Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, November 30, -0001

iCub Love

Classic, frisky, friendly, this Cub clone is so 21st Century

Patterns On The Grass
Move the snug, smooth Rotax 912 ULS throttle forward, and raise the tail, and the broad world rises into view over the cowl. Tailwheel airplanes are fun to fly—once you get basic rudder flying down: This isn’t flatfoot flying, brothers and sisters!

My first few launches show me how responsive iCub’s rudder is. Overcontrol, especially on the hard deck with balloon tires, and you’ll yaw-wobble all over the place. Ease up on the pedal action to enjoy quick and smooth response. Everything calms down, of course, on grass, which is what those cartoon-sized wheels are for anyway.

On launch, fly the tail up, roll on the mains and you’re up and away before you know it. Do a short-field, tail-low launch, and you pop off in under 300 feet (book is 280 feet). Once up, the view is classic Cub-fabulous, thanks to the side windows and one-piece windscreen that runs from engine to aft turtledeck. Crank a high-bank turn and you’ve got a great panorama view through the top.

$37.83 Per Landing
Bush tires are pricey. Bill likes to say every paved-runway landing costs $20 in scrubbed-off rubber. My first misaligned attempts surely cost more, judging by the expensive-sounding “Scriiitch!” and the airplane’s sudden bolt for the sidelines. Once we switch to grass, my acumen magically improves. Those “boingy” tires really smooth out rough ground. We shoot a bunch of landings into shortish sections of infield grass and have a ball.

The Bush iCub has a beefier airframe and landing gear than its nonbush siblings. All four Zlin models benefit from Rotax’s lighter weight. “You don’t need longer coupling with an engine mass that’s 100 pounds lighter,” says Bill. “You’re less likely to ground-loop and can recover easier.”

Sportair’s customer service philosophy includes transition training for all customers. “Even if you buy a used airplane from us, that training is free.”

Sportair linked up with Loni Habersetzer, a noted Alaskan Cub driver, (, to help develop the Bush iCub and create an advanced bush-flying program that will take taildragger skills further. “You’ll land on the runway, grass, then the same spot every time, then do that with the same precision whether downwind, crosswind, on sand, at the edge of a lake, on rocks, at high altitude, on...” Hey, you had me at “same spot.”

Labels: LSAs

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