By lex, on November 18th, 2009
From small to large, lethal to experimental, Wired has 15 pages of the aviation future, and it doesn’t include much in the way of jolly giants vaulting through the burning blue in green flight suits, g-suits around their legs and waist, harness and buckles clanking on their shoulders, laughter in their hearts and death in their hands.
Good thing I got it while the getting was good.
Skynet became self aware at 2:14 am EDT August 29, 1997
On a separate topic your host has gone not gently into the unmanned night, and instead raged against the dying of the light by completing a step backwards through time: This very morning I received a conventional landing gear endorsement in my log book, certifying my proficiency at wheel landings, stall landings and operations during crosswinds. In an actual fricken’ tail wheel aircraft.
So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
At the airport at 0700 – and very little else would budge my grizzled carcass at such an early hour – in the machine a scant 15 minutes later. Left closed traffic on Runway 27L at SEE. One stall landing to show that we still could, followed by several tolerably proficient wheel landings. That little bit of forward trim that Tailspin Tom wrote about was goodly gear, and the lack of any winds at all made it a gret deal more fun than the last bout, when we were beaten about like coffee beans in the grinder.
A wheel landing (in the Citabria, at least) requires good airspeed control and a very great deal of patience – see rule number 20 here. Although the Citabria and I are becoming friends, I still found myself groping for the runway a bit and using the throttle as a bit of a flight control to cushion the landing in the terminal phase. My full stops therefore used most of the 2738 feet, although I was well in control by the end and had to add power to taxi clear.
So no, prolly no landing on river bends for me yet.
CFI Dave had offered to demonstrate the somewhat advanced technique of using the wheel brakes on a wheel landing. It can be tricky, because over-do it with the brakes (or fail to ease the forward stick out as you do so) and the machine ends up going a** over tea kettle. Eventually you trade full forward stick for full aft (and yes, into the wind) and she settles gracefully back on three points with all the smash burned off her.
In the event, he adjudged my performance on the previous landings suitable to go ahead and do it myself, and even my tentative efforts – I have a positive aversion to dinging the prop, far less flipping the plane over on its back – had us stopped in time to taxi clear at the intersecting runway rather than at the final taxiway.
When we taxied clear he told me that I was a qual, and asked me if I wanted to run a few more laps in the pattern or take her to the barn. I regretfully took her to parking, since there was paid work to be done. Dave offered me the lease of his machine to practice with when the urge strikes – and it’s striking right now – but I have to research the issue of renter’s insurance, since it’s cost prohibitive for a CFI who gives primary instruction in a tailwheel aircraft to ensure the hull. I summat doubt that my weekend employers will let me have a crack at either of their two Travelairs **, far less the mighty SNJ-4 without a little more ground loop-free time in the log book.
This was a little harder than I thought it would be – much of it goes against every ingrained instinct of a multi-thousand hour tricycle gear pilot and you cannot give up on the machine until she’s chocked and chained – but it was well worth the effort from the sense of accomplishment I got.
I’m glad it’s done.
** 09-21-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.