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colojo 01-19-2021 11:20 AM

Anyone flying an RV taildragger with a fused ankle?
I had my ankle fused about 3 months ago and am well on my way to recovery. Last week I taxied my RV-8 around the ramp and did a run-up to see if I could flex the ankle enough to reliably steer and brake. I could, but not by much. I definitely don't feel confident enough to fly yet; I'm going to give my ankle another couple weeks or so to loosen up a little more before I try that.

My question is: Has anyone else here had ankle fusion surgery? Are you able to safely operate your taildragger, especially during landings? Thanks.

scootwoot 01-20-2021 11:32 AM

I would think differential braking would be tough with the standard pedals. I don't have your situation, so I can't state for fact. There are always solutions.


JIM_NORCAL 01-20-2021 01:07 PM

Fused Prosthetic ankle
I wear a prosthetic left leg below the knee. My knee is fine which is why I am quite ambulatory. The ankle has some flex but no control. I fly an RV-12 which while not a taildragger does use differential braking. I cut a 1/2" thick piece of wood the shape of the top (toe end) of my shoe and epoxied a couple of velcro straps to it with which I can strap it to the toe end of my shoe. In the air this does basically nothing as I can push the rudder with leg action just fine. On the ground I can apply the brake by holding the right rudder firm (no toe action) and pushing with my left leg which applies the brake because the wood block is contacting the top bar (brake). This works well enough that I can lock the left tire and pirouette around it. Actually, the last couple of flights with new shoes revealed that I should not use them for flying as the toe end is so flexible that it is hard to get real pressure with the right brake as the toe curls up and doesn't push firmly.

I have been checked out for tail draggers (Citabria) prior to having a motorcycle. Yes, I got hit hence the amputation. Anyway, a while back I did an upset recovery exercise in an instructor's Citabria. I didn't wear the wood device but I could take off and land keeping the plane straight without braking, as it should be. The instructor did the taxiing but I have no doubt that the same block or something similar would work in the Citabria.

PM if you want to discuss further.


Roadjunkie1 01-20-2021 02:49 PM

I have a friend that lost both feet in an accident and has two prosthetic feet from the ankles down. He flies a Hatz Biplane and doesn't seem to have much problem. If you didn't know he had prosthetics, you wouldn't be able to tell.

Your ankle will get more flexible the further you are out from surgery and you will also adapt to the "new you" down there. DO your physical therapy!!

Carlos151 01-20-2021 08:56 PM

+1 for PT
Had my left ankle rebuilt a few years back after taking the express route off a ladder. Took some time to get the flexibility back to operate the brakes but as previously mentioned, PT is the key. Do what they tell you and youíll get back to flying in short order. Took me 4 months after surgery and Iíd say motion was back to 95%. Took another year to get the last 5%.

colojo 01-20-2021 09:01 PM

Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm definitely doing my PT and the ankle is getting a little more flexible every day. Of course, it will never be as flexible as a normal ankle because it is fused, but I think I'll be back in the air soon.

wilddog 01-21-2021 06:15 AM

[quote=Roadjunkie1;1495993]I have a friend that lost both feet in an accident and has two prosthetic feet from the ankles down. He flies a Hatz Biplane and doesn't seem to have much problem.

Hatz built per plans uses heel brakes.

A6PILOT 01-21-2021 06:20 AM

I had my ankle fused a year and 3 months ago. The ankle wonít gain any flexibility because itís fused. The front part including the toes can move a little maybe 1/2 inch. Iíve been flying since 4 months after the operation. You will be able to fly and land without problems but I find I canít make any sharp turns in the direction of the bad ankle. I might try the wooden block recommended by one poster. Good luck and keep flying

jrs14855 01-21-2021 02:41 PM

douglas bader
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tracy 01-22-2021 06:59 AM

Just curious, why did you elect to a fusion instead of ankle replacement? They have come a long way in just the last 5 years on replacements.

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