Unexpected Pleasures: Cub Landings


South of Venice, we’re blessed to have a nice little grass field called Buchan. Nothing fancy, just a couple of thousand feet of cleared Florida scrub maintained by the county. It’s a dying breed, I guess, but it’s perfect for the Cub so I use it a lot.Our new Cub partner, Jack, lives on the corner of the airport and we chatted the other afternoon while my student, Jordon, was working on his solo wheelies. Soloing Jordon marked a couple of firsts for me. I’d never soloed anyone in a Cub and although I’ve flown plenty of turf, I never had a field as convenient as Buchan to myself just for the purpose of refining the fine art of taildragger flying.To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s more fun watching someone potter around the pattern or actually flying it yourself. Standing on a grass field watching a Cub fly a proper pattern-that’s a 300-foot downwind and carving turns from base to final-it’s quite possible to imagine yourself back in the 1930s, when that Cub came out of the factory toward the end of 1938. I wonder if Bill Piper had even the slightest notion it would still be teaching people to fly 72 years on.But it is.As Jack and I were watching Jordan’s roundouts-would he use that taste of power just ahead of the touchdown or go for the power-off plant?-we couldn’t help but remark on how quiet the Cub is. Even on the takeoff roll, it hardly disturbs the conversation and on the downwind, all you hear is a faint and distant putter. Wood props do that.When we got there, I asked Jordan to do the standard three full-stops, then we would head home to Venice. But Jack and I were having so much fun, I must have sent him around 10 times. Of course, when we got back to Venice, we returned to the real world of people screeching at each other over the Unicom frequency the harshness of hard pavement.I’ve never been one for nostalgia for the Golden Age of flight. I like to think of myself as persistently forward looking. Maybe I’m softening a little. If you see me in a pair of jodhpurs and a leather hat, kindly bother to reel me back in.