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Thread: Is IAC Sportsman for the sportsman?

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    Is IAC Sportsman for the sportsman?

    I am flying a 2004 7GCBC and have been considering entering in Sportsman category competition. Anyone out there use a +G only Citabria in competition?

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    Diana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John von Linsowe View Post
    I am flying a 2004 7GCBC and have been considering entering in Sportsman category competition. Anyone out there use a +G only Citabria in competition?
    Hi John. I have a 1977 7GCAA and I was in a contest a few years ago with my Citabria. Actually, Sport Aerobatics ran an article that I wrote about being in the contest. I can give you a link to that article if you are interested.

    Have you competed in Primary yet? Or were you thinking of going right into Sportsman for your first contest?

    In the past few years there has been an increase in numbers of Citabrias competing in the U.S. One of the Citabrias has been competing in Sportsman and has done fairly well.

    My engine only faltered briefly when I did the competition roll and also when trying to draw a decent line inverted in the 1/2 Cuban. So far, my engine has always picked back up without any problems.

    It is hard for me to do a good competition roll in the Citabria...I actually had my roll named the "Slowbarrel Roll" at the contest. People often stopped to watch my roll at the contest since it was somewhat entertaining.

    It's harder to make a Citabria look good at a competition and it's tough to beat other airplanes, like a Pitts or Extra or Decathlon or Edge, especially in Sportsman. So, my response would depend on why you want to compete and what your goals are.

    I hope I answered your question.

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    Thank you for the reply Diana. I have competed in the past but many years ago in a Pitts S-1 and a Decathlon in Sportsman and Intermediate. I was curious now days with so many high performance aircraft in Sportsman if it really is Sportsman or just a shorter simpler routine for the high performance ships. Back in the day I would have discussions about this type of thing with Giles Henderson. He was flying his clipped wing Cub and did quite well with it. Perhaps that can still happen.

    Insurance for the Citabria is another question. Who, at a resonable price, can cover competition flying?

    Parachutes also a question, I have a Strong seat pack because of my long legs. Is there a preferred make/model for Citabria seating configuration?

    Seat belts, I assume Hooker harness for the dual belt installation. Other options?

    John

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    Diana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John von Linsowe View Post
    Thank you for the reply Diana. I have competed in the past but many years ago in a Pitts S-1 and a Decathlon in Sportsman and Intermediate. I was curious now days with so many high performance aircraft in Sportsman if it really is Sportsman or just a shorter simpler routine for the high performance ships. Back in the day I would have discussions about this type of thing with Giles Henderson. He was flying his clipped wing Cub and did quite well with it. Perhaps that can still happen.
    Good morning, John. I have several thoughts about that and will post them in segments so the posts won't be so long.

    Giles is my hero! I am in awe of him. Actually, he was assigned to be my mentor at the Kansas City contest and he was quite helpful. Here is a link to my article where I mentioned him.

    Since you already have experience competing I will only touch on what might be different in the Citabria, in my limited experience. Having the fixed pitch prop added to the challenge of energy/power management, for me. I don't know what the Pitts S-1 has...the different models of Pitts can be even more confusing than the different versions of Citabrias.

    Making the Citabria look good for the judges in the competition maneuvers, especially the roll, can be VERY hard. But, there are those who can fly the Citabria well enough to pull it off. If you look at the contest results over the years in the southeast region, you will see that a Citabria pilot (Mark Fullerton) did well in the Sportsman category. It looks like he flies a 7KCAB. Last year Greg Koontz also competed in a J-3 in Sportsman. So, it can be done, but if scoring well is a goal for you, then it's going to be harder to do that in a Citabria.

    I came in 9th out of 9 in Primary, so obviously, I didn't score all that well, but at least I was in the top 10. Several people gave me some great advice before and during the contest, and that helped me a lot. I would be glad to share some of that with you if you are interested.

    The contest environment was overwhelming to me and, to be honest with you, I felt out of place showing up in a Citabria. It's too bad there aren't more contests now where the Citabria isn't out of place. I guess it depends on what you really want out of the competition. I met some GREAT people and became a better pilot by preparing for the contest and practicing for it. But, I will never do it again for various reasons.

    More responses to your other questions shortly.

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    Diana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John von Linsowe View Post
    Insurance for the Citabria is another question. Who, at a resonable price, can cover competition flying?
    John, we have had Avemco for years and they never asked about competition flying. Avemco gave us a better rate because the Citabria is kept in a hangar and because of our safety record, but they never asked about competing and they don't have any special clause about competing.

    Quote Originally Posted by John von Linsowe View Post
    Parachutes also a question, I have a Strong seat pack because of my long legs. Is there a preferred make/model for Citabria seating configuration?
    I guess it just depends on what the individual needs. I'm short, so I use a Softie backpack with the front seat all the way back. The problem I have is that I have short arms and when buckled in really well, can't get as much forward stick as I would like when inverted since my arms won't reach that far (makes for more of a problem in the competition roll). When I give aerobatic rides, I have to use a variety of combinations of seat cushions and parachute versions to get my back seat passenger to fit and still have full stick movement. My other parachute is a National seatpack and I don't like that one as well, so my passenger normally gets that one.

    Quote Originally Posted by John von Linsowe View Post
    Seat belts, I assume Hooker harness for the dual belt installation. Other options?

    John
    When I first started doing aerobatics in the Citabria, the original seat belts were in place. The inertia reel, single shoulder harness did not hold me in very well and it seemed like I was always sliding around when doing aerobatics. When we recovered the Citabria, we put in the 5-point Hooker Harness and I could tell a HUGE difference in how well it held me in. It was easier to control the airplane with the new harness, too. I don't know about other brands. I took a few lessons in a Citabria in California, and didn't like the kind of harness in that rental Citabria, but don't know what brand it was. The shoulder harness hooked over the back of the front seat and then was attached near the floor behind the front seat. It was uncomfortable.

    By the way, I wish I had ratchets.

    I hope I answered your questions adequately.

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    Diana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John von Linsowe View Post

    Seat belts, I assume Hooker harness for the dual belt installation. Other options?

    John
    John, I just found an old thread that I started years ago about the Hooker harness on the Pilots of America forum. This was before we recovered the Citabria. Perhaps you can find some useful information in that thread. Another brand of harness is mentioned there.

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    The Sportsman sequence here in the States is specifically designed so an airplane without inverted systems can fly it and be competitive. Yes, there are some short periods of descending inverted flight (half-Cuban for example), but the sequences do not require sustained inverted flight.

    A Citabria is very capable of doing just fine in Primary or Sportsman...but you will be working harder than the average Pitts/Extra pilot. I also completely disagree with Diana on key one point, a well flown Citabria can beat a Pitts/Extra almost every time. A Citabria will get better scores because the judges can see you better than a little football shaped S-1 at the same altitude (~34 ft wingspan vs ~17 ft wingspan). But then the judges can also see each and every mistake a big Citabria makes...so don't make mistakes.

    The primary drawbacks to using a Citabria is the limited roll rate and lack of inverted systems. Not having inverted systems can be managed by adjusting slightly how you fly figures, and the roll rate is mostly off set by the slower speeds a Citabria will have in the box. An Extra cooking along at 180+ kts needs the higher roll rate to get the same figure done in the same space as a Citabria only doing 120 kts. And the slower speed of a Citabria can be a big advantage...for example this year's Sportsman Known has 2 downwind 45's on the same pass. No way most pilots will keep that in the box, but a slow flying Citabria or Cub has a good shot at doing it. The slower speeds also allow the pilot to put the whole sequence right in front of the judges to maximize the opportunity for good scores.

    If you want to see a well flown sequence in a non-inverted airplane, watch Giles or Greg fly their Cubs in a contest. These airplanes also have lots of adverse yaw (so lots of footwork required) and need more nose-up attitude when inverted than most pilots are used to, but they still score and place well in contests.

    Get a set of spades for the ailerons if you don't have them, makes a huge difference in flying good quality rolls and reducing pilot fatigue.

    As for doing well in contests, it doesn't matter what type of airplane you are flying. If you don't have good critiquing from a qualified observer on the ground, you will not do well. Practice sessions with feedback from the ground are absolutely critical. I fly perfectly round loops every time... the judges just don't seem to agree.

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    Diana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyav8r View Post
    A Citabria is very capable of doing just fine in Primary or Sportsman...but you will be working harder than the average Pitts/Extra pilot. I also completely disagree with Diana on key one point, a well flown Citabria can beat a Pitts/Extra almost every time.
    Paul, I admire how well you do that in your Decathlon. And I would love for you to show 'em how to do it in a Citabria, so I would be glad to loan you mine anytime, including the contest next weekend in Kansas City.

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    RetroAcro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diana View Post
    The contest environment was overwhelming to me and, to be honest with you, I felt out of place showing up in a Citabria. It's too bad there aren't more contests now where the Citabria isn't out of place.
    Sorry you felt that way. There are lots of Super D's at contests, and to me a Citabria doesn't seem much different. In my experience folks at a contest love to see the more uncommon types...there are plenty of Pitts' and Extras. We had a guy who used to fly a stock Stearman just for fun. His were the only flights where everybody stopped what they were doing to watch. Same with the T-28 (that's right) that flew Primary at another contest I attended. Have another friend who is getting into competition flying with a Clipped T-craft, which everybody loves watching as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diana View Post
    Paul, I admire how well you do that in your Decathlon. And I would love for you to show 'em how to do it in a Citabria, so I would be glad to loan you mine anytime, including the contest next weekend in Kansas City.

    Thanks, not sure I'm qualified right now. I'm still hoping to be able to fly in our contest this weekend. We got the box markers all set out last weekend, but I've been spending too much time at work to even get the SuperD out to practice ...and I may have to work through part or all of the contest. Someone just needs to give me a bunch of $$$ so I can retire and just fly

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