News

Rob's Tailwheel Training Experience

Discussion in 'AviatorChat.com' started by rob lay, Sep 26, 2007.

  1. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 1
    Date: September 26th, 2007
    Hours: 0.9
    Total Hours To Date: 0.9
    Summary: preflight, taxi, flight maneuvers

    We started off with a little ground school discussing how the tailwheel is different, but mostly talked about the Citabria. How it handles different from the Skyhawk, rotation speed, climb out, approach speed, and etc. We then went out and Gilbert took me through the preflight for the Citabria, basically same as the Skyhawk except ladder required for checking fuel tanks. Took me through startup, which was also similar to Skyhawk. I did taxi out which seemed only mental key was to keep stick back. Maneuvering was much easier as tail would come around easier on a point. Maintaining straight line seemed like just rudder didn’t do much, like I had to get on toes (brakes) a little. Is the tailwheel steerable on Citabria? Gilbert took me through checklist and I got us on the runway, I had feet and hands on through takeoff, but Gilbert mostly in control. I took over on climb out and we headed to practice area.

    Started with just trimming plane out for cruise, then some easy swaying turns. Much harder to keep on the ball in the Citabria. I really think it will force me to start feeling the ball more, because I don’t think I can keep up by watching it. Is this what y’all mean by making me a better pilot? :) After turns did slow flight, power off stalls, power on stalls, and steep turns. Wasn’t expecting it, but we also did several spins. I had done spin training in the Decathalon, I actually liked doing these again. We pointed back to Northwest while working on slipping both directions. Did a slip dropping about 800 feet. I did radio and took us to the numbers in downwind.

    Gilbert first demonstrated a 3 point landing. Turned back over to me for climb out and then I did most of the next approach. I wasn’t slipping as much as he wanted, so he forced the stick and rudder over that much more, which I’m not comfortable with at 300 ft. Coming out of the slip 100 ft. I like how plane reacts, but seemed like I was snaking it, I think because of overcorrection. Gilbert talked me through it and he came on the controls more and more for a touch a go. Last landing was for full stop and Gilbert demonstrated a wheel landing.

    It was fun, I love the feel of the stick. The Decathlon is much more a performer, but the Citabria is a plane you could have a ton of fun with too. Good first lesson, I still want to perfect some of those flight maneuvers and for how much the plane moves close to and on the ground, I see now why you need so many hours for tailwheel. Next lesson we go over to Alliance and work on controlling the plane down low and I guess maybe some touch downs.

    Marcair is running many students through tailwheel now. Didn’t even know it, but they’ve come up with a nice booklet and curriculum. I’m going to enjoy this. Thanks everyone for the recommendation to get my tailwheel.
     
  2. To remove this ad click here.

  3. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
    10,213
    San Antonio
    Full Name:
    Russ Turner
    These airplanes are truly a blast to fly.
    and once you routinely start flying off of grass you'll really be hooked.

    Even the great grandaddy ofthe Decathalon, the Aeronca Champ with 65 hp, can proviemore smiles per dollar than any sports car.

    It's just going to keep getting better --have fun!!!!
     
  4. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
    Consultant

    Nov 29, 2003
    7,087
    Shoreline,Washington
    Full Name:
    Robert Parks
    Russ, you couldn't have said that better. I have had more fun in the tail draggers than anything else. That's all there was when I was learning and I didn't know it then but I was getting what I think was full training....the use of everything, eyes, hands, and feet all together. I just about went nuts doing rudder execise stalls that sometimes developed into spins when I wasn't quick enough with the rudder but once I got with it I could walk the airplane down from a full stick hard back power on stall and let climb back into another one without releasing back pressure. I have never had any problem with a tail dragger on landing and that includes Stearmans in a crosswind ( that required a lot of upwind aileron and rudder). I believe that the rudder exercise stalls were one of the most important lessons that I recieved along with rolling on a point, steep turns from one direction to another with the ball centered, and precision spins. All were done before solo.
    Having flown the Cub , the T-Craft, and the Champ, I think that the Cub was the best of all of them for the postive response of all controls and the requirement to use all of them in concert.The Super Cub was the most fun of all.....a great airplane.
    I flew a BT-13 once and I didn't like it....but that's me, I guess.
    Switches
     
  5. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 2
    Date: October 2nd, 2007
    Hours: 1.1
    Total Hours To Date: 2.0
    Summary: take off, runway centering, 3 wheel landings

    Wind wasn't looking great, up to 22 kt. gusts and sometimes 50 degree cross. Sounded like dispatcher was going to cancel it for me and I signed up for Skyhawk to fly anyway. When I got there I was giving Charlie the chief pilot and my planned instructor for the day a hard time about "F-15 pilot afraid of a little wind". He came back that he thought I wasn't comfortable with it and I said I was comfortable if he was. By then winds were down to 16 kt. gusts and only up to 20 degrees cross.

    We taxied out to gas and I filled a Citabria up for the first time. Easy, just takes a ladder. With 2 adults we can only put about 25 gallons it in, but that's more than enough. Plan was no local practice, just straight to Alliance for some low flybys first working on drifting and nose alignment and then some 3 wheel landings. Taxi up and run-up were fine. I said OK, now you have the controls, but he wouldn't accept them, wanted me to try the takeoff. Lined it up and just don't have any feel yet for rudder input, how quick on the throttle, and then getting the tailwheel up. We were doing the dance pretty good, but he was heavy on the controls and once in the air then I was fine.

    The Citabria has a great feel in the air, it’s just that ground stuff that has me humbled right now. Radios were really garbled compared to the new Skyhawks. I'm only hearing in one ear and talk is very faint and garbled. I played around with volume and squelch, but nothing was helping. So I struggled through and was talking to Alliance while the instructor gave me instructions. ATC had us do dome 360's and out fairly far for straight in on 16L.

    First approach was instructed to start about 80 mph and then shoot for about 65 mph over the runway and just hold down the center above the runway. We did this the length of the runway doing the aileron drifting and rudder pointing drill. We did this a second time and I did a good job keeping it straight. Third approach we started like this and Charlie told me to slowly take power out and bring back the stick. At some point after snaking around center line and some little balloons we made contact. So the rest of the lesson was more of the same as I would approach and he would talk me through keeping it lined up firstly and then slowly bringing power back.

    Charlie complemented me I was doing a good job, but I can't imagine. All seemed sloppy to me between the snaking and ballooning in the air, bouncing after contact, and then doing the dance on the ground. If that's good, I would hate to see bad. :) We went back to Northwest and I had my best approach and line up yet. All was good except about the first contact I pulled back too much and ballooned, well I did what I have already been warned not to do, I sticked forward! Charlie reminded me clearly that this was a No-No. I can see why, because it comes back down quick and you are in a nose down.

    Charlie taxied a little after we cleared the runway so I could play with the radios and from the feel he thought we had lost the tail springs. They ended up being there, but he said something is wrong with the tail steering.

    Overall, I'm enjoying this, but very humbled now and I can't see the light at end of the tunnel. I honestly can't see how I can figure out takeoffs without doing the dance or getting the landings right. Now flying the plane is just pure pleasure, I love how it flys although keeping it coordinated is a big challenge.
     
  6. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
    Consultant

    Nov 29, 2003
    7,087
    Shoreline,Washington
    Full Name:
    Robert Parks
    Rob, I had to do slow flight at altitude. Slowly coming back on the stick until the airplane stalled, keeping the nose aligned on a tartget ( cloud or some other feature). Then do it again and again until you got the feel of the airplane in a stall and keeping it aligned at slow speed. One of my instructors told me that any fool can fly an airplane fast but it takes a pilot to fly one slow. You can get the different response from the ailerons at higher angles of attack and slower speeds. It takes a lot more deflection and sooner than at cruise speeds. Keep those eyes on the target at the end of the runway and keep those feet alive to hold the target.
    Sounds like you're having fun and making good progress.
    Switches
     
  7. To remove this ad click here.

  8. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
    Consultant

    Nov 29, 2003
    7,087
    Shoreline,Washington
    Full Name:
    Robert Parks
    I agree with your instructor in waiting until the wind died down. That's one more variable that you don't need when you are trying to learn how to land. There's always a hot shot around to do a "put down" on someone who is using good sense instead his bravado. It's always fun to see a braggart get tripped by his own ego. I remember one of the instructor pilots at Hondo carried a swagger stick, a little riding crop, that he used to hit the hands of those who made a mistake in the cockpit of the AT-7's and C-60's. His riding crop somehow disappeared after he made a wheels-up landing one day.
    So anyway, try to learn one thing at a time without disruptive additions.
    Switches
     
  9. rfking

    rfking Formula Junior

    Nov 16, 2003
    785
    Italy
    1. The drill down the runway should be a focus on keeping the longitudinal axis of the airplane aligned with the centerline, while adjusting the bank angle (not aileron input) to keep the track down the centerline. That is the key to touching down with zero sideslip angle and not having to even start the "dance" as you call it.

    2. The stall angle of attack on the Citabria should permit a full or partial flap landing as a three point without ballooning back up into the air. Gusty or severe crosswinds are the exception, where immediate flap retraction on rollout is a good idea to improve ground contact and taxiing after landing.

    3. The airplanes have rudders for a reason.
     
  10. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
    Consultant

    Nov 29, 2003
    7,087
    Shoreline,Washington
    Full Name:
    Robert Parks
    Yeah ! Like I said.....
     
  11. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
    10,213
    San Antonio
    Full Name:
    Russ Turner
    "you should never move one control axis without thinking about the others" - dynamically they all effect each other.
    Although there may be some disagreement here - I'd suggest to very slightly lead your aileron bank input with a little rudder - just enough - and she will coordinate better.

    I know everyone has heard this old yarn, but to demonstrate there's a tale of an instructor that flew a plane from one airport to another using the throttle, rudders and trim tabs only.
     
  12. To remove this ad click here.

  13. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
    Consultant

    Nov 29, 2003
    7,087
    Shoreline,Washington
    Full Name:
    Robert Parks
    I agree, Russ, you should keep all controls working in concert....rolling on a point, 720's, lazy eights, etc. I mentioned flying a Pietenpol Aircamper in another thread and recall steering the airplane by putting my arm out in the slip stream. We used to practice flying without some controls to see what we had to do if something fell off.....which happened sometimes.
    Switches
     
  14. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Interesting point, haven't done rudder turns in a plane yet, but that was an exercise instructor made me do when learning RC. Flew entire pattern by rudder.
     
  15. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 3
    Date: October 19th, 2007
    Hours: 1.1
    Total Hours To Date: 3.1
    Summary: 3 wheel landings

    Really not much to say today, but I can finally see the light. Even my last lesson I never got the feeling that I would ever figure this out. The wind was more mild today at 6 kts. which seemed to make approaches and that last 20 ft. more stable. I have a long long ways to go, but confident I can now be a tailwheel pilot.

    Headed to a busy Denton as Alliance is closed. We were always #3 or 4, but helped a little because ATC put us on a right pattern and all the Skyhawk and Diamond trainers on left patterns. Only got about 6 landings in 40 minutes up there. Had good approaches, but all were long 1-3 miles because of the traffic. I was able to hold 70 mph and a good sight picture all the way down. A few times had to slip it, but usually was in the power to stay up because of long final.

    Doing better keeping centered and flying down to runway, but instructor wants me flaring later and more abrubtly. I'm being very gentle in the flare starting higher so we're floating down a few hundred feet. Didn't have any approaches or touch downs that required a go around or instructor to get on controls, but at least half the landings had a good first bounce. Not good, but it always sticks next time down which is good. Talking about it later instructor and I think I can come back on the stick better as I'm landing more on fronts than a 3 point.

    After touch down the more the plane slows the less rudder and tailwheel steering plane has and I'm doing the "dance". Still a little behind in corrections, but I'll get there. Mentally I know why I need to be ahead of the plane. Once I get it straight again and come back in with power it will dance slightly, but then as power coming up quickly and then tail off I don't have a problem keeping centered.

    OK landing back at Northwest stopped by the pumps and day done. I like this tailwheel stuff.
     
  16. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 4
    Date: October 20th, 2007
    Hours: 1.3
    Total Hours To Date: 4.4
    Summary: wheel landings, short field takeoff

    Decided to get back out there day after last lesson since it was going well. 25 kt. gusts, but only 10-20 degrees off. Instructor had me put two notches of flaps in, stood on brakes, power up, and then slowly release the brakes. Didn't seem even a couple seconds later we were off the ground! Holy cow, totally caught me off guard, expecting us to roll another 200 ft. By the time we passed the gas pumps we were 200-300 ft.

    Made it to Denton in a hurry. Surprisingly not that crowded, only about 3 in the pattern. We had briefed about wheel landings. First pass was just to keep it off the runway all the way down. Second was the same, but we did let it hit and bounce once, hit runway quicker than I expected. From there on out everything was approach, flare to flat while adding a little power, and then just keeping it center, straight, and working it down pulling power slowly. Sometimes it all came together and we didn't use much runway before touch and other times it would get squirrely and we used more runway after power up to get all in order.

    Now the actual touch downs were interesting. About half were a bounce and I would power it up and pull back to setup again. The other half no bounce and then working on getting stick forward and power back. The slower the plane rolls the more dancing I get. Power back in and dancing quickly goes away and straight take off.

    After about 8 touch and go's it was back to Northwest. For fun we did slow flight and I was able to get 33 kts. ground speed on GPS and instructor was able to get 18 kts. That couldn't have been accurate though because looking at the ground we weren't moving and if anything going backwards a little. Maybe we really were going 18 kts. and that was an illusion.

    Touch & go back at Northwest and then maybe my best landing afterwards to full stop. So now it seems I've learned everything I need to know and it is in my mind, but a long ways to go for mastery.
     
  17. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 5
    Date: October 23rd, 2007
    Hours: 1.3
    Total Hours To Date: 5.7
    Summary: 3 wheel and wheel landings, crosswind

    The absolute most frustrating lesson I've ever had, but I'm still loving it, so that says something. Seems like my most frustrating lessons have all been with the chief pilot Charlie. It isn't any blame on him, if anything maybe I'm more tense trying to impress Charlie. Mostly he's good at pointing out everything I'm doing wrong, so that's good. The 25 kt. winds up to 30 degrees off might have contributed to problems today.

    So after a great 4th lesson with wheel landings are really expected to take a step forward today and instead I was a step back. My approaches were good, but Alliance was running some new controllers or might have been in training. The voice changed every 15 minutes or so and there were many small mistakes on their part and some unusual spacing. The worst was going 4 miles South for 35L because a T-38 was long approach 35R. Evidently Alliance isn't authorized to land parallel although I did it earlier in the summer several times.

    My problems were starting a gradual flare up high instead of flying down and sharper flare. Once down there ready for touch down I'm doing great holding center or at least correcting even in big gusts and movements. What I'm not doing well is feeling how far above ground, when we touch, when we stay down, and when we bounce. I know to hold stick forward on wheel landings after ground and I know to hold stick back on bounces, but in practice I don't always have the feel if we're on ground or in a bounce. Charlie got on me a few times because we were on ground and I brought stick back which made us fly (bounce). Then Charlie would get on me when I thought we were ready to stick it, but were in a bounce and I tried to stick forward, which of course is a big no no.

    Just really frustrated today except for last landing at Alliance was good and final landing at Northwest over the trees on 35 was really good. So finished well.
     
  18. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
    Consultant

    Nov 29, 2003
    7,087
    Shoreline,Washington
    Full Name:
    Robert Parks
    Rob, at risk of countering your instructor and illiciting arguments, I would like to offer my thoughts on your landings. I was always taught that if you bounce during a stall ( three point) landings, you never pull back or push forward on the stick. Keep the stick in neutral and let the airplane start to settle then ease back on the stick so that you keep the tail down in a stabile stall. Pulling back on the stick after a bounce will aggravate the stall and the airplane could drop a wing and / or hit tail first with a worse bounce than before due to a complete lack of control.
    Pushing forward after a bounce is worse because you will add to the downward acceleration of the airplane because it is already near or at a stall and the main gear will launch it back into the air with force possibly starting a jack rabbiting series bounces that get increasingly worse. I saw an airplane put on its nose because of this and I have seen one develop into a ground loop when it got out of control.
    I have " climbed up" to a wheelie by pushing forward when the main gear contacts the ground ahead of the tail wheel but never after a bounce.
    I'm not an high timer like some of the other chat room members so maybe you should take my comments as just a personal observation.
    Switches
     
  19. rfking

    rfking Formula Junior

    Nov 16, 2003
    785
    Italy
    With the bounce off of an attempted three point landing - meaning the airplane was not through flying, and the tailwheel touching first resulted in an increased angle of attach and resulting increase in lift - adding just a touch of power while keeping the correct three point attitude (whether you have to push or pull on the stick) will usually result in the airplane settling gently back to the surface. It also gives you a little air across the tail surfaces - and some improved control during the landing.

    In the perfect landing, the tail actually touches slightly first - resulting in a decrease in angle of attack - reduction in lift and no bounce.

    Don't look at the ground below the airplane to judge height above the ground - focus a bit further away down or alongside the runway and you will be able to judge much better. Let your instructor land the plane while you focus on the "sight picture" of how the runway should look just before touchdown.

    My 2 cents -
     
  20. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
    Consultant

    Nov 29, 2003
    7,087
    Shoreline,Washington
    Full Name:
    Robert Parks
    I forgot to mention that an additional bit of power after a bounce will help to smooth things out and could keep the airplane from dropping like a trash can.
    I found that focusing well down the runway to establish a target on which to sight and then try your best to keep the airplane from landing as the power is bled off and the stick is coming back. Before you know it you have made a three point landing straight down the centerline
    Switches.
     
  21. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
    10,213
    San Antonio
    Full Name:
    Russ Turner
    " ...in every chore there is to be done there is an element of fun.."
    Mary Poppins, accomplished flier

    You should still be having fun. I can't add anything to what everyone says here, but I play a game where I keep the plane flying in three point attitude as long as possible just off the ground and end up hitting the ground in a three point with the stick all the way back.
    Have fun!!!
     
  22. Bob Parks

    Bob Parks F1 Veteran
    Consultant

    Nov 29, 2003
    7,087
    Shoreline,Washington
    Full Name:
    Robert Parks
    Yep, Jes like I said. AND keep the stick in yer gut after you're down.
    Switches
     
  23. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 6
    Date: October 26th, 2007
    Hours: 1.0
    Total Hours To Date: 6.7
    Summary: all landing types at 52F

    From having one of my worst lessons Tuesday (see Lesson 5), this one may have been the best. Helps a little 3 kt. winds vs. 22 kts. :) We just stayed in the pattern at Northwest the entire hour doing all landing types. Standard 3 wheel and wheel, then short field w/flaps. Landings were all decent except the very last short full stop was very short, but it was a little hard and one bounce. Starting to feel like I get it now. All the basic plane opps, taxi, take off, flying, approach, and post landing ground control are good. Doing better, but still need to work on that last 10 ft. feel.

    Getting excited now, one more lesson in the Citabria for emergency procedures and grass fields, then a couple lesson in the Super Decathlon.
     
  24. rfking

    rfking Formula Junior

    Nov 16, 2003
    785
    Italy
    I will relate a story I heard only last week that I think is appropriate here: The pilot involved had experience in tailwheel aircraft, but had bought a Stearman with a big radial engine and the insurance company had made it a requirment that before he could solo the plane, he had to have 25 takeoffs and landings to a full stop with an instructor that met their qualifications.

    After a couple of days of check out, and several hours in the pattern over a couple of days doing full stop landings, the pair taxied in and shut down. The assembled group of watchers complemented the pilot on his proficiency with his new airplane after the beautiful takeoffs and landings they had witnessed.

    The pilot remarked that even though he had met the FAA's minimum requirements, and the insurance company's minimum requirements, he had not yet met his personal minimum requirments, and that was to be able to takeoff and land the beast without those butterflies flying around in his stomach - and he had signed up for another 25 takeoffs and landings to a full stop.

    That's an aviator that "get's it."
     
  25. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 7
    Date: October 30th, 2007
    Hours: 1.0
    Total Hours To Date: 7.7
    Summary: engine out, grass fields, Citabria check out

    Flew with chief instructor again, looking forward to it since our lesson last week was rough with the 22 kt. winds. Wanted to prove I had things down OK since lesson with regular instructor Saturday went well.

    Great takeoff from Northwest, departed over Justin and Charlie had me keep flying northwest and then north. We kept going and going, wasn't sure why going so far out just to do some flight maneuvers. Well, figured it out when we got north of 380 and he called simulated engine out. Unknown to me, but quickly spotted was a nice little grass strip, which turned out to be Cowboy. I asked if he just wanted me to make a simulated approach or actually land and he said go ahead and land. So we were able to glide a good ways and were close to 1000 at the numbers. Great approach and although we would have made it OK down a little alignment strip, it would have been about 50 ft. short of the actual runway (I think). Added a tad of power in just the last seconds to make sure and made a great 3 point landing. Went around and did another good 3 point.

    Then headed east and landed at Ironhead to full stop and then short field takeoff. On way back to Northwest did wheel touch and go at Denton. Back at Northwest first did a wheel touch and go, then ended the day with 3 wheel short field. All of these landings were pretty good. Charlie said on our last approach that I needed to do something wrong so he could correct me. He was exaggerating of course, one thing I struggled with today was average final distances, I can really bring those in tighter. Something I'm taking seriously to correct on the tailwheel and Skyhawk because I get out of range to make runway if engine out.

    So today was great, nailed about everything and Charlie said if I had 150 hours he would have soloed me. I'm out of the Citabria now, fly in the Super Decathlon Friday and Saturday. Looking forward to that.
     
  26. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
    10,213
    San Antonio
    Full Name:
    Russ Turner
    That tailwheel stuff is so addictive, isn't it.
    That is the only thing that keeps me from pouncing on a more modern airplane.
    HAVE FUN!
     
  27. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 8
    Date: November 2nd, 2007
    Hours: 1.4
    Total Hours To Date: 9.1
    Summary: Super Decathlon

    I was really looking forward to this lesson. I can vaguely remember the responsiveness when I flew the Decathlon for spin training many months ago. A few new things to understand like prop control and monitoring manifold pressure. It took about 5 touch & go's before I got comfortable on pulling the throttle back for 24 lbs and prop to hit 2,400 RPM.

    The plane is a ton of fun in the tight patterns. Rolling the wings way over at 300 ft. to final and it wasn't even scarry. I'm real conservative with my flying, but I had complete confidence in the plane and my abilities. Just made sure everything was cordinated and above 80 mph.

    The Decathlon sinks like a rock compared to the Skyhawk and Citabria, but I never had problems coming in too high, even with the tight patterns. :) So as expected first time landing a Decathlon they weren't perfect. Far from it, equal to my Citabria landings maybe at Lesson 4. Did well at Alliance on the 3 wheels as I wasn't pressured by the Runway distance and just hung it right off pulling stick in my lap and let it strugle to fly as long as it wanted. Back at Northwest with pressure to get it down my 3 wheels would have been perfect 2 wheels. :)

    2 wheel landings I let it come down last few feet too fast. Once I got on the power more they were smoother that last bit, instructor was pushing me to flare it more instead of using power. We got 1.4 hours in and that was all pattern work at Alliance and Northwest, so a ton of landings. No problems at the end flying the plane, adjusting throttle/prop, or take offs. Still need to get those landings down, especially under the pressure of holding perfect center and not much room to float at Northwest.
     
  28. rob lay

    rob lay Administrator
    Staff Member Admin Social Subscribed Miami 2018 Owner

    Dec 1, 2000
    52,196
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Lay
    Lesson 9
    Date: November 4th, 2007
    Hours: 1.1
    Total Hours To Date: 10.2
    Summary: Tailwheel Endorsement!

    This has been such a fun and educational experience, I appreciate everyone's recommendation to go for my tailwheel. More than just learning the tailwheel ground idiosyncrasies that will help all my flying, the Citabria and Super Decathlon are a blast to pilot.

    We stayed in the pattern at Northwest and just shot landings for an hour. 3 wheels, 2 wheels, short, soft, and several "engine outs" on downwind. Those last emergency landings were the most fun. We were landing 35 and Gilbert would pull the power on downwind about the 17 numbers. Typically only about 700 AGL gained at that point, so not much to work with. Even with the challenge the Decathlon just gives you so much confidence. Yes it does drop like a rock, but you can turn it on the wings at 300 AGL over the trees and still feel comfortable.

    Not much else to say, but I was consistent enough with the landings that Gilbert has endorsed me for tailwheels. To celebrate he asked me if I wanted to do a low pass, which I agreed, but said I would keep it conservative, so he said that he would do it. :) So our "missed approach" was dropping from 800 AGL starting base at the numbers with full power. What a thrill, plane steep all the way back around where we only straightened at start of runway and I got a quick glance of 175 mph, held 5-10 ft. down runway and at other end pull back climbed us all the way to 1000 AGL before we nosed over at 80 mph. So I need to self evaluate whether that was so smart and in category of "young & bold" or if truly is a safe maneuver. Regardless, I'm glad I was able to experience it once. So although I loved it, a few questions about that maneuver...

    What are the actual FAA rules about "missed approaches" which we all know to be low passes? I know you have to be able to safely land a plane at any point, which can be done with this maneuver because the momentum allowed us to gain 1000 ft., but it wouldn't be that much gain if engine out.

    So I won't be able to solo until I get 150 hours for Marcair's insurance, but I will still dual a couple times a week to stay sharp on tailwheel.
     

Share This Page