Rich, I know you can’t see the ball from the back seat, but if you could, you’d be rolling with laughter,” I said. I was flying Rich Manor’s new Super Decathlon in left-echelon formation 20 feet from our old friend Saratoga SP photo ship, and my lazy feet were out of practice at flying an airplane with considerable adverse yaw. The ball bounced back and forth out of its cage as I maneuvered on the Saratoga, the slip indicator only occasionally stopping in the center. It had been several years since I’d flown a Super Decathlon, and my rusty technique showed. Gotta unlearn those bad habits, I thought. Too many hours in Mooneys/Bonanzas/Malibus/Centurions and other modern designs that forgive poor rudder coordination.
The good news was that the new American Champion 8KCAB was an absolute joy to hold in place for Jim Lawrence’s camera. The fast ailerons and sensitive elevator provided quick response for maneuvering on the photo ship, balanced by a high drag profile that allowed me to drive the airplane into position with power and stop it exactly where I wanted it by simply easing back on the throttle (an interesting contrast to the previous day’s air-to-air session in a Citation CJ-2, a slightly cleaner design). I even tried some rolls, loops and hammerheads for Lawrence’s lens, and the responsive taildragger was forgiving and obviously more proficient than I was.