Friday, August 3, 2012

Jon's first Cub experience

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Overcast, 82 degrees, wind 160 degrees at 8 knots

I first took Jon, my boss' son, flying last fall in the 172. Then a couple months ago we grabbed a 150 for a short hop down to Sporty's so he could see how fun it is to actually go somewhere in an airplane. But until tonight he hadn't experienced one of aviation's true joys - flying in a Piper Cub!

We had no real plan, which is possibly the best way to spend time in a J-3. Before we took off I asked if there was anything he'd like to see but there were no special requests. There was a neat little open house going on at Wright Brothers tonight so I figured we could head over there to say hello and then figure out what to do.

If you recall, we can't land the taildraggers anywhere other than Stewart - a rule they have to enforce due to some unfortunate mishaps in the past. That means we were only able to enter the pattern and fly our final approach before going missed and climbing away. Not that it's a problem or any less fun to do so! I had my handheld radio to keep tabs on the traffic; we turned out to be the only plane in the pattern. As I added power and went around, we were able to wave the wings to say hello to the folks setting up outside.

The winds were pretty strong out of the south tonight. You didn't notice it so much on the ground but they were quite noticeable even 1,000 feet up. The difference was more than you usually see in such a small difference in altitude. Point being our groundspeed wasn't anything to write home about (even for a Cub!) as we made our way towards the lake.

Cubs and headwinds can be fun - that yellow's about 22 MPH groundspeed!

While climbing in preparation for a little streamer cutting (usual disclaimer here) I realized just how slowly we were actually moving relative to the farms below. I took the opportunity to show Jon how you can fly a J-3 backwards on a windy day. Ok, so we couldn't actually reverse direction... but I pointed the nose into the wind, maintained about 40 MPH indicated, and - as you can see in the photo above - managed to slow us down to about 20 MPH across the ground.

He enjoyed the fun that is slicing through a little toilet paper (seriously, try it sometime - if Martha Lunken loves it, you know it's a good thing!) and then we headed back towards the airport. I handed over the controls for a little while and he did a pretty good job. Dutch Rolls might take him a few more tries to master, but it takes most pilots a while to get the hang of the rudder/aileron dance required to do so. I sure wasn't perfect the first time I did them.

We steep spiraled down to pattern altitude - perhaps my favorite way to descend quickly - and I pointed the nose at the airport. On short final I noticed the winds were shifting; there was still a crosswind out of the south but now it was creating a slight tailwind component. No reason to land like that. We were the only plane in the pattern so it was easy to climb out, cross midfield, and then enter a left downwind to land in the other direction. I shut the plane down, we hopped out, and Jon can now say he's experienced Cub Yellow. Another successful day in this pilot's book.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.3 hours
Total Time: 225.8 hours

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