Tire kicker no longer

It’s been years. Going on decades almost. I’ve been humming and hawing for a very long time about what to do about an airplane. I've rented, I've ferried, I've flight instructed, I've done everything I can think of to putz around in little airplanes except buy one. Ever since I sold my Cherokee in 2007 I’ve considered building, I’ve considered buying, I’ve traveled to see airplanes, put out wanted ads, negotiated a little, but never pulled the trigger on anything. 

Until now. 

Last month I wired the cash for an awesome 1968 Citabria 7ECA. It’s got an O-235, metal spar, nice fabric and interior, ADS-B in & out, and door off & auto gas STCs. It's literally the perfect airplane for my mission--fun, poking around, and occasionally turning upside down.

It turns out a wanted ad on Barnstormers works really great. A couple of ads I had put out previously turned up all kinds of promising results, only maybe I was not asking for the right thing, and I never pulled the trigger. This time was different. After years of consideration I had a very specific request--a 7ECA with an O-235 (not O-200), decent fabric, mid-time engine, metal spar and ADS-B a plus. A couple of responses had some really nice airplanes, with 200 SMOH & brand new fabric and paint, but were about double what I was looking to pay. I wanted a something good but not necessarily flawless or brand new--a flying plane, not a show plane.

I got what I wanted. 9G has a higher time engine but newer cylinders, still really nice wing fabric after its metal spar replacement nearly twenty years ago, and serviceable fuselage fabric with room for some owner-maintenance improvement. I wanted to build an airplane (and might still), but this along with some necessary wheel pant fiberglass repairs will keep me tinkering enough to scratch that itch.

The interior is bare bones, as it should be, but with ADS-B in and a cigarette-lighter mounted iPhone running ForeFlight, one could not ask for more in a putz around plane. The seats are cushy and comfortable, and the floorboards were recently redone, giving it a more modern look than its nearly fifty years would indicate. 

It currently has large 8.5 tires on it, which are cool looking, but way over the top for my needs, and I'll be changing those at the first opportunity. For starters, although there are lots of dirt strips around me, they're all private hunting ranches, not anything exactly "backcountry" that those tires would support. Mainly they eat way too much into the useful load that brought me to the ECA to begin with.

There is no perfect airplane, but the 7ECA is the perfect balance for my mission. Flying jets during the week is fun, and most of the time doesn't even feel like work, but on weekends, pulling the door off and flying stick-and-rudder, low and slow at 500' AGL, or doing a quick loop and spin (different sortie, door back on of course!) is hands down the best fun money can buy.


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