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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cubbingAlthough the Cub may be best at short-field ops and idyllic local flights, it’s a fairly decent cross-country platform. Our cruise speed is 105 mph and fuel burn is only 4 gph. I’m comfortable up front, and Ben is good in the sling seat: “All airplanes should have hammocks for seats!” My only minor complaints are that the cockpit volume is such to require ANR headsets, and the position of the push-to-talk button on the front of the stick conflicts with where I want to rest my fingers. We wind our way above rolling hills and I think of the epic journey documented by author Rinker Buck in Flight of Passage, recounting an East-to-West Coast flight that he and his brother flew in a Cub when they were teenagers back in 1966. What would that adventure be like for them today, in a Sport Cub?

There’s another Cub in the pattern when we arrive at Frazier, and during our downwind leg, we watch the older classic do a touch-and-go. The juxtaposition of old and new enjoying a timeless activity is a perfect precursor for the rest of our day.

Old Vs. New?
Oddly, the final stage of our Sport Cub demo doesn’t actually take place in the Sport Cub. Ben and I trace back time as we step into N98083, a 65 hp J-3, to see just what a difference 63 years has made. And it has! Without an electrical system, we must hand-prop to start the engine and communicate by handheld radio. Taxiing is tricky due to elusive heel brakes and limited visibility from the backseat. I notice a draft and I squirm in my uncomfortable seat—it’s clear that in just a short time, I’ve been spoiled by CubCrafters.

When we line up for takeoff, I’m already convinced that this will pale in comparison to the day’s earlier flights. But as I apply full throttle with some right rudder, raise the tail up and ease back on the stick, we’re skyward and I’m instantly elated, once again. The fact is, it’s impossible to dislike any Cub. Even without modern design and fancy technology, a Cub is still a Cub: the ultimate icon of general aviation. Each pattern becomes more fun than the previous as I familiarize myself with the idiosyncrasies of the airplane, and I’m disappointed when it’s time to call it a day.

Was I wowed by the improvements of the modern plane over the classic? Definitely. Do I think any less of the beauty and charm of the original J-3? Not a chance. “I told you so,” smiles the Cub.

Tutima Academy Of Aviation Safety
Sean D. Tucker is CubCrafters’ newest dealer
For more information or to test-fly a Sport Cub at CubCrafters’ newest dealer, contact Chelsea Engberg at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (916) 517-2020. Visit
Additional Resources
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