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T-tail Lance rigging discovery


New Member
Nov 14, 2022
Reaction score
Forest, VA
I love our 1979 T-Tail Lance II. I have flown it for 7 years now, and up until recently have always wondered why it would not rotate at the airspeeds indicated in the POH unless loaded with a rearward CG. I had asked around, and the “word” was that “those t-tail stabilators just lose authority at slow air speeds because they aren’t in the prop wash”, so I made the adjustment in my mind and just planned to rotate 5-10 it’s faster than the POH says to. I started training for my Commercial Rating in it and found that with two full sized people up front and 70 gals of gas onboard it would not perform a short field take off AT ALL!
After two aborted attempts, I took it to the shop and had the rigging checked. What we found was that the rigging had been set by aligning the stabilator using the fiberglass faring at the top of the T-Tail with neutral control. The correct neutral reference plane was actually the rails under the front seats! This had been effectively eliminated about 15 degrees of upward throw severely limiting upward pitch authority!
Once we re-rigged the stabilator properly, our wonderful T-Tail Lance II performed ALL maneuvers at the airspeeds listed in the POH.
She’s still a bit of nose heavy lady that’s meant to be loaded down in the back, but the handling improvement has been absolutely amazing!
If any of you T-Tail Lance Owners are experiencing similar Flight characteristics, do not just chalk it up to the idea many have that the T-Tail stabilators just lose authority at low airspeeds because “they are out of the prop wash”. Get the rigging checked and properly calibrated using the correct reference plane under the front seats!
Our shop was aghast at finding this error, and wondered out loud about how many other T-Tails are out there with the same issue. It seems to be a natural assumption that Piper would have made that faring the neutral reference plane, but it’s just not the case.
Happy Flying everyone!

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