So today we had a good sqizz at this remarkable little tomboy of a plane, which is now more than three times as old as he is. Now, the Major has flown leviathans of the air all the way down to the very small. But he has not had the pleasure of owning one. One day, should this aging old Knight win the lottery, I shall buy one for the young Knight and have 'the Major' painted by the cockpit hatch.
Wiki has some things to say about the Cub:
The Taylor E-2 Cub first appeared in 1930, built by Taylor Aircraft in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Sponsored by William T. Piper, a Bradford industrialist and investor, the affordable E-2 was meant to encourage greater interest in aviation. Later in 1930, the company went bankrupt, with Piper buying the assets, but keeping founder C. Gilbert Taylor on as president.
This is a plane that a chap could, should he choose, keep and operate from his back yard. Given that the yard is larger than the average suburban block. It can land not quite on a sixpence but certainly on a modest wallet of dollar bills laid end to end. It almost lifts off and lands like a Harrier but a great deal quieter.In 1936, an earlier Cub was altered by employee Walter Jamouneau to become the J-2 while Taylor was on sick leave. (The coincidence led some to believe that the "J" stood for Jamouneau, while aviation historian Peter Bowers concluded that the letter simply followed the E, F, G and H models, with the I omitted because it could be mistaken for the numeral one.). When he saw the redesign, Taylor was so incensed that he fired Jamouneau. Piper, however, had encouraged Jamouneau's changes and hired him back. Piper then bought Taylor's share in the company, paying him US$250 per month for three years.
The outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1939, along with the growing realization that the United States might soon be drawn into World War II, resulted in the formation of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP). The Piper J-3 Cub became the primary trainer aircraft of the CPTP and played an integral role in its success, achieving legendary status. About 75% of all new pilots in the CPTP (from a total of 435,165 graduates) were trained in Cubs. By war's end, 80% of all United States military pilots had received their initial flight training in Piper Cubs.
Of course, having a small plane in your back yard means you can get to work quicker than by car or bus or train. A fellow in Europe came to the same view and built his own. Not a cub, but a fine enough going-to-work-machine.The need for new pilots created an insatiable appetite for the Cub. In 1940, the year before the United States' entry into the war, 3,016 Cubs had been built; wartime demands soon increased that production rate to one Cub being built every 20 minutes.
An icon of the era and of American general aviation in general, the J-3 Cub has long been loved by pilots and nonpilots alike, with thousands still in use today. Piper sold 19,073 J-3s between 1938 and 1947, the majority of them L-4s and other military variants. After the war, thousands of Grasshoppers were civilian-registered under the designation J-3. Hundreds of Cubs were assembled from parts in Canada (by Cub Aircraft as the Cub Prospector), Denmark and Argentina and by a licensee in Oklahoma.
Cubs are not confined to America. There are many in Oz too. In fact Oz is an ideal place for small planes. We have a lot of adventurous blokes and plenty of space to play in.In the late 1940s, the J-3 was replaced by the Piper PA-11 Cub Special (1,500 produced), the first Piper Cub version to have a fully enclosed cowling for its powerplant and then the Piper PA-18 Super Cub, which Piper produced until 1981 when it sold the rights to WTA Inc. In all, Piper produced 2,650 Super Cubs. The Super Cub had a 150 hp (110 kW) engine which increased its top speed to 130 mph (210 km/h); its range was 460 miles (740 km).
Modernized and up-engined versions are produced today by Cub Crafters of Washington and by American Legend Aircraft in Texas, as the Cub continues to be sought after by bush pilots for its short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities, as well as by recreational pilots for its nostalgia appeal. The new aircraft are actually modeled on the PA-11, though the Legend company does sell an open-cowl version with the cylinder heads exposed, like the J-3 Cub. An electrical system is standard from both manufacturers.
The J-3 is distinguished from its successors by having a cowl that exposes its engine's cylinder heads — the exposed cylinders of any J-3's engine were usually fitted with sheet metal "eyebrow" air scoops to direct air over the cylinder's fins for more effective engine cooling in flight. Very few other examples exist of "flat" aircraft engine installations (as opposed to radial engines) in which the cylinder heads are exposed. From the PA-11 on through the present Super Cub models, the cowling surrounds the cylinder heads.
There is a rather questionable view that men are really little boys. That is a calumny from people - usually feminists - who just do not understand men. There is a spirit of adventure and freedom, risk and reach that spring up in a little boy's soul that most often does not go away. It matures: it changes; it reaches further than a small boy can. The grown man is a fine person for providing experience for his inner child.A curiosity of the J-3 is that when it is flown solo, the lone pilot normally occupies the rear seat for proper balance, to balance the fuel tank located at the firewall. Starting with the PA-11, as well as some L-4s, fuel was carried in wing tanks, allowing the pilot to fly solo from the front seat.
And Oz, Tasmania in particular, is one of the best places in the world to have that adventure. Mike Rudd, a chap I know, albeit very slightly as he lives on the Big Island, shows off, shows us, and shows beautiful Tasmania. Why have a runway when there are beaches?
There are times when an old Knight could be persuaded to exchange his wisdom and experience for the chance to be a young chap again. Were I in my thirties, I would have a plane. A cub would do me fine.
Let us drink to my mate, the Major. And to Knights. And planes. And dreams.