click map AirPigz About mail Robert Clupper

click map 787 Caption Contest CoolPix Homebuilt Military Must See Oshkosh Racing RC Space Video Podcast

click map Perfect Paper Airplane Facebook twitter

Search AirPigz...
Popular Previous Posts




Search AirPigz 1000+ posts


« KC-135 Ride! 434th ARW (Grissom Air Reserve Base) + Thirsty B-52 | Main | Poll: Should The AirPigz 'Caption Contest' Make A Comeback? »

Add 'Cub Training Centers' To Save GA In America (CoolPix & Video)

(click pic for hi-res)         A perfect Piper Cub at Oshkosh 2010

 I've been spoutin' off about the near-perfection status of the good ole original Piper J-3 Cub for a long time now, but my post the other day about Sonex Aircraft's Onex and how it might be able to fix the desperate condition of General Aviation gave me a chance to suggest something fairly radical. What if we took a giant step backward and made a hardcore effort to put 200 or more original Cubs to work all across America teaching people how to fly? Why would we wanna do this? Well, a fully certified Cub in good condition can be bought for under $40,000, which means you can get about THREE of these antique airplanes for the cost of one of those supposed-to-be-really-affordable LSA's. And while I admit that I haven't flown any of the new LSA aircraft, I do have a lot of time flying a clip-wing Cub around with the window down and the doors open... I know there's no way any of the modern LSA's can be more 'fun' than a Cub.

 In my estimation, the 'fun' factor is essential in getting people into the amazing world of aviation. But we desperately need to find ways to make it more affordable too. The much lower initial investment of the Cub helps right away, and then the daily operating costs should be able to compete directly with an LSA, or maybe even beat it. Possibly most important is the idea that we NEED to make this kind of a solution happen. To me, this means that we need people passionate about flying that will dive in and make this work without the idea that it's all about money. I'm not suggesting they shouldn't make, sure they should! But if making money is priority number 1, then most likely the cost structure will be built in a way that makes it all cost too much. 

 I'm also thinking that we probably need to strategically place these Cub Training Centers at just the right spots around the country to be sure that they have enough activity going on to make the operations profitable. Ultimately, I think we need some benevolent, trusted group of people or organization to oversee this plan. With a bit of centralization, I would think the operations could be streamlined and standardized to make it all work very successfully.

 About now is when some of you are shaking your head at all this crazy dreaming. Well, it is a bit crazy, but it's way past time we get some sort of active 'pilot producing' plan into action. With the buying power of the average American shrinking a lot over the last 10 years and the cost of avgas over $4 a gallon, what are we gonna do? We can give up and watch it all dwindle down to nothing, but you and I both know that's not really an option here. 

 So, the real point to this post is just to soak in a little Piper Cub imagery. The CoolPix pic above should stir up a little passion in you, and the video clip from One Six Right below should really get your grass-roots blood pumping. You can be sure I'll be back on this subject soon with more of my ideas on how to make Cub Training Centers a reality. Til then, feel free to leave a comment... even if you think I'm crazy : )



EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (8) : )

Three J3s on the line as well as a Cherokee which provide sport pilot and private pilot instruction as well as tailwheel endorsements.

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Based solely on the rental rate of local Champs, I'm betting the insurance on the TD eats you alive in a training environment. They rent for 100 to 115/hr locally. More than a newish LSA. I've never flown a Cub; couldn't get into the thing. But the Champ is a real hoot. I know the Cub is supposed to be even better.

Maybe cubair could comment?

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrsteele

Amy- Thanx for the link. I'm saving loads more info on their awesome work for the continuing discussion.

rsteele- Insurance for taildraggers is a great, and really big point to consider, but actually, I don't expect it to be a problem for the Cub Training Center idea. The reason insurance is high now is because few people are learning to fly taildraggers, and even fewer are learning from day one in them. If they were, something wonderful would happen: they'd know how to stay out of trouble with them! Steve Krog from CubAir has said that it takes longer to teach a trike pilot to fly a Cub than someone with no time at all. I'm guessing insurance rates today are based on the fact that many of the people flying these old time taildraggers in a rental setting are marginally capable, and the higher rates compensate for that.

Even with students trained from day one in a taildragger, there's still a bit of an increased chance of a little damage from time to time, but here's where the much lower initial cost, and the 'sorta centralized' nature of the Cub Training Centers idea comes in. If all of these training centers were slightly connected thru a central hub, dealing with regular ongoing maintenance as well as the occasional repair should be able to be done more cost effectively.

Lastly, as my podcast interview with Budd Davisson pointed out, one of our greatest areas for improvement is in the process used by instructors to teach people to fly. We need to change that to put far greater emphasis on really learning to fly an airplane rather than to drive one. The more we focus on great instructional procedures, the more we'll produce better pilots, and insurance costs will be driven down.

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

Yeah, but...what's the difference now between taking care of a Cub and taking care of a minimalist 150 ? Not much and the insurance is a lot cheaper.

Still doesn't solve the basic problem of supply and demand. The supply of airworthy GA training planes is drying up and the number of people able or interested to learn to fly is winding down.

AND.. you have to (or you damn better) hangar the Cubs. The 150s are outside dogs.

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave D

Dave D- Here's the real difference between a Cub and a Cessna 150: "Passion and Fun". And my simple assessment of what's lacking in general Aviation is exactly that. I've spent most of my life being around airplanes that are exceedingly fun and inspire passion. If we don't find a way to bring those elements back, and do so affordably, then I think we're doomed. I see Cub Training Centers as being one of the few ways to make that happen.

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

I also fly Cubs at CubAir. Steve, Kandace, and Amy are great instructors. My first solo was in a 150, a long time ago, so I understand what you say, Dan. A 150 will get you into the air, pretty inexpensively, but flying a Cub is truely a beautiful thing. I go to the airport just to look at them. Even when I am not planning to fly. Then, sometimes I do fly.

For me, it's kind of like driving a stick shift car. There is a little skill in doing it right. CubAir teaches that skill. It's not really that hard, but it is WAY more cool! Flying a taildragger is similar. It isn't that hard, but it is a different skill. And it is WAY more cool. I have IFR and Complex, but nothing makes me happier than to hop into a Cub with a loved one, or a friend, and show them what "Low and Slow" is really all about....with the door open.

Tailwinds always, and blessings on you in whatever you fly!


August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Overstreet

There is a difference between flying a classic, and flying something that is merely "old". Trust me. If not, then come to KHXF and try it out for yourself. If you don't agree, I'll buy the Stella Artois beers for you to cry in (a favorite at CubAir!)


All the best, always!

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Overstreet

I have taken the liberty of posting this idea on my site (pointing back to here of course). The gist of what I have is that I agree that there needs to be some plan to build general aviation back up. When I was growing up, it was cool to hang out at an airport just to watch take offs and landings. These days, not so much. My approach has been to push R/C flying hoping that would translate into a desire to learn real flying.

To me, the start is building an interest in flying at a young age with plastic models (parents, do your kids a favor and build some with them). As the children get older, say early teens, move on to R/C flying. This has become increasingly affordable as technology improves. From there the natural progression would be to learn to fly real airplanes - and the Cub would be the perfect bird for this.

I applaud your efforts here, thanks.

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRTF Skymaster

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>