Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cubbing Around

A light-sport blend of old-school nostalgia and modern technology

cubbingIn a sky filled with high-performance pistons, turboprops and jets that speed to their destination, there’s still something undeniably irresistible about a little yellow Cub. Puttering around low and slow, the humble two-seater makes lazy circles over emerald fields as its pilot smiles down on Earth, senses ignited by a soft breeze and the scent of grass airstrips that waft through the open window.
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cubbingThe S2’s cowling has been redesigned to improve cooling and speed characteristics, and by achieving weight savings through carbon-fiber technology, CubCrafters also is able to provide options such as glass panels, big tires or floats. Additional options include a $1,495 performance package that provides 10% more horsepower through a tuned exhaust system, a $395 single-seat conversion, $1,495 leather seats and $22,000 Bauman 1500 straight floats.

Around The Patch
It’s a crisp, sunny January morning in King City, Calif. The lofty hangar at Sean Tucker’s Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety, CubCrafter’s newest dealer, is always filled with colorful aerobatic planes from Pitts to Extras. But today, the brilliant Sport Cub outshines them all. The plan is for Tutima instructor Ben Freelove and me to demo the new 100 hp Sport Cub, followed by a comparison flight in a 1946 65 hp J-3. Sales rep Chelsea Engberg is sure I’ll be wowed by the difference: “The Sport Cub takes everything you love about the J-3 to the next level.”

We pull the yellow youngling onto the ramp and begin to preflight. “CubCrafters looked at all the mods that bush pilots were making to their Super Cubs and incorporated them into the Sport Cub,” says Ben as he points out precision CNC-machined hardware. Other modifications include a rear seat that resembles a sort of mini hammock; it’s suspended from the steel frame by reinforced straps and can be stowed away to allow more room for baggage.

Unlike the original J-3, the Sport Cub is flown solo from the front seat, and as we taxi to runway 11, I immediately appreciate the great visibility. In most taildraggers, it’s difficult to see over the nose while on the ground, but in the Sport Cub, I don’t even have to make S-turns. It feels a bit like cheating, and Ben grins, “The Sport Cub is the envy of all taildraggers.” Looking around the cabin further confirms that I’m not in grandpa’s Cub: Our panel is equipped with a $10,500 “deluxe VFR” option that includes a Garmin 495 GPS and Garmin 327 GTX transponder. (Customers also can opt for a $19,900 “deluxe flat” option that features a Dynon EFIS.)

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