…

One of my favorite sayings “All airplanes bite fools.”


A friend of mine worked at an airport and he said that a Beechcraft Bonanza had actually broke off the V-Tail when they had come in to land. They stalled out and then the tail snapped off.


Often, when an airplane crashes, the tail “snaps off.”



The person that I talked to said that it snapped off before it even hit the ground. It made a crash landing though, it was close enough to the ground that no one was killed but 2 were injured.


I don’t know you, I don’t know who you heard this from… but I’m going to call “bullshit” on this one. I think this guy was pulling your leg.

If you still talk to this friend of yours, find out the registration. We’d be able to look it up on the NTSB website. Easier yet, just find out what airport he worked at, we can search for that too.


I’ll agree with the BS comment. Tail sections are designed to handle the bending/torsion from flight loads, but are relatively weak in the compression load induced in a crash. Very common for the tail section to crumple like a beer can in an accident.

If a structrual failure occured as described, it would have been part of an NTSB investigation and a well publicized AD.


I was just giving my input on what I heard. I also didn’t know if it was true so that is why I was putting it into this disscussion.


I’ll add to the BS on the tail coming off. For one thing, in a stall, the airplane would be going very slow without much in the way of ‘loads’. For the tail to come off because the guy stalled it out is pretty far out thinking…

As for the stability question, I have about 450 hours in V35’s, V35B’s, and F33’s. The only stability problem is possible ‘fishtailing’ in minor turbulence, which the front seat passengers won’t feel much but back seat passengers might. Since there is no vertical stabilzer, the airplane can yaw a little more easily than normal. But a little more care in flying it to prevent the yaw can help a lot… some people claim a little rudder trim and then holding opposite rudder keeps things straight but I have never tried it.

Other than that, I would say you could put a Bonanza pilot into either a straight tail or V tail without telling him/her and it would be hard to tell the difference just by flying it.


Maybe next time, check snopes.com :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


I suppose its possible, but not very likely, that he hit tail first and it ‘appeared’ as though the tail came off before he landed. But in that case, the angle of attack would have been very high and it could never be seen as a normal landing.