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Flying a Chipmunk

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Flying a Chipmunk

Old 14th Aug 2006, 18:21
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Join Date: Apr 2006
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Flying a Chipmunk


soon i shall be changing over from a PA-28 to the chippie

Any advice other than "remember to bring my feet with me"?

I've been told the handling characteristics are really good on this aeroplane - but I am wondering, how good are they?

also - where can I buy a flight suit other than transair?
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Old 14th Aug 2006, 18:47
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The flight isn't over until the engine stops - you'll need to 'fly' it on the ground much more so than with the PA28. So constantly be aware of where the wind is coming from, and apply controls accordingly.
Flight suits from Mart Aviation, perhaps?
Only other advice is, if it's the Chipmunk I think it is, DON'T BREAK IT
Old 14th Aug 2006, 20:39
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: UK
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My favourite aeroplane!

Make sure you a get a good instructor to check you out, etc.

Have you flown a tailwheel a/c before? On ab initio instruction in the Chipmunk I used to teach the take off in two stages. Student to handle throttle and rudders only until he can keep it more or less straight. Then a few take offs with student on throttle and stick only. Put the two together and I have taught the take off in one detail! Throw the lot at them and they can be all over the place. That said once mastered it's a piece of cake!

Landing - once all three wheels on the ground - get the stick FULLY back and hold it there - this will ensure extra directional control during the landing roll-out.

It a GREAT machine and a delight to fly - Happy Flying!
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Old 14th Aug 2006, 21:03
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Great fun to fly, you'll never fly a PA28 again! The chippie I fly has been converted to a Lycoming, so sadly its no longer aerobatic but still good fun. Very light and responsive, a real delight. The wheel brake set up takes a little getting used to but soon becomes second nature. Other than that I cant think of any real vice's, flies just like any other taildragger. Just a pity there's only 2 hours in the tanks, not really a 'go places' machine(I suppose it was never designed to be though)!
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Old 14th Aug 2006, 21:13
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Indeed the flight is not over when the engine stops

Last edited by nosewheelfirst; 14th Aug 2006 at 21:23.
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Old 14th Aug 2006, 21:20
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Join Date: Jun 2006
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I recently converted on to the Chipmunk - first attempt at taxying and I was wondering what on earth I was letting myself in for, but six hours later was signed off and solo. Like riding a bike after that. Today I flew G-HDAE (Airborne Classics Ltd) fresh from it's CofA (public cat) to Enstone where it will be on the flying club fleet for tailwheel conversions. Just fantastic to be up in the Chippy again after a few weeks in the workshop.

I think top quality instruction is key to a successful conversion. Aim to nail one thing at a time as it's easy to feel that you've been thrown in the deep end.

Photo of G-HDAE here:
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Old 14th Aug 2006, 21:22
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nosewheelfirst - or in my case, the flight wasn't over WHEN the engine stopped....
Old 14th Aug 2006, 21:34
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Do some serious study about the theory of tailwheel flights, and ask your instructor about any uncertain points.

In particular, think about -

* How to taxi when you cannot see over the nose.

* Memorise the taxi attitude as it will come in handy later when flaring.

* Control positions whilst taxiing with various headwind/tailwind and crosswind components.

* Gyroscopic precession and Assymetric Advancing Blade effects, and again how crosswind can help/hinder.

* Possibly opposite rudder inputs from previous types.
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Old 14th Aug 2006, 21:36
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De Havilland Canada's Chipmunk

A330 Dreamer,

In addition to what has been said so far, with all of which I thoroughly concur, I would say the following.

With the best will in the world, flying the Pa28 you are used to, with its soggy handling and control yoke, is like driving a lorry. The Chipmunk, with its crisp, finger-light, sensitive handling is like a small and agile sports car by comparison. It will find and show up any shortcomings in your airmanship, that's why it was the RAF's primary trainer for so long, so get a good instructor and go carefully.

One thing you will probably never have seen before is its 'P Type' grid ring compass in front of the control column and almost between your knees. I think you will find this infinitely superior to the little plastic things we use today.

Chipmunk is fully aerobatic. In particular, you can experience spinning in it, although you must not go beyond six turns or she goes flat.

I do envy you your chance to fly this lovely little aeroplane: enjoy it, it's special.

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Old 14th Aug 2006, 23:53
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Join Date: Oct 1999
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You are privaledged! I have been flying our Chippy, G-BCSL, since 1979 and it is my favorite aeroplane.

The Chippy is not at all difficult in any way - service pilots soloed it from zero flying experience in very few hours. But it is demanding to fly it well, which I hope is your aim.

If you can taxy it consistantly accurately and well, you can fly it. Coming from the PA28 you will be amazed at how aeroplanes can (and should) handle once you've flown a Chippy - you will not want to go back to the Cherrytree for pure flying fun. It will bore the pants off you after the DHC1. But the PA28 is a practical A to B tourer, which the lovely Chippy, with its 18 gallons of fuel, no luggage space, and limited nav facilities is not.

These machines are becoming ever more difficult to keep in the air due limited spares availabilty - so try not to break anything. And make very sure your instructor emphasises and trains you in sympathetic engine handling that the vintage Gipsy requires if it is to live to a reasonable number of hours.

But most of all - enjoy!

Here's me in the front seat of our's (care of the excellent DamianB) having just started up at Woburn deer park at the dH Moth rally last August, for return to Liverpool John Lennon where we are based:

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Old 15th Aug 2006, 04:23
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Don't sit back and relax when you've just put the wheels on the deck. A nosewheel jobbie will tend to be self steering on the ground - a tailwheel will be just the opposite. You will be very busy between touchdown and getting down to taxi speed.
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Old 17th Aug 2006, 15:02
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Glasgow
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I agree with you on that India Mike, dont bend it, Flightsuits are ok but being in the US youll be paying quite a bit for P&P as well as import tax as well I suspect. Don't use transair its a bit pricey, try mart aviation or ebay for that matter.
Buy yourself a pair of RAF capeskin gloves (again dont go to transair) best bit of kit ever
In addition to the flightsuits you could have your own made (and tailored possibly) by Jays/Jaybrand racewear its what I use and has come from a well known vintage military aircraft operator
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Old 17th Aug 2006, 20:28
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Join Date: Jun 2006
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I'd steer clear of expensive flight gear, as it is definitely going to get dirty during the post-flight clean up. I use an old RAF flying suit - zip pockets, sleeve pen holders and calf map pockets are essential as it's your only in-flight storage in the Chippy, and you can't pick up anything you drop (worse still, dropped items could end up somewhere you really don't want them). Gloves are definitely useful - apart from keeping clean, and grip, there are opportunities for snagging your hands on bits of locking wire, etc around the cockpit.

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Old 17th Aug 2006, 21:06
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What were they thinking?!

Originally Posted by ACL
I'm not sure that that is the absolute worst paint scheme that I've ever seen ... but certainly it is a contender!
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Old 17th Aug 2006, 22:17
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....you must not go beyond six turns or she goes flat
That's interesting, the flight test schedule calls for an eight turn spin in each direction and I've never known one 'go flat'.
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Old 20th Aug 2006, 19:44
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SLOOOOOW with the throttle when bunging on power - otherwise the Gypsy has a habit of getting a bit upset which is not what you want just when you need it

Also if the landing is looking even a bit wonky, chuck it away and go around - certainly untill you get proficient and most definitely if you are landing on tarmac. Bouncing is not good for the old girl.

Try and keep the tail up as long as you can (if you are doing rollers and not 3-pointers) as some aircraft have a nasty habit of shimmying the tailwheel.

And as most have said, the flight isn't over until the engine has stopped & don't be 'bullied' by ATC to expidite a vacate - I did that once and very nearly ended up pointing the wrong way. Remember where the G of G is and that the tail will always want to lead when you are on the ground.

Most of all, have a damned good time flying a real airplane. I still fly a PA28 mostly as the wife really doesn't much like the 'squeezed in' feeling of the back seat of the Chippy, but I have to have a regular fix whenever I can. You won't regret converting to type and whilst it isn't a Spitfire, it still has some solid history in training the elite.
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Old 20th Aug 2006, 20:01
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A wonderful aircraft and, once you've got used to it, a joy to fly.

Described recently by a distinguished test pilot with numerous more exotic types in his logbook as having the best control harmonisation of all aircraft he'd flown.

Happy memories from just a few years ago evoked by BEagle in another forum recently - Link

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Old 21st Aug 2006, 04:21
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A lot of PPLs will go "Ooh, taildraggers!" usually accompanied by a sucking of teeth or a shake of the head when the Chippy is mentioned. Don't let them put you off. The Chippy is one of the easiest aircraft to fly ever built- it's just different and it's learning the differences which will take the time. If it seems to take longer than expected don't despair. You will find it will just click after a while. It's an amazing aircraft for instilling confidence and has the nicest handling of any light aircraft I have ever flown. I learnt to fly in the RAF on the Chippy and soloed in 8hr20. Later in my career, I instructed on it for three years and sent some people solo in less time than that. Interestingly, those who arrived with some flying experience in spam cans had no advantage over those with no experience.

A few points:

The taxying attitude is the same as the landing attitude. Remember it. Also, most Chippy accidents happen on the ground. Get the nose weaving and never taxy into an enclosed space without being confident you have room. It's much safer to stop the engine and push the aircraft. Keep the stick back when taxying except when taxying downwind in strong winds when the stick should be neutral otherwise you run the risk of a gust getting under the elevator and tipping the tail up.

The approach speed is 60 knots with full flap. Exceed that by even a couple of knots and you will find it floats and makes the landing harder. Nail 60 knots and you will find it much easier to land. However, it is stable on the approach and easier than a PA28 to maintain speed. The crosswind limit in RAF sevice was 15knts. This is an airframe limit and you will find you will run out of rudder at 16 knots if you try to exceed it in a three point landing. You can increase it by 'wheeling' on and using the rudder/brake, but this is groundloop territory and your instructor shouldn't be teaching it at the conversion stage.

Groundlooping is one of the horror stories you will hear from the uninitiated. It happens because on the ground a taildragger's c of g is behind the wheels and will try to overtake the wheels if there is any drag from them. Prime groundloop conditions are light crosswinds with no headwind. Be aware of it and be prompt with the use of rudder. If it starts to go, don't be too quick to use differential brake - you will proabably exacerbate the situation. And if you do groundloop, don't worry. The aircraft is very strong and damage is unlikely with the castering tailwheel. I have experienced maybe a couple of dozen with no damage.

Be careful about using the brake lever on the ground. Use if harshly on the landing roll, you might find the tail lifting. And if you have any rudder applied when you use it, the brake will come on that side first.

You will fly aerobatics - the aircraft is designed for it and it's delightful. In the RAF syllabus, students often could fly a loop before first solo and were cleared solo aerobatics at 30 hours. However, it's not an Extra 300 and those aeros will have to be gentle. Pull lots of g at once and you will lose too much speed and use up lots of valuable height. The engine has a basic carburettor and will stop when inverted. It stops because the float goes to what is now the top of the float chamber and opens the jet fully. This leads to a 'rich cut' and too much fuel is the reason for the engine stopping. Close the throttle while inverted and you will find the engine picks up much quicker. Learn stall turns to the right first. Going left is opposing the engine rotation and much harder. If you mess up an aerobatic manouevre and think you're going to tailslide, hold the controls very firmly in the central position. If they 'snatch' to full deflection, airframe damage is probable.

The Chipmunk spin is very stable. It was cleared up to eight turns in RAF service, four turns loses you about a 1000' with another 300' for the recovery and is much more comfortable. The Chippy incipient spin stage is the first 360 degrees which is easily recoverd by centralising the controls.


Last edited by Dan Winterland; 21st Aug 2006 at 04:32.
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Old 21st Aug 2006, 05:32
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Join Date: Jul 2000
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The RAF still retains two Chipmunks on charge for pilot training.

They are assigned to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and used for conversion and continuation training. Pilots selected for the BBMF usually have no previous tail-wheel experience - unless they gained it outside the RAF.

One of them, WK518, is a very special Chipmunk

Very special to me anyway - I did my first solo in it in 1971.
(The picture posted by BEagle - link in my previous post - is probably of WD345 which was the aircraft I usually flew, as did he.)

WK518 was delivered to the RAF in January 1952 and started its service life at Cranwell. It subsequently served with the University of London Air Squadron at what was then RAF White Waltham, and eventually went to the BBMF in 1983.

54 years continuous service.

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Old 21st Aug 2006, 06:44
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Get your instructor to climb to 5,000 feet and demonstrate what can go wrong if you are low and slow on your base turn to final. Ease her back to about 50 kts and turn steeply..... wow ! It will teach you to have a lot of respect for airspeed.

Enjoy it !
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