One of the best-guarded secrets in civil aviation history came to light on Monday when CubCrafters officially unveiled its XCub, a Part 23 airplane designed to get down and dirty. What the XCub is, is super-cool. But how CubCrafters did it might be even cooler.
High-profile failures to get into full serial production these past 10 years—Adam Aircraft with its push-pull twin and twin jet; Eclipse with its very light EA500 jet; ICON with its still in the game, but on the ropes A5 LSA amphibian—have demonstrated that the way to get certification done is to do the work first and talk about it later. Finance the program yourself and take your profit once you start selling airplanes, not before. This is precisely what CubCrafters has done with the XCub. You could buy one on Monday, the day the world first learned of the program. To CubCrafters founder Jim Richmond and his team in Yakima, Washington, we say, bravo. They will let the airplane speak for itself and take orders based on its actual merits, which are many and very real, and not a decade of hype. Again, bravo.
Not everyone gets the import of this. Several aviation pubs have labeled the announcement Monday as a “launch” of the XCub. It was not, and CubCrafters never used that word in talking about what it was doing. It called it a debut. We call it an unveiling. Same thing. We’re not getting a peek at an artist’s rendition, a set of blueprints or a non-flying mockup; we’re seeing an airplane that has earned FAA certification and that you can take home today.
What about the airplane itself? Well, we flew it a month ago and were blown away by it. In a nutshell, it’s fast—145 mph fast!—rugged, with a classic tube-and-rag design, but with spring-steel gear. It comes replete with creature comforts, and it looks amazing, but it can still take off and land in 170 feet, according to some Valdez flying competition veterans who’ve flown it. We took a little more grass than that, but not much more. With big tires, it can gravel bar with the best of them.
Want to see where you can go with one? Check out our video filmed in the wilds of the Cascades in Washington State.
Check out our complete pilot report here.