May 14th, 2012: High Speed Taxi's
High speed taxi practice today. 3 of each, tail low and tail high. High speed taxing is all about take offs and landings because, of course, that's what you're doing, driving a plane really fast. The whole idea is to get really good at this under all sorts of conditions, i.e, headwinds, tailwinds, crosswinds etc. I have to say, I did okay. I'm getting more accustomed to moving the plane around on the ground, getting it in and out of the hanger area and out for the run up. I'm getting more comfortable with the run up as well, and by my next lesson, I think I should be able to do this unassisted.On the 3rd high speed tail up taxi, my instructor actually had me take off. What a rush. I didn't really know what to expect. Being the passenger and sitting while someone else does it is one thing, but being in control is a whole new ballgame. I think I actually did a good job bringing the plane off the ground and into a nice even climb, although I was a little distracted just by the sheer energy and adrenaline of the whole thing, so it took me a minute to sort of "calm down" as it were.
Tail down taxis prepare you for takeoffs in a tailwind, essentially, if the wind is blowing from behind you, straight, left or right, you want to keep the tail down while you're taxing to help keep the plane stable. Tail up taxis are what you really do when you take off or land a plane although an actual take off, and landing consists of a combination of the 2. Essentially on a taxi for take off you have the tail pinned down until the plane hits about 20-30mph. The rule in the Citabria is, you keep the tail pinned until the airspeed indicator starts to move, and then you push the stick all the way forward in a steady, smooth but fairly swift manner, this pulls the tail off the ground. If you have a cross wind, you also want to keep the stick in the direction of the wind, so today, for instance, with a slight left tailwind, you keep the stick back and to the left a bit, and as you move the stick forward to bring the tail up, you keep the stick to the left to help compensate for the crosswind. When the plane hits 60 knots, you pull the stick back, again, smoothly, but with confidence, and without hesitation because as soon as you do…you're flying. You also need to add a little right rudder when the tail comes off the ground to counter the left stick (aileron) you're using and the prop rotation force, as this helps maintain a good attitude and control of the plane as you climb.
Just fantastic, my first unassisted take off, I couldn't wait to try it again. There were low clouds today, and it was a little choppy, but we did 6 minutes of instrument flying, you know, the hood over the glasses routine so I'm only looking at the instruments to fly, and not anything outside the window. Since it was so choppy, we kept that to a minimum and worked on some other maneuvers. The clouds also kept us from practicing any stalls which were on the agenda for the day, but we did practice some turns, flying a couple of patterns and then my CFI had me bring the plane all the way through the landing pattern and into the descent on final approach, although he took over the controls about 500 feet out of the runway and landed the Citabria.
All in all another great day of flying.