Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Simplify, Simplify

Administering a dose of J-3 Cub may be the cure for too much civilization

No news can sometimes be better than good news. In fact, no news is probably good for your health, because lots of news certainly isn’t. That’s an easy conclusion to come to because most of us listen to, and read, so much news that we wind up feeling hard-pressed, oppressed and just a little depressed. Nearly every facet of life has become too complicated, and all most of us really want is to live life like a pilot flies a Piper Cub. Simplify, simplify.
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And therein is another prejudice from modern times. We think it’s too slow, not because it’s actually slow, but because we’re used to running too fast. It’s that “relative” thing at work. And that’s a sure indication of our level of impatience with life in general. A good percentage of us fly because we like to fly. So, of what value is being fast? All being fast does is shorten our flights and deprive us of time spent in the air.

It’s fully understandable that there are many people who fly only because it’s a grand form of transportation. (What a concept, by the way. I would have never thought of that.) And there are others who view it as a way to make a living without having to actually work, although most who look at it that way eventually see it become work. It’s a fact, however, that there are many in the community who couldn’t not be pilots, mechanics, etc. They have no choice. They have The Passion and absolutely have to be a part of flight, in whatever way they can. They like being close to the very concept of flight, and that’s why people should be made to fly a Cub: It will put them back in touch with the basic concept that originally brought them into aviation.

Even within aviation, it’s easy to let the complexities of life put pressure on our passion and force us off the path we once knew was right. A flight in a Cub, however, puts all that back in perspective. In a Cub, it’s just you, a minimalist airplane and flight. We’ll never get our lives that simple, but with a Cub around, we at least know where to go to start the process.

Budd Davisson is an accomplished aviation writer and photographer, CFII & CFIA, aircraft owner and builder. He has authored two books and lectured at the Smithsonian and NASA’s Langley Research Center. Check out his website at


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