Most pilots among you have heard of the Vans Aircraft marketing slogan of the “RV grin”. Well, after almost 20 years I had the chance to rediscover the pure joy of flying the Piper Cub … and I wasn’t able to wipe that grin off my face for the next couple of hours … the proverbial and above mentioned “Cub Grin”. Those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to fly one yet might wonder what’s so special about the experience. Well, first of all it’s a delight to fly. Responsive, easy on the controls, honest. A pilots airplane. Which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its share of challenges. First of all, for those who have never flown an airplane with conventional gear (a.k.a. taildragger) it sure does require some extra attention during taxi, take off, and landing. And if you ever stall a Cub while slipping in a turn, well, you are up to a real surprise that’ll wake you up. But apart of that, it’s pure fun. Sitting right on the centerline of the fuselage, the view is stunning. It almost feels like sitting in free air. Breathtaking. The slow speed of the Cub – we’re talking 80 to 90 mph – contributes to the experience. Flying the Cub means you have all the time in the world. Just lean back and enjoy the ride. Flying the Cub means flying low and slow. And flying low is … well … it just makes the experience REALLY worthwile. It makes a huge difference if you fly in 2000′ or in 500′. Unbelievable how much you can see once you leave the high tech, high, and fast world we all are accustomed to nowadays, even as GA pilots.
Talking about “high tech” … None of that on board in our Cub. One VHF Com, working only if the battery was properly charged over night since there is no generator on board, and that’s it. Boy, do I love it to go back to the basics and to get out my trusted old E6-B, a 1:200.000 map (standard ICAO 1:500.000 is way too small for that type of navigation) and navigating with a magnetic compass and a clock. It almost brings back old barnstormer romantic feelings.
What else do I like abbot the Cub? Rugged, great payload, great CG range. Ever wondered about these overload discussions of modern day ultralight and VLA designs? Well, at least in Germany it’s a huge problem these days. Most Ultralight aircraft can’t be legally flown with two adults and a full fuel tank on board. stupid, isn’t it? Look at the Cub and see that a reasonable design IS possible.
So, what else to say – if you have the chance to fly a Cub – do it! Don’t hesitate. Go for it. Get that Cub grin on YOUR face. And share your experience with me, I’d love to hear from you!
Always blue skies …
P.S.: Our Piper Cub is actually a Super Cub with a Continental C90 Engine with 90hp. It was originally used as a basic trainer in the GAF under the designation L-18 and was transferred to the Air Force Fling Club. After various stations it found its way to our flying club and is flying with its original markings and paint scheme.