Entry 001: The Deal

I've been looking for a bird for a long time. I found the listing for my Citabria on a local classifieds website, which was a little strange considering most aircraft are listed in places where they can be seen by pilots all across the country. That was an advantage to me as it meant there wasn't a whole lot of serious interest in the airplane.

The whole process from seeing the listing to forking over the cash went surprisingly fast, too fast really. That haste will very likely be the cause of future troubles, but what is done is done. I did a lot of research on this particular Citabria, C-FAXB, before I even looked at it. I found the previous owner and gave him a call. Actually, just talking to his wife about the airplane first gave me the distinct feeling that he could be trusted as he had nothing to gain from lying about a past sale. We talked for a long time and he told me of the many issues the Citabria has. Overall, he thought it was an amazing airplane and sold it simply because he is buying a kit to build a helicopter.

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There was a time constraint as the owner was going on a long vacation to the central america. It was literally now or never. I made a decision based on several factors. I decided it was a decent deal and I was willing to take a considerable risk. If I were to build an equivalent airplane myself, it would likely cost me $50-60k along with the 1000 hours or so it would take me. I would then have a brand new airplane with a brand new motor, but I don't mind things that are a little beat up. In fact, I prefer things that are sound, but don't look that great cosmetically. It is the same reason why I like driving beat up pickup trucks around the farm...you don't notice the extra dent.

I met the seller in a little town called Nanton since he wanted to get the money in his bank account before he left on his trip tomorrow morning. I forked over an $18k certified cheque and he forked over the keys. We did the paperwork after the bank closed. Just sitting with him and chatting about the bird for a bit more, I felt of his honesty. He never tried to intentionally hide problems from me. He tried to relay as many of the quirks and problems to me as he could.


With the keys and paperwork in hand, I decided to go make sure everything was in order at the airfield. I can tell you that this airplane is exactly what I have been looking for. This aircraft is still in production by American Champion Aircraft Corporation and it has an engine which is still in full production by Lycoming. Because of this, parts support should be a cakewalk! Additionally, I have the choice of doing my own maintenance or hiring it done since it operates under a Special Certificate of Airworthiness for amateur-built aircraft.


C-FAXB was once a certified airplane, built by Champion Aircraft Corporation. In 2004 it underwent a complete rebuild by a man named Jean-Paul Lariviere and was registered as an amateur-built. I did my research on the man. He has since passed, but he is listed as the manufacturer of at least four aircraft in the Transport Canada aircraft registry. Judging by the serial number of the Citabria and the serial numbers of the others in the registry, this bird wasn't his first rodeo.


So, I don't really talk about the fact that I bought an airplane in typical conversation. Why? People seem to have this view that airplanes are for the rich and therefore if you own one, you are rich. They can think what they want, but I assure you I am not rich. It is all a matter of priority. I don't have the latest and greatest gadgets, in fact as of this writing, I still actively use a Nokia 6340i along with a NEC MobilePro 900 to take care of my mobile computing and communication needs, both of which I purchased used off eBay years ago. The purchase price on this airplane is less than I paid for my car, although I will be spending some money to get it ship shape. This bird is worth a lot less than the typical pickup truck you see around here. Just think, if you didn't waste money buying electronic gadgets and everyday luxuries that add up, you could own an airplane! 


Oh! It came with a set of Federal straight skis as well! I've been debating selling them since the snow is transient around here in the winter due to the chinook winds. Wheel skis might be a lot more useful. We shall see!

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