If the currently marketed American Citabria resembles an aeroplane from a bygone era, it is with good reason. The Citabria – the name is “Airbatic”, spelled backwards – was developed from the Aeronca Champion (itself an evolution of Aeronca’s pre-war Model 50). Champion Aircraft, who had inherited the Champion design from Aeronca in 1954, further developed the design with a larger, square tail, enlarged rear windows and more power. The airframe however remained a fabric covered taildragger and initially at least had a wooden spar.
Champion Aircraft manufactured the Citabria until 1972, when it was acquired by Bellanca, who continued to produce the design until its demise in 1983. After a hiatus, American Champion first began producing parts for Citabria in 1987 and then manufacturing new aircraft in 1990, and continues to this day.
The Citabria is a tandem 2 seat light aircraft certified for aerobatics. First introduced in 1964 as the 7ECA model, subsequent versions acquired more power and, in the case of the 7KCAB, a header tank and fuel injection system facilitating extended inverted flight. Well over 5000 have been produced since its introduction. Though the more aerobatic Decathlon and more rugged Scout models later joined the range, the Citabria remains a popular aerobatic and back country aircraft, and is also a popular model for difference training, introducing many pilots to taildragger undercarriage and other vintage aircraft characteristics.
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