Billy Sylvester nails the Wheel Landing

And, since he had already shown proficiency in normal and x-wind landings and go-arounds, Billy had (more than) fulfilled the requirements for receiving a tailwheel endorsement.  

Billy next to the Super Decathlon at Leesburg Airport

 Billy recently earned his private pilot certificate and is only a few days away from his instrument check ride, but still, in parallel with all that, he decided to sharpen his piloting skills with a tailwheel endorsement. Nothing sharpens your skills like flying a tailwheel airplane without flaps. 

Next step will be spin training and commercial maneuvers.


Jorgen Valkaer, CFI, CFII, MEI

Thomas Washington earns Commercial Single Engine in The Super Decathlon

Thomas Washington Adding ASELThomas Washington is a test pilot with Aurora Flight Sciences and spends most of his time test flying twins. In the Air Force he also flew a twin – the A10.

When Thomas decided to add the “Airplane Single Engine Land (ASEL)” rating to his civilian Pilot Certificate, he decided to do it in a fun airplane – the Super Decathlon. Having already earned a Commercial Pilot Certificate in a complex (flaps and retract) twin airplane, there is no need for that stuff when adding a single engine rating, so the Super Decathlon is a perfect airplane for this task.

Thomas is btw. not new to flying single engine airplanes. In the Air Force he also did some flying in a single – the F16.

As expected, Thomas aced the check ride with examiner Jerry Knouff.


Jorgen Valkaer, CFI (tailwheel and more)

The Decathlon has a new GPS

N878AC was born before the age of the fancy GPSs. It did have an older Garmin GPS and for people used to the SFRA and the Leesburg maneuvering area, that was fine. However, if you are less familiar with the area, maybe you want to make 100% sure that you do not wander into an area where you are not supposed to be (even that this might present the chance of flying in formation with an F-16). Also, the radio portion of the old GPS was a bit unreliable.

For these reasons and to make things easier for everybody, we have had a Garmin GNS430 installed in the airplane. You can find a quick reference guide in the resources area of this web site ( And, the AOPA Safety Institute has a short interactive (free) training module here:




Prevent Loss of Control

On the 2015 NTSB most wanted list, you will find “Prevent Loss of Control in Flight in General Aviation” (see

Loss of ControlThe reason why we see Loss of Control on the list is that between 2001 and 2011, over 40 percent of fixed-wing GA fatal accidents occurred because pilots lost control of their airplanes.

The definition and various classifications of Loss of Control (LOC) are complex, but the basic problem is not. In a number of different situations,

  • Pilots fail to recognize that they are losing control
  • Pilots fail to react correctly when they realize that they are losing control

The NTSB has a number of suggestions on how to prevent Loss of Control. We have an additional suggestion:

Come fly the Decathlon ( Experience loss of control in a safe environment. Discover what losing control feels like (we will help safely place you in the attitude for the specific LOC exercise), and even more important, discover that you are in fact capable of getting the airplane out of a stall, a spin entry, even a developed spin, inverted flight and other unusual attitudes. Repeat recovery until it becomes an instinctive response that will make you react correctly if you ever get into an emergency situation.

To do this, you do not need to get a tailwheel endorsement, get checked out in the Decathlon or get into any hairy aerobatics beyond what you are interested in. You just need to book your instructor for some ground training and one or more flights in a suitable airplane.

Other suggestions, such as installing AOA indicators, are certainly extremely valuable. However, in your mind, what compares to practicing the correct response over and over until it becomes second nature?

Maverick says it: ” You don’t have time to think up there!”

Call Jorgen at (615) 495-7266 to schedule training in the Super Decathlon at Leesburg Executive Airport (KJYO).

How to stop your iPad from asking you to sign up for a cellular plan

Maybe you got a new iPad for Christmas or maybe you simply bought a new one yourself like me. I bought a new iPad Mini 3, hoping to get better performance when running ForeFlight. Of course I bought the “Wi-Fi + Cellular” version, so that I would be able to use ForeFlight in the airplane without necessarily having to connect to an external GPS (because the cellular version of the iPad has a built-in GPS, while the Wi-Fi only version does not).  I had however no intention of actually signing up for a cellular plan, but simply to disable “Cellular Data”.

You will quickly find out that if you don’t disable “Cellular Data”, then the iPad every time you are not within Wi-Fi coverage will ask you if you want to sign up for a cellular plan and your options are “now or later”. Hitting “later” will as advertised cause the iPad to repeat the question later.

With my previous iPad I went to:

Settings -> Cellular Data

and set “Cellular Data” to “Off”.

So, with my new iPad I planned to do the same. However, the option to turn off cellular data had disappeared. Your only option now is to sign up with one of the carriers. I did not intent to do that, so would I have to hit the “later” button 17 times on every flight for the rest of my life (unless I always connect to my external Stratus GPS via Wi-Fi, but that kinda takes away the idea of having an iPad with internal GPS)?

Luckily there is a answer to the problem. You actually do sign up for a plan. You select T-Mobile as the carrier and select their “200MB/30 day Free Data for Life” plan. You can do this by giving them your email address only – credit card number is not required. Whether you want to use the plan or not is up to you. I only signed up to get the “Cellular Data” off-button back…

Leaking fuel line

Leaking fuel lineN878AC had to be taken off-line for maintenance this last week of December. The reason was a small leak in a fuel line. You might remember that the Decathlon has a small 3rd fuel tank located under the instrument panel. This is the header tank used for inverted flight (2 minutes of fuel). There is a fuel line going out from that tank just above the left rudder pedal (see picture on the left). Maintenance believe that the leak might have been caused by somebody accidentally kicking or resting a foot on the fuel line while getting in or out of the front seat. Hopefully we’ll get the parts for the repair soon and have N878AC back for you to fly. Thanks for flying N878AC.

Dave Kottra earns Tailwheel Endorsement

Dave Kottra gets tailwheel endorsement

On a cold Sunday morning, December 21, 2014, Dave Kottra headed to Leesburg to start working on the last phase of his Super Decathlon Tailwheel Endorsement – Wheel Landings. In previous lessons, he had gone through the required normal and cross-wind landings including go-around procedures (and more). In this Sunday’s lesson, Dave discovered that not only are wheel landings not as difficult as you might think, they are also fun. After demonstrating at Winchester Airport that he also mastered this part of the tailwheel universe, a few celebrating loops were performed on the way back to Leesburg where his logbook received the endorsement that “he is proficient in the operation of a tailwheel airplane”. Even after not flying for 10 years, Dave completed his Tailwheel Endorsement in the minimum of time normally set aside for this accomplishment!

Congratulations and Happy Holidays,

Jorgen Valkaer, CFI