Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring fun in a vintage Cub

Plane: Cub, 85 hp
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Clear, 58 degrees, wind 300 degrees at 7 knots

This would have been a great spring to get my Seaplane rating. I could be landing something on floats in my yard at this point! Seriously, it's been historically rainy around here for the past month. However, the aviation gods smiled upon me at a great time. My best friend Rob headed down from Michigan to visit for the weekend last night and we have two straight days of nice flying weather. You know what that means... time for fun in the Cub!

We spent most of the day at the USAF Museum. Seems like we always spend some time there when Rob's in town and for good reason - the place is incredible. Today we were able to finally visit their Restoration Hangar, a new experience for both of us. Seeing the Memphis Belle and other planes up close and under restoration was an amazing experience. I'll share my photos here as part of my USAF Museum Series in the coming months.

A fun evening of flying - in 3D!

Rob and I arrived at Stewart around 5:30 and I got the plane pre-flighted and ready to go. Taxiing onto the soft grass (one benefit of the Seattle-like weather) and pushing in the throttle, I pushed forward to quickly raise the tail and we were flying within seconds. You can't argue with the performance of an 85 hp Continental in a Cub on a semi-cool spring evening. We climbed up to 5,500 feet while heading out over Caesar Creek Lake.

After a few steep turns and the requisite clearing turns to check for traffic, it was time for some true old-fashioned fun. I tossed a roll of toilet paper out the window and we chased it down. My accuracy is improving compared to when Gina went up in the Cub in October and November. I sliced through the streaming paper four or five times before we hit 1,500 feet AGL - my hard limit for stopping such activity. Words can't describe how much fun it is and it's a good exercise in throttle, speed, and management! Needless to say, Rob had a complete blast as well. Please note my comments in earlier blog posts about the legality of such activities if you're concerned, by the way.

Streamer cutting as seen through Rob's GoPro

It's hard to top that for the fun factor but we then cruised low along Caesar Creek Lake and the valley for a while. All the recent rain has the water behind the dam at the highest levels I've ever observed and you could see flooding all over the area. The view from 500-1000 AGL was great and the visibility was unreal; the rain sure has washed everything out of the air! I made a low pass at the glider port and then continued south along the valley towards I-71. Then I climbed up and we went around cranking and banking a little more - steep turns, steep spirals, and a short push on the stick here and there for that floating feeling.

Cruising around in the Cub with Rob

Rob took the controls for a few minutes and did a really good job. I could tell he was flying more coordinated than the last time we took the Cub up and I enjoyed having a brief reprieve to let my hand thaw out. It was a nice sunny day on the ground but the J-3's back seat wasn't particularly warm in the air! He flew us around south of the airport before I decided we should head back and land.

My first landing was the kind that every pilot dreams of - we touched down so softly in a perfect three-point attitude that you barely felt anything other than the bumps in the turf. After I briefed him on the procedure to ensure he exited behind the wing strut and headed directly backwards, Rob hopped out of the airplane to take some photos from the ground. I then headed back to the runway for some solo takeoff and landing practice.

Man did that Cub ever leap off the runway with only me and a half tank of gas! I held the brakes for a short field takeoff and was flying in the distance between two sets of cones, roughly 200 feet. I had to delay turning crosswind before I hit the end of the runway and was already at pattern altitude before turning downwind. Good times, my friends.

A solo, short field takeoff in the J-3

I ended up making four trips around the pattern - two normal landings and two simulated engine-out landings. All were at least a 3/5 in my book but the final landing was another 5/5 beauty, touching down softly after a monster slip to lose altitude with the engine at idle. Landing a Cub is just plain fun, and there's not much else to say about that.

Coming in for my final landing, a simulated engine-out

Rob took a bunch of photos, some of which are included in this post. He was also wearing a helmet-cam that captured the great video of our fun in the air. Thanks for all the great multimedia, Rob!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 186.0 hours


  1. Hi! I enjoy following your blog. You're accumulating hours, do you see yourself taking an instrument rating or going on to commercial flying eventually?

  2. Richard - thanks for the comments.

    I do intend on getting both my IR and Commercial ratings. I'd prefer to get IR before Commercial so I'm not subject to the limitations of a non-IR pilot with a Commercial rating. However, as a renter, it's expensive to get an IR and then more expensive to stay current. So it might be a while before I'm able to do so. I would love to get my Glider rating at some point as well.

    As far as career moves, I don't particularly see myself flying for a living. Maybe some day I'll be able to instruct on the side but aviation just isn't a very viable career financially these days...

  3. I share your pain about the weather - our April rainfall broke a record last set in 1929.

    Looks like you had a great time in the Cub, thanks for letting the rest of us live vicariously through you!

  4. It looks like you guys had a blast! The wx is finally turning...maybe we can all attempt to stay current.

    What a great place to fly. Stewart was tons of fun, the people were fantastic, it's what flying should be.

    I agree with Chris..."the rest of us live vicariously through you"

  5. Thanks, guys - I feel an obligation to post as many photos and videos as I can on here so you can continue with the vicariousness! :)

    The video Rob captured from the Cub flight was totally awesome so I'm looking forward to getting that on here in the future. Having the helmet cam added a whole new level to recording the TP streamer fun.

  6. Those are some really great photos! You sure do know your flight language, you sound like a pro.

  7. Why thank you, Miss M. :)

    And thanks to Rob for the awesome photos!