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Flight Journal Podcast - Season 1 Episode 3 - Piper Cub

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Quick Overview

Join us as we take to the air with Flight Journal’s editor-in-chief Budd Davisson.


Piper Cub


Budd's report starts with, “To fly the airplane, you first have to get in it, which in a Cub, isn't as easy as it sounds. You have to master the entry-dance. This means, right foot in the step, lean forward over the front seat, left foot past the stick, bring right foot in, lower yourself backwards.


Few Classics have such a tail down stance, but the feeling of blindness is largely one of perception. Because the Cub is so narrow, only a small wedge is taken out of your visual field--directly in front of you.


Crank it up
Contact! Brakes! Mags hot! Budd comments that a good engine will catch on the first blade. The first thing you'll notice in maneuvering on the ramp is how hard the stupid heel brakes are to get at because they're snuggled under the seat. That's good. That way you won't be tempted to use them on landing where they aren't needed. Budd warns that S-turns are absolutely necessary to see ahead, but they also give you rudder practice. For some reason, maybe it's the light tail, the Cub is quicker to respond to the rudder than most light taildraggers. On takeoff and landing it makes it a little easier than some to over-control. To clear the pattern a full 360-degree turn before taxiing onto the runway is a must. You sit so far back in the airplane vision is sharply limited by the narrow tunnel of the fuselage and the wings that a full clearing turn is mandatory.


Takeoff
Lined up, suck the stick back and move the throttle smoothly forward. As soon as the power is full on, ease the stick smoothly forward and bring the tail up. You still won't quite be able to see over the nose but the visibility improves drastically. Budd says, there is so much airplane between you and the outside world, there is no doubt when the nose tries to move. The rudder becomes effective as soon as the power is on and you'll notice the tail moves each time your foot does. The airplane is very stable directionally. Even on a calm day, the Cub will fly off the ground long before you can get in serious trouble. If there is just a few knots of wind on the nose, it'll leave the ground almost as soon as the tail is up. If you are Solo, it leaps off the ground.


Budd reports that the Cub telegraphs everything it does, especially when it is getting too slow to climb. Every Cub likes a slightly different climb speed, usually because the airspeeds are so far off, He comments to just feel it out. Elevator pressures and rates are matched to the ailerons and you won't even notice the rudder because it mixes in so naturally. And you will need rudder. The airplane has noticeably adverse yaw and the pilot who doesn't coordinate will polish the bottom of his jeans. When coming in to land, power back opposite the end of the runway and lean way forward to get the carburetor heat on. Crank in the elevator trim and the airplane will hold an approach speed of 60 mph by itself.


Budd concludes by saying how nice the Cub lands-- it happens at a near walk. Actual touchdown is around 35 mph, so even if you’re a bit sloppy, everything happens so slowly you have all day to set it straight. His best advice for landings is to make sure it is straight and not drifting, then leave it alone after touchdown. There's a reason for the old saying "...lands easy as a Cub..."

Join us as we take to the air with Flight Journal’s editor-in-chief Budd Davisson.


Piper Cub


Budd's report starts with, “To fly the airplane, you first have to get in it, which in a Cub, isn't as easy as it sounds. You have to master the entry-dance. This means, right foot in the step, lean forward over the front seat, left foot past the stick, bring right foot in, lower yourself backwards.


Few Classics have such a tail down stance, but the feeling of blindness is largely one of perception. Because the Cub is so narrow, only a small wedge is taken out of your visual field--directly in front of you.


Crank it up
Contact! Brakes! Mags hot! Budd comments that a good engine will catch on the first blade. The first thing you'll notice in maneuvering on the ramp is how hard the stupid heel brakes are to get at because they're snuggled under the seat. That's good. That way you won't be tempted to use them on landing where they aren't needed. Budd warns that S-turns are absolutely necessary to see ahead, but they also give you rudder practice. For some reason, maybe it's the light tail, the Cub is quicker to respond to the rudder than most light taildraggers. On takeoff and landing it makes it a little easier than some to over-control. To clear the pattern a full 360-degree turn before taxiing onto the runway is a must. You sit so far back in the airplane vision is sharply limited by the narrow tunnel of the fuselage and the wings that a full clearing turn is mandatory.


Takeoff
Lined up, suck the stick back and move the throttle smoothly forward. As soon as the power is full on, ease the stick smoothly forward and bring the tail up. You still won't quite be able to see over the nose but the visibility improves drastically. Budd says, there is so much airplane between you and the outside world, there is no doubt when the nose tries to move. The rudder becomes effective as soon as the power is on and you'll notice the tail moves each time your foot does. The airplane is very stable directionally. Even on a calm day, the Cub will fly off the ground long before you can get in serious trouble. If there is just a few knots of wind on the nose, it'll leave the ground almost as soon as the tail is up. If you are Solo, it leaps off the ground.


Budd reports that the Cub telegraphs everything it does, especially when it is getting too slow to climb. Every Cub likes a slightly different climb speed, usually because the airspeeds are so far off, He comments to just feel it out. Elevator pressures and rates are matched to the ailerons and you won't even notice the rudder because it mixes in so naturally. And you will need rudder. The airplane has noticeably adverse yaw and the pilot who doesn't coordinate will polish the bottom of his jeans. When coming in to land, power back opposite the end of the runway and lean way forward to get the carburetor heat on. Crank in the elevator trim and the airplane will hold an approach speed of 60 mph by itself.


Budd concludes by saying how nice the Cub lands-- it happens at a near walk. Actual touchdown is around 35 mph, so even if you’re a bit sloppy, everything happens so slowly you have all day to set it straight. His best advice for landings is to make sure it is straight and not drifting, then leave it alone after touchdown. There's a reason for the old saying "...lands easy as a Cub..."

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