The Decathlon 8KCAB traces its linage all the way back to the Aeronca Champ, through the 7KCAB Citabria. The Decathlon entered production in the United States in 1970.

The design offers tandem seating and center-stick controls. Access to the cockpit is through a single door on the starboard side. Unlike some other well-known aircraft, the entire heritage of aircraft is flown from the front seat with the passenger behind the pilot.

Although unseen, the metal fuselage is triangular in cross-section, covered in a combination of wooden formers and longerons, finished off with fabric and paint.

Wood is used quite extensively throughout construction, with wooden spar wings, although this was replaced in later models with an aluminium spar and as a retrofit installation if owners so wished. The strut-braced wings of the Decathlon are, like the fuselage and tail surfaces, fabric covered, using aluminium ribs. One of the major developments of the Decathlon over the Citabria is the wing, which employs a semi-symmetrical aerofoil, as opposed to the Citabria’s flat-bottomed aerofoil, giving the Decathlon better inverted flight and negative-g manoeuvre capabilities.

The gear is fixed spring gear with conventional tail wheel arrangement.

The fuel system incorporates a 1.5 gallon header tank beneath the instrument panel, to facilitate negative-g flight and the engine is fitted with a Christen Industries inverted oil system.

The Decathlon is built with several Lycoming IO-320 engine variants, all of 150 horsepower (110 kW), and with the choice of a fixed-pitch or constant speed propeller.

The engine is fuel injected, the same as the Citabria.

TheDecathlon is designed for flight training and personal use and is capable of aerobatics of +6g and −5g.

While the Citabria design remains successful, they are not capable of “outside” manoeuvres, with negative-g loads.

The 8KCAB Decathlon was built in response to this demand.

Super Decathlon

The major change of the Super Decathlon was the change of engine to the Lycoming AEIO-360-H1A or –H1B, both of 180 horsepower (130 kW), with a selection of constant speed propellers.

American Champion Xtreme

This model was introduced in 2012, powered by a 210 hp (157 kW) Lycoming AEIO-390-A1B6 engine driving an MT-Propeller 76 in (1.9 m) propeller. Other features are longer redesigned gear legs to accommodate the longer propeller, a new aerofoil-section squared off tailplane with 10% larger area, clipped wingtips and greater aileron effectiveness.

Famous people

Steve Fossett was flying a Bellanca-built Super Decathlon when he went missing on September 3, 2007. Remains of his aircraft were found 13 months later near the town of Mammoth Lakes, California, just south of the original search area.

James May, a presenter on the television series ‘Top Gear’owned an 8KCAB Decathlon with the registration G-OCOK, in reference to his catch-phrase, ‘O cock.”

This aircraft is still being produced by American Champion Aircraft Corporation

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