Aircraft like the Cub: When simple is simply better

John Zimmerman has written a great essay for the Air Facts Journal about how much there is to love about the simplicity of the Piper J-3 Cub where he began by writing:

The Cub seemed old fashioned, small, slow, drafty and hard to fly. What’s to love?

Plenty as John then wrote about how his father (also a pilot) had taken him to a grass strip before he had soloed for an introduction to “real flying.” However, it wasn’t just any grass strip as John’s father took him to Red PiperJ-3Cub02-w800-h600Stewart Field in Waynesville, Ohio – an airport founded right after World War II by a barnstormer with the same name. He built the airport using a box of dynamite and a bulldozer after he quit his job at Frigidaire when the plant manager told him to stop landing his airplane in the parking lot. Later, Red bought a new Cub and his most famous trick was to throw the control stick out the window and land with just power and trim.

Ironically, flying a Cub is not much different than Red’s barnstorming trick as John mentioned the uncomfortable feeling of approaching the aircraft with empty hands (as in no flight bag, headset or charts) and the fact that its instrument panel had only four gauges. Nevertheless, the next 45 minutes were the best in John’s logbook as he learned how to hand-prop an aircraft, 800px-Piper_Cub_cockpit-w800-h600communicate without a fancy headset and taxi when you can’t see anything. And once he was airborne, he discovered “runways” that he never knew existed where a Cessna would never be able to safely land. In other words, flying a Cub is flying at its best.

That’s probably why the Cub remains one of the most popular and best selling light sport aircraft today and no doubt will remain so for a long time to come. So the next time you want to do some “real flying,” leave the expensive pair of headsets, the GPS device and the iPad electronic flight bag at home and take a spin up in a Cub as no doubt you will enjoy the simplicity of it all!


One Response to Aircraft like the Cub: When simple is simply better

  1. Steve October 31, 2012 at 18:50 #

    Thanks for sharing. As you know, I learned to fly at Stewart (and still fly there today) so this one really hits home. You really can’t beat a Cub for simple flying and lots of fun!

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