Posted by andyreohorn on August 4, 2008 at 11:56 AM
Woke up early this morning, feeling the need for
something different to do. Every year on this particular day I try and
add a new type to my list. I had forgotten how close this day was and
my usual source of unusual aircraft was flooded in bookings and work so
I figured I would just go up in the Bulldog if the weather was playing
A phone call leading on from a cancellation offered up a last
minute opportunity. "Wanna go flying, Andy?" said Ian. "Do I need to
eat, breathe or sleep? On my way!"
And so it was I walked out to the bright yellow Cub. After 4 and a
half years I still hadn't flown one despite trying very hard to do so.
It wasn't any old Cub, it was a Super Cub, 150hp of it, good job too the way the middle aged spread is looking
Getting into the cockpit is an art form in itself. Hysterical
laughter almost ensued after my first attempt!! But once you are in it
is bright, airy and comfortable. The worrying thing was, pilots either
love or hate the Cub. The editor of a certain magazine close to our
hearts has taken an awful lot of stick over the last year or two for
not loving them. This should at least be interesting.
Heel brakes and a 16 knot wind from the side made taxying
interesting too, but we were eventually under way down taxiway K, wind
behind, me admiring how the view over the nose was far better than I
had expected. no weaving required, at least from this pilot, maybe a
shorter one may have to a little. Simple power checks complete we lined
Advancing the throttle halfway (yep, not all the way by any means)
I looked at the far end of the runway and pushed the stick forward;
feeling her ready to fly almost immediately I eased back and lo and
behold we were airborne. Two large guys and a tank of fuel with what
can't have been much more than 150m ground roll. OK, we had the wind in
our favour, but this was fun!
Sitting, as the P1 does, in the front and over the wheels, it is not
all that easy to detect swing. Eyes have to be out front and there is
no time to check airspeed, you just feel your way into the sky. A small
bounce, followed by a kiss of the grass and then I feel the little
yellow machine skyward. A few moments of full power at maximum rate of
climb give me an idea of what is available if required. To save the
engine we settle for 70 and 2400rpm which still gives a respectable 600
- 700' a minute climb rate.
The cub that took off behind us was spied over my right shoulder
so, now at the dizzy height of 1500' the right wing dipped groundward,
then hard left to aim alongside the other stablemate. Underestimating
the slowdown when the throttle is pulled back, I have to spend a few
moments catching up before we fly echelon starboard for a while,
enjoying the sunny morning and the serene view of the Downs below.
Breaking off we climbed again to 1500' to get the feel for the
stall. Clean stall, a small wing drop, recovered by a small nudge
forward of the stick, no power required and 50' height loss. With
intermediate flap we fly along at 45 before cutting the power for
another stall. Another slow flight practice with the full flaps set (50
degrees!!) before stalling it again with a wing drop and easy recovery.
Climbing away, the engine stops (strange that isn't it?!) and I totally mess up the PFL I had forgotten how a high wing floats compared to the lead weight of the Bulldog!
The next one was far better, a full sideslip getting us in and under far better control.
Climbing back up to 1100' we set course for home and join the
circuit for some touch and go's. Unfortunately the circuit was busy
with bomber command, so base and the first 2 miles of final was level
at 1000'. Then a sideslip, easily controlled, the instruction was no
flap unless instructed and I was happy with that. The Cub was certainly
easily adjustable in the slip for rate of descent and the adjustment
for wind gradient.
The only tailwheels I have flown have had long noses, or been flown
from the rear and much less view over the nose than this, with the
exception of the Taylorcraft and I made the same mistake as I did with
the Taylorcraft, ending up having to drag it in. The landing attitude I
had noted when we lined up was going to be flatter than I was used to
also, but I obviously hadn't paid it enough attention as we landed
tailwheel first with the associated small bounce as the mains touched
I let it slow to a stop before adding power and again I was taken aback at just how quickly this leaves the ground!
A couple more circuits with the landings improving to reasonably OK
and it was time to stop the fun and get ourselves back to terra firma.
The first person I told was our very own African Eagle. He was delighted that I had finally joined the club. But will my verdict please him I wonder
There is a huge amount of praise heaped onto the Cub. OK, so this
was the Super Cub and doubtless the baby brother flies a little
differently, but it is basically the same I would imagine.
Sweet handling or like stirring porridge?
In My Opinion!!! Depends what
you compare it to. Compare it to the Bulldog and it can't even compete,
except on low speed handling. The ailerons are not quick, but they are
not as slow as I had been led to believe they would be. If you include
low speed behaviour then the Cub does start to gain feathers in it's
cap. It is also reasonably sensitive in pitch. I would certainly not
hesitate to do wingovers in it. I would not even bother with a PA28 for
example. So it does give plenty of feedback.
I would be happy touring in it, so long as there was no rush. It
is certainly more comfortable than your average 152, though the tandem
seating does cut down on socialising.
The view out of the front in straight and level flight is simply
fantastic, so much so, that I kept climbing as I was expecting the nose
attitude to be somewhat higher against the horizon.
It talks to you. You immediately know when you haven't pulled the
stick back far enough in a steep turn and it can be flown purely on the
view outside with no need for a quick instrument check to back up what
the seat of your pants is telling you.
Would I fly one again? Yes, most certainly.
My feeling is that it does have a huge rosy glow around it in a lot
of peoples eyes. Cub officianado's swear it is the best handling
sweetest aeroplane there is, but I am not sure the romanticism of that
However, it does handle well at slow bimbling speeds, the view out
is still good at slow speed, it takes off and lands in a very short
distance and is a great FUN aeroplane. I would certainly have one in my
dream hangar, but maybe not for the reasons that some would. It is an
aeroplane to my mind, that you would jump in for its sheer simplicity
of operation, its good manners and its short field grin factor.
Of course, with a few more hours in one my mind could be altered.....
The way things work are strange. I got a phone call a few hours
later to tell me that the guy I have been pestering for months for a
Cub flight, who was too busy to fit me in, had to cancel a flight in a
Stampe due to the rather sporting wind and would I like to go flying?
No, I didn't got to go out, not enough time, so I had to say no!!