Flying Citabria N5156X on my First Solo Cross Country Flight A couple weeks ago in Short Field Landings and Learning Plateaus I lamented my inability to comfortably fly the Citabria slow enough on final to perform a short field landing without floating right past my intended touchdown point.

The following weekend, I managed to fly about 4.2 hours for the sole purpose of getting my speed down in a comfortable way. Thanks in part to the helpful comments in response to that post, here's what I did.

  • flew down to Hollister on Saturday, climbed to 5,500 along the way, and practiced flying between 55 and 65mph with the engine idle for a good 10 minutes
  • worked on flying slower during final and landing, by moving my comfort zone down a few mph every 3-4 landings
  • practice over and over
  • completely ignored picking a spot to land on, instead focusing completely on simply making the runway and controlling speed

It worked.

I flew again with my instructor last Wednesday and after he gave me a few pointers on controlling my touchdown point (use small power changes to adjust it), I started nailing my short field landings within the -0/+200 practical test standards.


In retrospect, it is all quite easy.

I thought I was going to practice a bit more on my own this past Saturday, but when I arrived down at South County airport, I encountered winds that were variable from about 10 to 15 knots and anywhere from straight down the runway to a 40 degree left crosswind.


I was dismayed, but decided it was a great chance to try a few "normal" landings to see how I could handle the crosswind. Surprisingly, I had a blast doing this and stuck around far longer than I expected. In total, I logged 11 landings down there and only had to go around once.

My fear of crosswind landings in the Citabria is starting to fade, and that's a very good feeling. I now feel like I have a lot more control in my landings than I ever have before.


Posted by jzawodn at November 26, 2006 09:25 PM

Reader Comments
# gr8ace said:

Flying scares me stupid. Learning to fly would paralyze me. Great pic.

on November 27, 2006 02:26 AM
# Spencer Hoyt said:

You have helped inspire me to go get my license. I am starting my training next spring.
Maybee we can meet-up one day.
Good Luck,

on November 27, 2006 12:43 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Cool! Where will you be learning?


on November 27, 2006 12:53 PM
# Nick Arnett said:

What's the Citabria's minimum controllable airspeed? And how do you fly for 10 minutes with the engine at idle when you only climbed to 5,500? Most small airplanes would make contact with the ground from that altitude before 10 minutes with no power...?

on November 28, 2006 08:07 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


They were's ten uninterrupted minutes. :-)

It'll stall in the mid to high 40s, depending on weight.

on November 28, 2006 08:10 AM
# Joe Zawodny said:

I've had more planes than I can count. The biggest one had a wing span of 9 feet! Seriously, folks scoff a lot about comparing "Real Flying" to Radio Control Aircraft. And, there is a lot of truth behind that point of view, nevertheless, at some level flying is flying. You have to be comfortable with the plane whether it is real (as in you sit in it) or not in order for both pilot and plane to perform optimally. I am really happy you took the time to just go experience the relationship between pilot and plane. You both are better for it. BTW, I'm getting a new plane for Giftmas!!!

on November 28, 2006 07:13 PM
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