YouTube – Citabria
Max. Speed Vne:
22 ft. 1 in.
34 ft. 5 in.
36 U.S. gals.
The Citabria, produced by American Champion Aircraft Co. (formerly Belanca) first flew in 1964. The Citabria was the first U.S. made aircraft certified for aerobatic flight by the FAA .
The tandem seat Citabria is still being produced today. It is used for training, general utility, and especially by pilots who want the fun of flying a relatively inexpensive FAA certified aircraft capable of performing light aerobatics at forces of up to +5 or – 2 G’s. If you turn the name around, Citabria is airbatic.
The Citabria is available in four models. What became the Aurora was the first model introduced. It was powered by a Continental O-200-A engine producing 100 h.p. A Lycoming O-235-K2C engine producing 115 h.p.was introduced in 1967. The Citabria initially had wood spar wings and oleo-shock landing gear. In 1967 the landing gear legs were changed to spring steel. In 1995 metal-spar wings were introduced and aluminum landing gear legs became standard in 2004.
The Citabria Adventure was introduced in 1965. It differed from the Aurora in that it featured a Lycoming O-320-A2B engine producing 150 h.p. In 1997, horsepower was increased by ten with the introduction of the Lycoming O-320-B2B engine. An Ultimate Adventure model is powered by a Superior Vantage O-360-A3A2 engine producing 180 h.p. turning a composite propeller.
The Citabria Explorer was also available in 1965 with the 150 h.p. engine and a one foot longer wingspan that featured landing flaps. The aircraft also received the 160 h.p. Lycoming O-320-B2B engine in 1997. A High Country Explorer model with the 180 h.p. engine, composite propeller and larger wheels is an option.
A Citabria “B” package was introduced in 1968 making extended inverted flights possible. A fuel injected Lycoming IO-320-E2A producing 150 h.p. with a 1 1/2 gallon header fuel tank and a Christian Industries inverted oil system are featured.
Flying the Citabria
The cockpit of the Citabria has been described by some of its pilots as comfortable as any airplane every built. The quality of the interior is fairly well done, with an excellent instrument panel. A small panel on the left side of the pilot, above his head, contains the mags and all the switches.
All around visibility from the cabin of the Citabria is excellent. For pilots of average height, the center line is visible over the nose of the aircraft with just a bit of stretching.
The Citabria is among the easiest of tail dragger aircraft to taxi. Once one is familiar with the aircraft, takeoff is also easy. The Citabria goes exactly where pointed on its takeoff roll, with only slight rudder pressure necessary to maintain a straight line. Pilots tell us that it is virtually impossible to lose the airplane on takeoff.
The 150 hp Citabria makes an excellent short field aircraft. It can get into the air in less than 200 feet. Climbout is good, as the aircraft is ready to fly almost as soon as the tail comes up.
Compared with most similar size present day aircraft, control of the Citabria is somewhat stiff. However, so long as you have the strength to move the stick, the Citabria will do exactly as told. There is sufficient elevator travel to stall the aircraft in practically any attitude or airspeed. The break is quite crisp, with the resumption of neutral elevator necessary to regain control. Release of elevator back pressure will get the Citabria back on track. Even when stalled inverted, on the top of a loop, it will half-roll out and put you right side up again.
The Citabria makes a great aerobatic trainer for those willing to work at it. It will fly inside maneuvers fairly well, yet you can be comfortable in that you can’t pull hard enough on the stick or fly fast enough to really get into trouble. The aircraft will generally stall before excess G loads are reached. About the only way to reach red line speed is in a long dive.
It is necessary to push the stick as far forward as possible to fly inverted in the Citabria due to the flat bottom wing. The 150 h.p. engine Citabria does a credible job of holding altitude during most aerobatics.
A straight in, three point landing in a Citabria, when there is little crosswind, is as easy as landing almost any other taildragger. It will roll absolutely straight. If you crab the aircraft in on a windy day, you must be ready to use its very effective rudder to keep it from careening across the runway. Over controlling the aircraft is possible, so its best to give the Citabria its head, get it momentarily stabilized, and then add gentle rudder or brake pressure to get it straight.
A total of over 5,200 Citabria aircraft of all types have been built to date.
We received the following email from Marcus Kellermann of Marcus Model Factory: “Enclosed is a picture of the RC Citabria, built by me, Marcus Kellermann. It is the prototype of my 30% scale RC Citabria kit from the Marcus Model Factory. It has a 120 in. wingspan and uses 50 cc power.”Thank you, Marcus. That is a great looking Citabria.
Dumas has a rubber powered RC Citabria kit with a 17 1/2 in. wingspan, and an electric motor.
The Great Planes RC Citabria ARF features all wood construction and has working flaps. It has a wingspan of 85 in. and a length of 62 in. Power can come from 30 to 35 cc gas engines or a 1.60 brushless motor. Weight is around 16 lbs.
Balsa USA has the RC Citabria for sale in a kit. It has an 80 in. wingspan, a length of 54.5 in. and is made from balsa and ply. It uses .90 to 1.20 four cycle or .60 to .90 two cycle engines and weighs around 11.25 lbs.