When Isabel Goyer of Plane & Pilot asked me if I could write a “Patey Twins” flight review of a new NX Cub from CubCrafters, I jumped. And by jumped, I mean I was excited but thought about it every day, like a high school student procrastinating on my report.
This time to process really turned my mind more from my thoughts on the plane itself to my thoughts on the polarizing reactions to this new Cub with a nosewheel. I had documented my NX Cub flight feedback on YouTube, and the flood of comments came rolling in like a tsunami, leaving me a little shocked at the devastation some wanted to leave in their personal wake and reviews.
I get it. After all, I belong to that virtual religion of backcountry aviators kneeling weekly at the altar of taildragger flight. Our mountain airstrips are temples of sorts, reserved only for those worthy of entrance, and the Cub is the original and most pure method of taking to the heavens and landing at these sacred grounds. Some might suggest changing the Cub is outright blasphemy. Grant me the chance to state my position on our aviation passion as a whole.
We all want general aviation to survive, and not just survive but to blossom and thrive! I love all of it and want more members in our GA family. I’ll champion anything that gives more people more options in aviation and, yes, that, of course, includes a “Cub” with a wheel on the front. After all, what’s wrong with more options?
When we were 10 years old, Mike—my identical twin—built a hang glider out of blue tarp and duct tape. With all our talents and resources brought to bear, our aircraft would glide about as well as a set of keys; but it excelled in one category, the most important category—it put smiles on our faces and created memories that have withstood the ravages of time.
Would the average pilot want a Patey Build Tarp Glider? Of course not, but I would take serious issue with anyone who would have approached those bright-eyed little boys and done anything to discourage them from building it or getting into aviation by whatever means they had. The same goes for getting others in aviation. If it takes a parachute in a Cirrus, awesome! If it takes a nosewheel on a Cub, fantastic! If it takes Jet A to feel safe, then great. We are so glad you’re here with us, and if it only takes a two-stroke motor in an ultralight because it fits your budget, bravo! Even if it takes a plane that thinks it’s a Jet Ski, I think it’s marvelous.
We welcome you to an amazing club of like-minded aviators; we won’t mock you at the lake, tease you for a training wheel, belittle your pilotage because you have a parachute, nor hate you for being rich or look down on you for only having enough to fly an ultralight. All would-be aviators must feel to their core that they’re welcome here, they’re loved, and we hope they stay a while and bring their friends and family along. Anything other than this will be the death of GA, as certain as the sun sets.
All that said, I am filled with hope. Passionate pilots are sharing their love of GA on YouTube and Instagram, and it’s having a positive influence, despite those who call them egomaniacs, or worse. Companies like CubCrafters, Cirrus, Icon, Pilatus and many more are spending millions trying to bring new options to market. With all the risk, they press on through the constant barrage of online haters. These investments would never happen if they didn’t share in a collective hope for the future and growth in general aviation. Even my family has made the jump in and is investing heavily in this “un-investable” world of aviation with the startup and growth of our own little company, Best Tugs.
My review of the CubCrafters NX Cub is simple. I’m ecstatic! Its mere existence is a living manifestation of bright things to come. More choices are always a good thing, and I pray the NX Cub will survive “Market Survey” and actually make it to market. I want it on the wall next to as many options as we can bring into our boutique. I got to try it on for size, and it was a blast to fly! The new cc393i is a beast of a motor and is immediately noticeable when you open it up for launch. Visibility on taxi, takeoff and landing is unlike any bush plane I’ve flown. Sure, you don’t have the same prop clearance when taxiing as you do with the tail on the ground, but at least now you can see what you need to avoid. It’s like pushing the easy button, especially when it comes to stopping short—you can’t flip it on its nose or ground loop it. Of course, “real pilots” will never do that, but still, somehow, every year, somewhere, even our favorite real pilots do exactly that in their taildraggers.
The sleek airframe is as fast as it looks, 150mph fast, and with its huge 50-gallon fuel tanks, it still leaps into the air, and with a great payload, too. And it does it in less than 300 feet. That figure was a mere 100 feet when I flew just me with only three hours of fuel to go play out of our over 6,000-foot density altitude airport.
Once in the air, you forget it has a nose gear up front, and it flies just like you’d expect a premium Cub to fly—slow, comfortable, quiet and with no cold air creeping in from every direction, as we’ve become accustomed to. It almost begs you to open it up and travel in style to Alaska with a loved one, or even Utah—just sayin’. We have good flying here, too.
Of course, every airplane purchase is a juggling act of compromises, but CubCrafters took a huge part of that compromise out of the equation. If you wanted to try your hand at backcountry adventure flying but are not feeling up to the tailwheel, no problem. Take it with the nose up front. And if, or when, you’re ready, the main gear flips around, moving the pivot point forward and dropping the tail on the ground. Nose gear comes off, tailwheel goes on, and you’re heading out for even the most extreme airstrips.
Every airplane has its compromises. It’s really about picking what’s important to you and then, maybe even more importantly, not trying to force your choice in compromises onto others. We celebrate new options and designs as we see them come forward and encourage other companies to follow suit. As far as the NX Cub, if, or when, it comes to market, I believe it will bring new people into the backcountry and into our aviation family—and isn’t that about all we can hope for?