Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tailwheel fun in a Citabria

Citabria Lately, I have been having fun trying out tailwheel airplane lessons in a Citabria 7GCBC. I got my first exerience at tailwheel and aerobatics in a Decathalon and Pitts in the spring, and I wrote about that tailwheel aerobatic fun in this post. I always like learning something new each year if possible, and tailwheel is something I have not done yet. It has been fun so far, and it really makes you concentrate on your rudders. My latest lessons focusing on the tailwheel endorsement have been at Air West Flight Center in Longmont (KLMO). They have two Citabrias, one Decathalon, and a number of experienced tailwheel instructors.

One of the things I like to do when going into a new plane is take some pictures if possible. That lets me think through the different items on the ground at home before I get in the air. There are not as many controls in a Citbria as an IFR equipped plane, but I still think it is good. I can imagine all the different parts of a flight and what I would be doing.

Below is the avionics panel for this particular plane. This plane is carburated and has a nice VFR panel. The engine controls from left to right are mixture, prime, and starter. This plane does not have a key for starting, just a button. This model also has manual flaps and if you look closely you can see the flap handle to the left of the left rudder pedal.

Citabria avionics panel
There are some controls on the left side for throttle, carb heat, and elevator trim. At the bottom of the picture near the red placard is the fuel control valve (down is on).

Citabria Left Controls

Up high on the left are the switches and circuit breakers. Since this plane does not have a key for starting and the mags, the mag swithes are up here as well. One for left and one for right.

Citabria Left Switches

Up by the wing roots inside, there is a fuel tank level, but it is only for one wing. So it is important to check the fuel manually in each tank.

For operations here in Longmont, 70 mph is a good number to remember. 70 mph works well for the initial climb after takeoff and the base and final legs during landing. 1500 RPM for the base and final legs seems to work pretty well for a power setting. I raise the tail when there is enough speed, and it seems to be around 40 mph. Takeoff is around 60 mph. There is a lot more to the tailwheel transition, but I think I will leave that to a follow on post after I get my endorsement. It should be soon.

I found these two checklists on the web that seem pretty decent: a fuel injected 7KCAB checklist and a carburated 7ECA checklist.

From what I remember, much of the Citabria was similar to the Decathalon I flew earlier. The Decathalon had a more powerful engine, a constant speed prop, and descended quicker due to a symmetric airfoil (it is not flat on the bottom for more intense aerobatic work), but overall pretty similar.

Lots of other details to think about concerning the aircraft, but that is some quick pictures and information. See the POH for lots more info.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Local Mountain Flight

Some days I feel very lucky for where I live and work and owning a plane. Wednesday was one of those days. The airport is only 5 minutes from work, so I can have a very memorable flight over lunch. Every once in a while I take advantage of that. I took up two friends from work on Wednesday for a flight over the continental divide.

Below is my approximate flight path recorded from my SPOT tracker as mentioned in my earlier post about SPOT tracking with planes.

Local Mountain Flight PathI did not have a chance to take pictures, but my friends did and here are some of their pictures from the flight.

Shortly after takeoff, we leave the edge of the plains for the foothills.

Edge of foothills
Minutes later we are up on the eastern side of the divide looking at the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lake on East side of divide Approaching Rollins/Corona Pass, we fly by the Eldora Ski Resort which is just on the east side of the divide.

Eldora Ski Area Aerial

Just after passing over the divide, there are more mountain ranges and the Winter Park Ski Resort. It is amazing how close these two resorts are by plane; only minutes apart by plane, but 2 hours by car.

Winter Park Ski Area AerialThere are lots of pretty alpine lakes on both sides of the divide. Below is one on the west side of the divide.

Lake near divideHere is a picture of Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is a beautiful area from the ground and the air.

Bear Lake Aerial Here is the pretty Long's Peak from the air.

Long's Peak
And then it is time to descend into KLMO, put the plane away, grab a quick and tasty burger at the new Flight Deck Grill in Longmont, and head back to work.

Flying in the Rocky Mountains over the divide reminds me of some of the best parts of flying with only one hour of flying time.