Earning My Pax Rating: Many 'Firsts' With This Decathlon Ride11:15 PM
Airplanista Blog Editor
In my continuing series on how I'm earning my "Passenger Rating" after selling my Cherokee 235 this year, I recently enjoyed a great ride with a fellow EAA Chapter 1457 member, Ray Beverly, in his 1972 Decathlon. This outing produced many 'firsts' for me...and while it was really just a scenic flight over the fall colors popping below us in Oregon's Willamette Valley, it will be remembered for a while.
As we taxied out, I waved off an offer to handle the plane, simply because I have never driven a tailwheel airplane, and did not feel up to learning. That also went for takeoff...because in 20+ years of flying, I have never touched a control stick, with my hours all being behind yokes. With 0.0 of time in airplanes with the nose gear moved way back under the tail, I decided to let Ray get us aloft...which happened in about 700 feet of runway!
Since I have never been in a spin before, I cannot compare this to anything else. But as soon as Ray chopped the power, pulled up into a stall, and stabbed left rudder, Two Charlie Alpha spun very fast, and in a fraction of a second, we were staring straight down at the farms below as they went around rapidly. Of course, he easily recovered right on the exact line to complete the spins as promised, but what it taught me was this: I never realized how aggressive a spin can be, and could easily see how a pilot without spin training could get screwed up in seconds. By the time we completed 1.5 turns in our second spin, my head was starting to wonder which way was up. If I were alone as PIC in the clouds, or trying to horse a plane into a small strip in windy conditions and got myself in this condition without any training, it would have been lights out.
"Any person wishing to act as a licensed general aviation passenger with all the privileges herein granted with the Passenger Rating shall have no less than ONE (1) flight in a 1972 Decathlon, color of red and white. Such flight may also be flown in a Citabria, Aeronca or Aviat Husky, but a Cessna 152 Aerobat may be used only with prior written approval of the local FSDO Supervisor. This flight must occur with a PIC having logged hours in a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Northrop T-38 Talon, Van's RV-6, -7, -8, -9, -10 and -12 and Citation X.
Yep, I am one step closer to my passenger rating. I would be lying if I said I don't miss being PIC right now, but this role suits me fine. Sure, the rust is building up, but rust can be buffed out when the time comes. Just being up in the sky with my EAA pals is completely OK with me right now, and my cash contribution to their gas fund is a cheap price to pay to build stronger bonds with a bunch of great people.