Me Doing Aerobatics In The Bellanca Decathlon 8KCAB

The Roll

My flight log goes all the way back to 1984, when I took a few hours of initial instruction in a Cessna 150 east of San Diego while at SWOS on the Amphib Base, Coronado. Other than during a few flights with pilot friends in the interim, I didn’t get back at the controls in a training context for 21 years, in 2005. I wrote about that here and then here when I soloed at 16 hours of instruction.

But I hate all the loops, regulations, and procedures so once I had soloed a few times, then did a check ride with the chief instructor and got signed off to go fly around outside the pattern rather than be restricted to takeoff and landing practice, I soon kinda lost interest because I could already do what I wanted to do—go fly around for an hour or two. A few years later, 2010, I did have designs for a while in just getting a Sport Pilot license, which I already had the hours for. All I would need is the written exam and FAA check ride. It allows you to fly with one passenger, daylight only, and max aircraft weight of 1,300 lbs. Didn’t finish that, either.

But now that life is changing in so many ways, with postings to come over the course of time on all of it, I suddenly became motivated all over again. Most of my training and all solo fight has been in the Bellanca Citabria, a “tail dragger” which requires a bit more skill to fly, especially takeoff. The other day, I donned a parachute pack and jumped into the controls of the Bellanca Decathlon, a fully aerobatic version of the Citabria with a fuel and oil system for sustained inverted flight, and stressed to +6g — -5g. You can pretty much do any typical aerobatic maneuvers in it.


And so, Jim Grant and I headed out. I was at the control from takeoff to landing, except for when he demonstrated an aileron roll and a loop. I’d done dozens of spins and recovery in the Citabria, so no need for that.

So, in the short video, you’ve got the takeoff, then a loop, then the aileron roll which was a bit sloppy from the inverted to level flight. I should have had the stick forward a bit more. The second one was better, but Jim didn’t have the video going. Finally, two spins. The first one is at regular speed and the second, I edited it to slow motion.

I’d have liked to have my landing videoed but in good sense, Jim says, “Nope, been too long, too close to the ground and I have to have my hands free.” Good call, Jim.


Can’t say enough about Jim Grant. He’s been my certified flight instructor since day one in 2005. Over 6,000 hours of instruction, no mishaps. Total pro. If you’re in the Bay Area and are looking for fun, I’d have no other instructor to recommend to you.

You can get in contact with Jim through Aerodynamic Aviation at the Reid Hillview Airport (RHV) in San Jose.

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.

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