Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Carbon Dating

Beautiful, refined, muscled like a linebacker: a Cub for the hotrod soul

He's a big man. Played football in his youth. Could pass for Paul Newman's brother. Has flown airplanes for decades, and is recently retired from 30 some years as an airline captain. So what draws him, with all his aviation experience, to the cockpit of the CubCrafters Carbon Cub SS? John Moreland's large frame and broad shoulders fill a goodly part of my forward view as we fire up the engine. The answer will have to wait for now—it's showtime.

One thing about flying a Cub-like taildragger: In the rear seat on the ground, it's a bit like riding up that first steep climb on a roller coaster. Everything seems to hang above you, with thrills to come just a few heart-tickling seconds away.

There are plenty of good views on either side of the SS through the side windows, even in the rear bucket. And since the Carbon Cub SS is in fact a thoroughly modernized Super Cub-style airplane—with a honking outsized (for an S-LSA) engine up front to charge even the most jaded pilot's excitations—it needs to be flown solo from the front seat.

But being a bit of a Cubbie traditionalist, I've asked Mr. Moreland if I can fly from the rear just to compare apples to apples. And a note of appreciation: This is a customer's airplane—Dr. Alan Maurer is the happy owner—and he's decked it out to the nines, including a special Garmin G3X custom panel.

For the record: Taildragger drivers know viewing ahead from the rear seat requires fish-tailing during taxi. From the Carbon Cub's front seat, forward view is sufficient for seeing over the cowl (I'm 5'11").

And now for a word from our power-plant, the 180hp CC340: Rawrrrrr! Zip, the tail is up, and yes, I can now see past Big John, and okay, we should lift off any...whoa...there goes the ground, dropping away at somewhere around 2,000 fpm at a freakish deck angle and, Holy Hannah, but this puppy's got some mojo!

I do confess to having flown the Carbon Cub SS before and know what to expect. But hey: We're pilots. Some things just fire your rockets every time, and Carbon Cub's climb is for sure one of them.

So much for comparing apples to apples. If I were in my J3 right now, I'd still be scraping the treetops instead of blasting skyward past startled hawks!

Labels: LSAsPilot Reports

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