For a Saturday.
Hit Gillespie at 1000 for to add some hours to the total in tailwheel aircraft. Citabria 8643 beckoning, like. On account of I have the keys.
Out past El Capitan to work on the airmanship bit. Prior to heading up to Ramona, for to practice landings. Once back at Gillespie I found a Bücker Jüngmann, of all things, waiting at the refuel pit. An airplane about which we have lately spoken.
I gave the man my card.
The 3-point landings have become – in still air – more or less non-events. Just keep them feet happy on the rudder pedals and all is well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. But I still hadn’t quite mastered the wheel landing, malgre the fact that I’ve been signed off for ‘em.
The thing is that the tail tends to sag if you’re not right on it in a wheel landing. Which consequentially increases the angle of attack, getting you airborne again. Nosing over for a second attempt is considered poor form. On account of the crow-hopping and propeller gouging that’s in it. So you’re forced to choose between cobbing the power and milking her airborne in ground effect, or hauling aft on the stick and converting your wheel landing to a 3-point. Which has become not as hard as once it looked.
I headed back to Gillespie with doubts in my mind warring with a fierce determination. In my salad days I yielded nothing to no man afore he’d properly beaten me. In these our waning years, I remain unwilling to yield place to those who went before, all them hoary old gents for whom a single wheel in back remains fixedly “conventional” and for whom the tricycle contraption is something of an innovation. Loth though I am to ball some other bugger’s craft up, yet did I want to increase my ever diminishing store of mastery.
Things went much better, back at the home ‘drome. For I had remembered – keeping the nostrum that “nose attitude controls airspeed” – to keep the throttle in mind for rate of descent. What runway picture could not be perfectly sensed on roundout could be compensated for with throttle until the mains kissed earth. Then it was stick forward, and the devil take the hindmost. The last two landings were perfectly acceptable. Although, for the record, I will point out that my full stop landing was on three points.
It’s a wee, short runway there, on the left.
‘A was a bit of a antique aircraft/antique auto meet-up such as I noticed taxiing back. The which I stopped by and took some pleasure of.
Back to Montgomery, where the 1300 crew was half way late. Or at least, half of them were fully late. Because of the traffic coming south from Long Beach.
I briefed, we flew, your man kept his breakfast attentive to his duty, and earned two kills out of three bouts before his playing partner decided that, on the whole, he’d much prefer straight and level flight. So back we came, and I found – not for the first time – that recent currency in tailwheel aircraft makes for excellent tricycle gear landings.
At which point, our own FbL found herself at the aerodrome, clad for air combat and game as game could be whilst shaking in her core. Wondering what was it that she’d gotten herself into, and why she’d ever considered this to be a good idea.
We briefed, strapped in, taxied down to the hold short and found that the spark plugs managed by the right magneto were not entirely the thing. On account of the out-of-tolerance RPM drop associated with it. ‘Twas back to the line for to let maintenance wizard Skip do his magic. Which duty he did do, after some casting about and sotto voce mutterings about prissy jet pilots rejecting perfectly acceptable piston engines.
It might be that I just imagined that last bit.
We took off some time after 1630, and the day was hazy. “Ooh,” she said, after the wheels broke earth. “Oh,” she said after we broke away to the north, up the coastline.
The rest I will leave to you, and her.