Gone Flying Part 2: Joy of Tailwheel Flying

I’ll run my hand gently over the wing of a small airplane and say to him, “This plane can teach you more things and give you more gifts than I ever could.  It won’t get you a better job, a faster car, or a bigger house.  But if you treat it with respect and keep your eyes open, it may remind you of some things you used to know — that life is in the moment, joy matters more than money, the world is a beautiful place, and that dreams really, truly are possible.”  And then, because airplanes speak a language beyond words, I’ll take him up in the evening summer sky and let the airplane show him what I mean.

–Lane Wallace, ‘Eyes of A Child’ – Flying Magazine


Potomac Airfield is nestled amid a sprawling residential neighborhood. When you first come upon it, it feels surreal. The neighborhood ceases to exists in your mind. All that remains is a simple and idyllic airfield. Your mind may leap back to recapture that era of bygone days when barnstorming was the norm… flying was simple and easy, without rules or a care in the world.


Pre-flight complete, we set off down south towards the training area, south of the FRZ, and over the Potomac river.  It was a grey day: overcast, with chance of showers. Still, it did not look or feel gloomy. Visibility was great, but because of ceilings we were limited to stay below 3,000ft. The air was calm and the airplane almost flew itself and needed very minimal corrections. The last time I flew the Citabria was back in 2005. I had forgotten how much fun it is to fly! I had forgotten how much fun it is to fly with a stick 🙂

Lately my mind has been focused on Loss of Control in flight, especially during landings. I have attended several seminars both online and in person over the last few months. Spin training is never given in a C172, although I have done a spin awareness training in a C172 a few years back. The Citabria is perfect aircraft to review and refresh stall and spin recovery maneuvers.


There are minimal avionics in the Citabria. No attitude indicator. My instructor, Marianne, suggested looking outside to determine if the wings were level. No heading indicator. “I just use the compass,” she added. That’s all that was needed. After some steep turns (mostly… remember no attitude indicator :-)), slow flight, stalls, we moved to spins. Limited by altitude, we stayed with one loop only. Spinning the Citabria is fairly easy, and recovery is easy too, if you can keep you mind focused and not be lured by the ground that seems to be beckoning.


After some fun spin training, we headed over to Maryland Airport for some landing practice. No pattern work is permitted for the airports within the FRZ.

No flaps for the Citabria. It really is a very simple, and fun aircraft to fly. Power back enough, and let it glide down to the center line and the landing almost felt easy. Landings are the toughest in a tailwheel. Maybe the calm wind, conspired to help me that day.

What a fun day of flying… and Marianne is an excellent teacher and I can’t wait to go back for more tail wheel training and aerobatics!


Gone Flying: Part 1
Joy Of Tail Wheel Flying
Oceano Airport: A Slice of Paradise in the Central Coast
 Loss of Control in Flight
Preventing Aerodynamic Stalls and Loss of Control in Flight
Marianne Buckley

9 thoughts on “Gone Flying Part 2: Joy of Tailwheel Flying

  1. Karlene June 24, 2014 / 10:57 pm

    An amazing day! These are the days that memories are made of. Thanks for sharing it.


  2. flynthings June 25, 2014 / 12:29 am

    Absolutely! What a fun day of flying!


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