Dragging the tail.

Friday afternoon, I went down to TOA to meet with Mickey Holton, an instructor recommended to me by Matt at MGL a while back.  Mickey teaches tailwheel flying, “real flying” as he calls it and I tend to agree.    After a briefing and a look over my logbook, we fired up the green Citabria and went for a flight.



We left Zamperini Field and flew over to Compton for some landing practice..  LOTS of landing practice.   We did 7 landings, none of which were any good, except the first one Mickey did to demonstrate the technique.  But I did better than Mickey expected me to.  Mostly, the issues I have relate to the fact that there is no bullshitting the Citabria.  You either fly it properly or you get your ass handed to you.

It has very low wing loading.  It’s super light and very responsive, a true sport plane.   Not very fast or powerful, but it has retained a lot of things that were mostly designed out of the Cherokees I learned to fly in.   For example, adverse yaw in this airplane is a killer.   If you move the stick left, the nose swings right, and you need to use those lumps of meat and bone at the ends of your legs to coordinate with left rudder.   Not only that, if you move the stick to either side in takeoff roll or landing, the nose swings and sets you up for a really gnarly ground loop.   In the Cherokee, the ailerons are designed to counteract this a little by placing a little more drag on the down side.   The RV is similar, but not as pronounced.

And of course, there’s the tailwheel configuration itself.  On the ground, once turning, a tailwheel aircraft keeps turning, unless you stop the turn with opposite rudder, and the landing is where this is most likely to nail you.  You can stick the landing then drift off into the weeds when your mind moves the stick for you and not the pedals.

There will be some unlearning of habits and some learning of new ones, but Mickey’s a great instructor and he’s been doing this forever.    Someday, i’ll be able to land this airplane without rolling it into a ball.

Comments (1)

  1. 7:16 pm, February 16, 2019gary Larson  / Reply

    Hi, Anyone have Mickey Holton’s contact info? Thanks, Gary

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