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Old December 13th, 2009, 11:55 AM   #1
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Citabria on Skis?

I put my bonanza up for sale a couple of weeks ago and it looks like it's sold. I've been thinking about going back to a citabria since I rarely used my bonanza for any real travel. I've got two offers. Both are very good. One is cash and the other is cash plus a very nice citabria. I wanted to limit my choice of citabria to the newer ones with the metal spars. I have no problem with wood spars. I think the whole metal spar thing is nonsense but that's another story. I just want the extra useful load. The one I may take in trade is an older one with wood spars that is absolutely beautiful. It's truly mint. It's a GCBC - I'd prefer a GCAA but this thing is really nice so another compromise. There's a couple of things I'm not nuts about so I'm still on the fence but....

It comes with wheel skis . I kept thinking that I wouldn't want the skis but the more I think about it, the more I think that it would be a lot of fun - if we can find any snow near Philly. I know of at least one instructor that can offer training - which is a must before I attempt ski flying although I don't think it's a FAR requirement. I've read that wheel skis are not nearly as good as straight skis. Since I'm based at a paved field with excellent snow removal, I've got to have wheels. As neat as they sound, I'm not sure how much I've ever really use them in the Philly area.

Does anyone on the board have experience with wheel skis on a citabria? Anyone with wheel ski experience near Philly and suggestions on where to go?

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Old December 13th, 2009, 12:15 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
I put my bonanza up for sale a couple of weeks ago and it looks like it's sold. I've been thinking about going back to a citabria since I rarely used my bonanza for any real travel. I've got two offers. Both are very good. One is cash and the other is cash plus a very nice citabria. I wanted to limit my choice of citabria to the newer ones with the metal spars. I have no problem with wood spars. I think the whole metal spar thing is nonsense but that's another story. I just want the extra useful load. The one I may take in trade is an older one with wood spars that is absolutely beautiful. It's truly mint. It's a GCBC - I'd prefer a GCAA but this thing is really nice so another compromise. There's a couple of things I'm not nuts about so I'm still on the fence but....

It comes with wheel skis . I kept thinking that I wouldn't want the skis but the more I think about it, the more I think that it would be a lot of fun - if we can find any snow near Philly. I know of at least one instructor that can offer training - which is a must before I attempt ski flying although I don't think it's a FAR requirement. I've read that wheel skis are not nearly as good as straight skis. Since I'm based at a paved field with excellent snow removal, I've got to have wheels. As neat as they sound, I'm not sure how much I've ever really use them in the Philly area.

Does anyone on the board have experience with wheel skis on a citabria? Anyone with wheel ski experience near Philly and suggestions on where to go?

decisions

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Isn't every pilot supposed to have two airplanes? One for low and slow and one for fast and far?

When would you fly with skis in Philly?

We lived in Lancaster co for 16 years and every so often there would be a good snow -- that would melt 2 days later.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 01:39 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
I put my bonanza up for sale a couple of weeks ago and it looks like it's sold. I've been thinking about going back to a citabria since I rarely used my bonanza for any real travel. I've got two offers. Both are very good. One is cash and the other is cash plus a very nice citabria. I wanted to limit my choice of citabria to the newer ones with the metal spars. I have no problem with wood spars. I think the whole metal spar thing is nonsense but that's another story. I just want the extra useful load. The one I may take in trade is an older one with wood spars that is absolutely beautiful. It's truly mint. It's a GCBC - I'd prefer a GCAA but this thing is really nice so another compromise. There's a couple of things I'm not nuts about so I'm still on the fence but....

It comes with wheel skis . I kept thinking that I wouldn't want the skis but the more I think about it, the more I think that it would be a lot of fun - if we can find any snow near Philly. I know of at least one instructor that can offer training - which is a must before I attempt ski flying although I don't think it's a FAR requirement. I've read that wheel skis are not nearly as good as straight skis. Since I'm based at a paved field with excellent snow removal, I've got to have wheels. As neat as they sound, I'm not sure how much I've ever really use them in the Philly area.
Having had experience with both the wood and metal spars, I know it's not nonsense.

Check the weight and balance stuff for the 7GCBC. If it hasn't been weighed since new, don't believe the empty weight. There was a time that they were bad for fudging the numbers. We have a 1979 7GCBC that had the factory's empty weight as 1200 lb, and when I weighed it I found it was 1319 lb., though a bit of that was metal spar conversion. Without the metal spars and heavier lift struts, the gross weight is 1650, which leaves next to nothing for useful load. The metal spars and heavier struts give 1750.

See their tech website: http://www.amerchampionaircraft.com/...Technical.html

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Old December 13th, 2009, 07:37 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

I've only got a little ski time (straight skis, Cessna 140), but it's so much fun I'd take the one with skis if I were you.
Don't know about your area, but these guys could certainly teach you how to work with skis:

http://www.andoverflight.com/index.html
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Old December 13th, 2009, 08:42 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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Originally Posted by dmccormack View Post

When would you fly with skis in Philly?
Hopefully, this winter there'll be snow on some of the grass strips near me. I'd like to find out if there are any fields in the poconos that might be a more reliable winter destination for some fun in the snow.

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Having had experience with both the wood and metal spars, I know it's not nonsense.

Check the weight and balance stuff for the 7GCBC. If it hasn't been weighed since new, don't believe the empty weight. There was a time that they were bad for fudging the numbers. We have a 1979 7GCBC that had the factory's empty weight as 1200 lb, and when I weighed it I found it was 1319 lb., though a bit of that was metal spar conversion. Without the metal spars and heavier lift struts, the gross weight is 1650, which leaves next to nothing for useful load. The metal spars and heavier struts give 1750.

See their tech website: http://www.amerchampionaircraft.com/...Technical.html

Dan
Hi Dan - I mentioned in my post that I did want metal spars solely for the gross weight increase. I think the rest of ACA's line that the metal spars are better is nonsense. Metal spars are easier and cheaper for them to build with than wood but not stronger. There's no practical reason to have a gross weight increase solely due to the metal spar. I understand that there have been some real problems related to the metal spar and the attach fittings.

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Originally Posted by rottydaddy View Post
I've only got a little ski time (straight skis, Cessna 140), but it's so much fun I'd take the one with skis if I were you.
Don't know about your area, but these guys could certainly teach you how to work with skis:

http://www.andoverflight.com/index.html
Thanks
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Old December 13th, 2009, 10:29 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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Originally Posted by David View Post
Does anyone on the board have experience with wheel skis on a citabria? Anyone with wheel ski experience near Philly and suggestions on where to go?
I've flown a J-3 on wheel skis from Northwoods Aviation at KCAD (Cadillac, MI). Fun! I don't know why straight skis would be "better," I'd rather have wheel skis for the exact reason you state - Take off on the wheels from the paved home 'drome, then extend the skis and have fun.

Really, if you're an OK tailwheel pilot, you'll do fine on skis. Don't do any "wheel" landings, always 3-point. Other than that, snow is even more forgiving than grass. About the only additional problem I can think of is handling flat-light situations - You may land before you expect it! I guess having a seaplane rating might be helpful too, as flat-light landings are similar to glassy water landings.

Man, I love flying skis. I'm jealous.
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Old December 14th, 2009, 06:45 AM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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Originally Posted by David View Post
Hopefully, this winter there'll be snow on some of the grass strips near me. I'd like to find out if there are any fields in the poconos that might be a more reliable winter destination for some fun in the snow.
There are a few nice strips in and around Lancaster Co that would be great on skis if there was adequate snow -- Keller Bros and Farmer's Pride , for example (I think those two are in Lebanon Co, actually!)
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Old December 14th, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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Originally Posted by flyingcheesehead View Post
About the only additional problem I can think of is handling flat-light situations - You may land before you expect it! I guess having a seaplane rating might be helpful too, as flat-light landings are similar to glassy water landings.
I'm guessing the flat light landings are done by keeping power in and setting it for 100fpm descent until you go bump?
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Old December 15th, 2009, 03:49 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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I'm guessing the flat light landings are done by keeping power in and setting it for 100fpm descent until you go bump?
Something like that. Or, you can land right next to (and parallel to) a line of trees to help you figure out where the ground is.
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Old December 15th, 2009, 04:27 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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I'm guessing the flat light landings are done by keeping power in and setting it for 100fpm descent until you go bump?
Actually, you kinda go "schuussss"...
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Old December 16th, 2009, 02:18 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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Actually, you kinda go "schuussss"...
You've never seen Kent land.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 12:03 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

The citabria didn't pass the prebuy and more good news - the gentleman that wanted to pay cash already bought something else .
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Old January 5th, 2010, 03:03 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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The citabria didn't pass the prebuy and more good news - the gentleman that wanted to pay cash already bought something else .
double bummer... Hope someone else comes along, your plane is very nice!
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Old January 5th, 2010, 03:44 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

I came to the party late. I think it's for the best that the Citabria fell through.

You're better off buying the plane you want instead of taking a trade with a bunch of compromises.

AFA skis - sounds like fun. Is VanSant open in winter? You could land there. Andover/Aeroflex is probably open in snow, since there's a bush flying school there.
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Old January 6th, 2010, 06:14 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

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Originally Posted by Rob Schaffer View Post
double bummer... Hope someone else comes along, your plane is very nice!
Thanks Rob. I'm not going to push selling it. I only advertised on beechtalk.com and got a fair amount of interest very quickly. Right now, I'm back on the fence about selling it.

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I came to the party late. I think it's for the best that the Citabria fell through.

You're better off buying the plane you want instead of taking a trade with a bunch of compromises.

AFA skis - sounds like fun. Is VanSant open in winter? You could land there. Andover/Aeroflex is probably open in snow, since there's a bush flying school there.
I don't know if VanSant is officially open but that would be one of my stops. I used to fly in and out of there often. I also got my PPL there. In fact, that's where I had the prebuy done on the citabria. The mechanic there, George Taylor, is excellent. It's always fun to take a walk through the shop and see what they're working on. The day I was there, they had a stearman, one that I flew a couple of years ago, a pitts and a couple of others. The stearman is going through a total restoration - every nut and bolt. When George is done it will be museum quality.
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Old January 6th, 2010, 08:10 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

Dang Dave Just read the this thread. That is a beautiful M35 I'm sure it will go quickly.
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Old January 7th, 2010, 03:56 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

I'm considering buying a Super Decathlon... what's this about the metal spars having problems??
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Old January 7th, 2010, 04:09 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

i always thought the metal spars were desireable over the wood spars.
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Old January 7th, 2010, 04:12 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

Me too- that's why I was surprised by the previous coment re: metal spars and their attach points
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Old January 7th, 2010, 04:14 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

first i've ever heard of it but i don't really pay much attention to the Citabria line.
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Old January 7th, 2010, 07:24 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeanie View Post
Me too- that's why I was surprised by the previous coment re: metal spars and their attach points
Here's a link to one article regarding the fuel tank problems
http://iac35.aerobaticsweb.org/news/...ad-Fall-04.pdf
Here's the AD for the attach fitting
http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory...5?OpenDocument
Frankly, that AD looks different than what the owner of a 2005 GCBC told me. He thought the part was to be replaced at 1000 hour intervals.

You should check out the yahoo group for citabrias for more information and call the factory. There's also been some problems with the paint cracking but I think that's been resolved. A friend bought a new GCAA that developed paint cracks and there's a newer citabria at my field that's been back to the factory to get the paint problems addressed.

Regarding the wood spar wings, I would buy a 7ECA, GCAA or GCBC citabria with wood spars but I'd want them inspected by someone that knows how to inspect them and I'd also want a plane that had been stripped and recovered in 10 years or less. I wouldn't buy a decathlon or 7KCAB with wood spars. Honestly, you're really better off buying any of them with metal spars simply because when it's time to sell, it won't be an issue. When I sold my 7ECA almost 4 years ago, the first question from every buyer was, "Does it still have wood spars?" It did but it was in excellent condition and sold easily.
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Old January 7th, 2010, 08:02 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

[quote=David;539446]
Frankly, that AD looks different than what the owner of a 2005 GCBC told me. He thought the part was to be replaced at 1000 hour intervals.

You should check out the yahoo group for citabrias for more information and call the factory. There's also been some problems with the paint cracking but I think that's been resolved. A friend bought a new GCAA that developed paint cracks and there's a newer citabria at my field that's been back to the factory to get the paint problems addressed.

quote]

The wing strut fittings are to be NDI'd or replaced at 1000 hour intervals as specified by the Airworthiness Limitations section of the Service Manual. It's not within any AD, but is as mandatory as an AD. We've never found any cracks in the fitings on our two Citabrias, but one fitting showed a small flaw in the metal during the dye-penetrant test that revealed a void just under the surface. It had flown 1000 hours without cracking, some of that being aerobatic time.

The problem with cracking fittings stems from the offset in the fittings themselves. They bolt to the spar web, which is maybe 1/8" thick, and then jog outward to bolt across the strut end fitting, which is over an inch wide. Under tension the joggled sections are pulled together a bit, and are pushed apart under tension. This flexing, as far as I can see, is what eventually breaks them. Any surface scratches create stress risers that will start the failure much sooner. WIth the old wood spars the fittings were straight, since the spar thickness and strut end diameter were the same.

Paint cracking on these airplanes is due to the urethane topcoat. Urethane is nice and shiny and has plenty of eye appeal, but it's heavy, it's hard to repair, and over time it dries out and loses its flex and starts cracking.

Dan
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Old January 7th, 2010, 08:57 PM
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Re: Citabria on Skis?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Thomas View Post
The wing strut fittings are to be NDI'd or replaced at 1000 hour intervals as specified by the Airworthiness Limitations section of the Service Manual. It's not within any AD, but is as mandatory as an AD. We've never found any cracks in the fitings on our two Citabrias, but one fitting showed a small flaw in the metal during the dye-penetrant test that revealed a void just under the surface. It had flown 1000 hours without cracking, some of that being aerobatic time.

The problem with cracking fittings stems from the offset in the fittings themselves. They bolt to the spar web, which is maybe 1/8" thick, and then jog outward to bolt across the strut end fitting, which is over an inch wide. Under tension the joggled sections are pulled together a bit, and are pushed apart under tension. This flexing, as far as I can see, is what eventually breaks them. Any surface scratches create stress risers that will start the failure much sooner. WIth the old wood spars the fittings were straight, since the spar thickness and strut end diameter were the same.

Paint cracking on these airplanes is due to the urethane topcoat. Urethane is nice and shiny and has plenty of eye appeal, but it's heavy, it's hard to repair, and over time it dries out and loses its flex and starts cracking.

Dan
Thanks Dan. I heard that there was one accident in a metal spar decathlon that prompted the AD but I haven't seen any specific NTSB report about it.
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