It’s a taildragger, it features tandem seating, and on a good day, it’ll do 100 knots: it’s the American Champion Citabria Explorer!
I’m David Allen, and I’m about to take you into the cockpit … of Other People’s Airplanes!
This is part two of the flight with Jared in the Citabria. You can check out part one here.
For this episode, we returned to Melbourne International Airport for a touch-and-go followed by a full-stop landing before putting the plane away in the hangar.
On the first approach, we were a little high. So once we were established on final approach, we used a technique known as “slipping” to lose altitude quickly. Typically, when you put an airplane into a decent, you gain airspeed. However, since we are trying to land, we do not want to gain speed. Slipping basically causes the airplane to fly through the air at an angle, as opposed to straight. This slight angle causes a bunch of drag (from the oncoming wind) on the airframe, which then allows you to decent rapidly without gaining airspeed.
It only took a couple of seconds of slip to drop quickly. Once we were at the proper altitude to intercept the approach glideslope, we straightened the airplane out and prepared to set it down on the runway. There’s a lot going on, so I was pretty busy.
One thing that really caught me off guard at touchdown was that, on a wheel landing (e.g. touching down on only the front “main” wheels and leaving the tailwheel in the air) you push the stick fully forward after you touch down to help keep the tail off the ground longer. To me, this was very counter-intuitive. I was worried about forcing the propeller into the runway, but evidently there’s little possibility of that.
Once the tailwheel settles gently onto the runway, then the stick comes all the way back into your lap to help keep the tail down.
We took off and flew the whole pattern before settling in for the full-stop landing and putting the airplane away in the hangar.