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« Video: More Piper Cub Love From Hartford Wisconsin (HXF) And 'Cub Air Flight' | Main | OSH14: Saturday August 2 - Cessna 195 Heading Home (CoolPix) »

I'm Current For The First Time In 18 Years! (Living The Cub Life In Hartford WI) 12 Pix

(click pic to enlarge)  Me in the back seat of a Cub... right where I belong!

 When I offered for sale the rare copy of The Long, Lonely Leap in mid-July to help me survive a week at Oshkosh 2014, I mentioned in the post that my plan was to take some of that money and make sure I finally got the flight review that I've been trying to accomplish the last two years. Seems every time I had some cash set aside for that it wound up having to be spent on something ultimately more important. Fortunately for me, the book sold in just a couple days, and I made good on my promise by scheduling a flight review for the Saturday right before Oshkosh began in one of the Cubs from Cub Air in Hartford Wisconsin. Hartford (HXF) is conveniently located about an hour south of OSH, so my trip to the world's greatest aviation event included the chance to finally be a current pilot after an 18 year hiatus.

 I'll admit that I had a pretty high confidence level going into the flight review after having done so well late last August with an hour of takeoffs and landings in a Pitts S2C with Billy Werth in Indianapolis. Prior to those 9 wheel landings in the Pitts, I had probably only had made 5 landings since 1996, and only one of those in a taildragger... but the training I got from my dad when I was just 13 years old in a 150hp Citabria 7KCAB on a narrow runway in Elgin IL burned the basics of 'taildragger' deep into my memory. It really makes no sense to me that I was actually completely comfortable doing takeoffs and landings in the Pitts (the first time I'd ever been in such a high performance airplane) and especially after such a long time away, but I like to point out that I don't think I'm special, I was just blessed to learn at a very young age in an airplane that demands you know how to use your feet. Thanks again dad!

(click pic to enlarge)  Flying a J-3 Cub with a new 'old' EAA logo shirt... Life is good!

 The upcoming flight review at Hartford was also low on the stress factor because I logged a boatload of hours in a clipped wing Cub back when I was 18 and 19. The view and the feel of life in the back seat of a Cub is something I was pretty familar with, even if it had been 34 years since I'd flown one. The clipped wing we had was powered by a 90hp Continental, and the Cubs at Hartford have either 85 or 90hp. A clipped wing J-3 demands more than the 65hp Cubs were built with to get any kind of decent climb out of it, and the full span airplanes benefit greatly from having the extra horsepower as well. I was curious to see if the full span Cub flew significantly different since I really didn't know what it would be like. The only time I'd ever been in a full span Cub was at Hartford two years ago during the 75th anniversary event on the weekend before OSH12, and I just went for a ride to be able to get some good pix of the field-full-of-Cubs from the air.

Check out these posts for some great pix and info on Cubs at Hartford:

Lots Of Cub Yellow At Hartford Wisconsin For 'Cubs 2 OSH'

75 Piper Cubs At Hartford Wisconsin! CoolPix 2Fer

 All of the pictures in this post are actually from Sunday August 3rd, the last day of OSH14. I stopped back by Hartford on the way home to take fellow CampBacon friend Adam Fast and his pilot friend Melinda for rides in a Cub. More info on the rides right after I detail some of the flight review from Saturday July 26th.

(click pic to enlarge) It's hard to beat a Cub with the door open on a summer day

 I arrived at Hartford just before 9am on Saturday with great weather and the underlying excitement that by the afternoon I was also going to be home again at CampBacon, the official AirPigz campsite in the EAA campgrounds. This was one awesome Saturday in my life! My flight review began when I met up with Steve Krog, who started Cub Air with his wife Sharon back in 2006. Steve and I have very similar thoughts on the value of learning to fly in a Piper Cub... the overall low cost, the skills aquired learning to fly a taildragger from day one, the nostalgic look and aura of the Cub, AND the pure joy found in flying low and slow with the door open... you can't beat this! Steve has been doing a great job of taking these elements and putting them into action with Cub Air, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to tap into all this to get back to being a current pilot.

 After a bit of avgeek chat, we got to it with me starting to pre-flight the airplane. Ever since I was young I take the pre-flight very seriously. I diligently check the stuff that seems very redundant, I touch anything that's critical and some of the stuff gets a good tug too. I also try to strike a really good balance between handling the parts of the airplane firm enough to ensure they are safe yet gentle enough to not cause any harm. I really like these kinds of details as they relate to being a pilot, and I found that it felt like I had pre-flighted a Cub just the day before as I went around the airplane.

 My overall philosophy as a pilot is that the airplane isn't there to be mastered or shown who's boss... instead, it's a friend that needs to be respected, cared for, and we work WITH the airplane to leave the pesky confines of terra firma and experience the magic of flight. If I ever become a flight instructor, I hope to launch that kind of relationship between pilot and airplane in people. My dad also taught me to always be easy on the airplane... don't be hard on the controls, don't use more power than needed on the ground, don't use the brakes just because they are there... basically treat the airplane like your life depends on its good condition, which of course it does!

(click pic to enlarge)  I'd choose the Cub over ANY modern LSA for basic training

 Two of the Cubs at Hartford have no starter, and the airpane for the flight review (N70186, not the one pictured from the ride day) was one of them. After a couple shots of prime and a few blades pulled thru with the mags off, Steve called for 'brakes and contact'. I made extra certain the brakes were on, cracked the throttle a little, and then turned the nostalgic mag swith to both. Here's a quick note on the brakes. These were the original style expander tube brakes that have hydraulic cylinders actuated by horizontal levers that you push with your heels. These days, heel brakes are considered by many people to be old fashioned, barbaric, and possibly dangerous. I couldn't disagree more. Between the Citabria that my dad bought new in 1974 and the Cub we had in the late 70's, all I knew were heel brakes for the first four years of my flying. I never had the first bit of trouble with them... and one thing I really like about them is that since they do take some real effort to get to, you will NEVER accidentally apply a heel brake like you often see happening with toe brakes, In a taildragger, that can be an important issue. 

 Anyway, back to getting this Cub running. Steve was standing behind the prop (the safest place to prop a Cub from) and gave the prop a smooth slow swing... she fired right up and I looked to see if we had oil pressure, and we did. Steve hopped in and we starting talking over the intercom. When I flew the clipped wing Cub back in the day we didn't even own a headset, so using one here was a tad foreign to me in an old taildragger. Of course, it's easy to get used to and it does make communication much easier.

(click pic to enlarge)  The very beautiful Hartford Wisconsin airport (HXF)

 I taxied down to the end of the runway, did an engine run up and checked the carb heat. Controls are free and operating in the proper direction, and the traffic is clear... this airplane is ready to fly! Steve wanted me to go across runway 29 to the nice grass runway that runs parallel to it, so I did. He was ready to go, so I looked down the grass runway in the turn to make sure it was clear ahead as I assumed runway heading and applied the power. This is a good time to point out a unique aspect of flying a Cub. The view from the back seat, especially with an adult up front, might NOT include a look at the runway on takeoff! Certainly with the tail on the ground you can't see the runway over the nose, and sometimes you can't get a very good view around the person in front, or over the nose even with the tail up. This is possibly the worst AND the best element of flying a Cub. To the non Cub pilot, this sounds kinda crazy and very difficult. It might even keep a lot of people from being willing to learn in a Cub. But it demands you learn a unique skill where you look at a wider view in front of you, the view that includes both sides at the same time. This allows you to basically make the view out both sides of the airplane remain the same in their appearance during takeoff roll. It's pretty much how everyone learned to fly back in the days of big biplanes, but by today's drive-o-matic airplane standards it seems unimaginable. However, this skill, coupled with keeping the airplane going in a straight line to begin with is a large part of what makes great pilots.

 Anyway, the next 30 minutes included doing 360's to the left and right at both 30 and 45 degrees of bank, plus power off and power on stalls both straight ahead and in a turn, and a variety of other air work. I found out afterward that when Steve saw that my turns didn't deviate more than 50 from the assigned altitude, he could see I had a pretty good idea of what was doing... yay! I was sure pleased because the altimeter is hard to see where its mounted in this Cub when there's a person up front. I had to lean around quite a bit to catch a view of it.

 Then it was time for some landings. I LOVE landings in a taildragger! The first was a stall or 3-point landing in the grass. Greased it on. Then back in the pattern for a wheel landing in the grass. Oh my, greased it on! Then I set up for a wheel landing on the hard surface. Sorry, I know it sounds like I'm bragging here, but I'm just stating the facts... greased it on. Similar to my Pitts experience, it appears that I'm actually a better pilot 18 years later than I was when I last flew regularly. That doesn't really make sense to me, but maybe talking/writing about airplanes here on AirPigz for almost 6 years has kept me in the groove. Regardless, I am thrilled to be a 'current' pilot once again and to have done a very good job getting there. Huge thanks to Steve Krog and Cub Air for giving me exactly what I needed!

(click pic to enlarge)  Adam Fast's friend Melinda going for a Cub ride with me!

 My flight review with Steve also served as my checkout for renting these sweet yellow airplanes at Cub Air. I was sure hoping I'd get that accomplished too as my goal has been to be able to make the 4-1/2 hour trip up to HXF once every couple of months to rent a Cub for a dose of pure flying satisfaction, and to keep current. The Cubs rent for $95/hour wet which makes them pretty affordable to me. Now that I'm doing much better financially, I should be able to work an hour or two in every few months. To kick off that concept, I stopped by HXF on the way heading back home from OSH on Sunday August 3rd. Even better, CampBacon friend Adam Fast and his pilot friend Melinda left Oshkosh with me and we headed to Hartford so I could take them for rides in a Cub! As seen in the pic above, Melinda was the first to go along. We had a great time just putting around the beauitful Wisconsin greenery. As the pic below shows it was a truly beautiful day.

(click pic to enlarge)  Wisconsin in the summer from a Cub is just awesome!

 Melinda did some of the flying as we just took in the beauty that is Wisconsin in the summer, and the fun that is flying in a Cub with the door open. Open door flying is the best! It's another one of the unique aspects of a Cub that make it stand out from the other aircraft of the era. Btw, this particular Cub (N42522) is special because it started down the production line in 1945 as a military L-4 but the war in Europe ended and the contract was cancelled. This airplane was finished as a civilian J-3, which is kinda cool. It sure is a pretty airplane 69 years later, and it flew great!

(click pic to enlarge)  Melinda returns as my first passenger with a big smile!

 i was happy to see that Melinda throughly enjoyed her Wisconsin Cub experience... but then how could you not enjoy it with such a beautiful day with a perfect air temperature for flying with the door open! Now it was Adam's turn to hop in and go for a ride. Well maybe 'hop in' isn't exactly the way to describe it. The front seat in the Cub doesn't have the greatest amount of leg room and it's also not the easiest to get into to. Adam is quite a bit taller than I am, and well, a little bigger all around too. We used a bit of a shoe-horn action but we got him in there! He looked pretty comfortable once there, and it was obvious he was really enjoying his first ever Cub experience.

(click pic to enlarge)  Adam fast and Martt Clupper flying in a Cub in Wisconsin!

 As is the custom in the summer when flying a Cub, we took off with the door completely open. Once we were at our cruising altitude of about 600 feet above the ground, I closed the lower part of the door just to show Adam that it was easy to do. We left it up for a bit as a great elbow rest and that's when these pix were taken. It's actually pretty versatile to be able to have it all open, just the upper window, or to close it all up for high speed cruise (hehe) and to keep the breeze out. As it was we were just putting around at 70 mph and enjoying the view. The two of us in there made for quite a load actually, but the airplane flew great.

(click pic to enlarge)  Adam gets some time at the controls... he's a Cub pilot!

 Of course I let Adam give this pretty little airplane a go with the stick and throttle... it's so easy to fly even a Cherokee driver can do it! Just kidding, Adam has quite a bit of Cherokee time and I'm always giving him spam-can grief for it. Nothing wrong with a Cherokee tho, I just like Cubs better. However, Adam is also in a club that has an RV-8 and is not far from being fully checked out in that sweet beast, so some Cub time was just a slow-motion version of that experience : )

(click pic to enlarge)  The simple beauty of a Cub is timeless and nearly perfect

 Adam seemed to enjoy his ride just as much as Melinda did, and I was so pleased to get to fly together with a great firend for the first time. It's even better that we got to do it in wonderful airplane nearly 70 years old! I'll add that all my landings were pretty awesome that day, tho I did bounce once of the wheel landing with Adam. Actually it was about a 6" skip rather than a bounce... all things considered, I couldn't be any happier with my performance back in the saddle again. #LoveToFly  

(click pic to enlarge) Zoomed way in shows nice high tail attitude for a wheel landing

 My entire Cub Air and Hartford Airport experience was fantastic. HXF is a diverse mix of modern general aviation, vibrant sport aviation and homebuilt aircraft activity, passionate vintage flyers (including these three Cubs) and even a sailplane operation. It's the kind of airport that effectively pushes general aviation forward rather than being a stumbling block to it like so many modern airports have become. In my opinion, there needs to be more airports like Hartford in America! And more open door flying : )

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Reader Comments (6)

Nice work Martt you deserve it . Looks like a great place to go flying and Adam and Melinda looks like they are having far too much fun

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlen

Hi Martt, Mike here. Nice article about Cub flying. I learned in Cubs at Wally's Evergreen Airfield in Vancouver WA, have more tailwheel hours than nosewheel hours.
-you get more GPH's in Cubs... grins per hour
-you know it's a good wheel landing when you feel the MLG tires spin up on the grass before the weight of the airplane settles on the landing gear.
g'nite from ORD

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike Meyer

Glen- if you're at CampBacon at OSH15 then we'll see if we can get down to HXF and I'll take you for a ride if you want!

Michael- I'm glad to know that you've experienced wheel landings so gently done that you can feel the tires spin up before you're really on the ground! Nothing made me happier back in the day! When does a trike landing ever return so much joy?

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

BTW, that is "Sharon's Cub". Not just anyone gets to fly it. I have about 7 hours in that same Cub, including taking a few dear friends for their first rides in Cubs. So fitting that you were able to take Adam and Melinda. The Cub experience should be shared with friends whenever possible.

August 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Overstreet

Comparison of Flight Characteristics of Clipped Wing Cub and the Full Span Version?

So how does the clipped wing Cub compare to the full span version? I have heard it said that many owners who clipped the wings regretted the decision. Could you comment, please, on the flight characteristics of the two versions?

November 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAerotony

Aerotony - the only way I cam imagine someone regretting clipping the wings on a Cub is if they didn't increase the horsepower. A 65hp clipped Cub would almost certainly be underpowered. The one I got a lot of hours in 35 years ago had a 90hp Continental and a metal prop (I assume pitched for good climb) - it climbed really well even when heavily loaded.

Otherwise, you gain a much improved roll rate with the short wings, and the noticeably higher wing loading makes the airplane much better in rough air or crosswind landings. The sink rate power off is dramatically increased, but that makes it really easy to put the airplane right where you want it on approach with the throttle.

And for me, I love the way the airplane looks with the much shorter wings... with the old standard Cub wheels and tires it looks like a cute puppy dog with the short wings!

November 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMartt (admin)

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