Friday, June 29, 2012

Return of the Yellow Cub

With the spring rains tapering off and the arrival of another gorgeous Minnesota summer, I've been flying a lot. I should rephrase that: I've been flying a lot for fun. It should go without saying that I've been flying a lot for work - and work it has been, with all the thunderstorms to dodge. No, on my days off I've had the Cessna 170 up quite a bit. I've taken Dawn on romantic sunset rides, brought friends on tours of Lake Minnetonka and the Twin Cities, gone up solo to practice landings, and did a bit of formation flying with my friend Logan and his club 1946 Piper J3 Cub to various grass strips around the area. I've even taken up First Officers up while playing hookey during lengthy MSP "productivity breaks" (and yes, I've received a few strange looks preflighting the Cessna in full NewCo uniform). All the practice has helped hone my taildragger wrangling skills - I'm even making decent wheel landings on pavement with the 170s notoriously bouncy steel spring landing gear.

I really enjoy flying the 170, but that said, it's never given me the sensation of pure, unadulterated stick-and-rudder fun that comes from flying the Cub. Fortunately, I've been able to fly the Cub with Logan from time to time (and he with me in the 170). That came to an end last month when Logan announced that he was moving back to his hometown of Chicago and selling his 1/12th share of the Cub. He offered it to me first. It was a very good deal, the club is well run and enjoys good finances, the plane is extremely cheap to run, and I realized that for most of the kind of small-plane flying I do, a Cub can't be beat. I bought the share, and last weekend got checked out by the club's instructor. This Wednesday I took Dawn for her first sunset cruise on a warm evening with the door and windows open. It was lovely.

So, now I'm a bona fide airplane owner, even if it's only 1/12th of an airplane. I suppose this is another intermediate step to Dawn and I someday owning a little Cub or Champ or Luscombe of our own. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to having lots of adventures with this one, as well as the 170 when I have more than one passenger or want to venture further afield. I'm tempted to bring the Cub to Oshkosh this year for the planned 75th anniversary celebration, but it's a bit far to take such a slow airplane (and there's no room for camping gear) so I'll likely fly the 170 into OSH again. The rest of the summer, though, I plan to keep the Cub busy terrorizing the grass strips of Minnesota!