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!


Blogger AerialGeologist said...

Great post! I learned to fly in Winona but just moved back to the Twin Cities from Missouri and started flying again after a 4-year hiatus. I had my BFR at Anoka the other day which included a landing at Forest Lake, my first time on a grass runway, and it was a lot more enjoyable than I expected.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I enjoy reading your posts! I'm originally from just north of Minneapolis but go to school in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I just started taking my private lessons at the beginning of summer and can't wait to move on. It's nice to have a perspective on what I want my life so someday be like. keep up the good work!

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Did you see the pictures of the engine on the bird strike? It looks wasted to me. I wasn't at work when it happened but the guys tell me the crew did a great job. Have you spoke to the crew yet?


8:23 AM  
Blogger YYC Dispatcher said...


Great post as usual, just curious, what does a 1/12th share of a Cub run (approximately) in today's economy?

YYC Dispatcher

12:18 AM  
Blogger Tim G in MN said...

Cool! I'll think of you and wave when I see a Cub over Maple Grove!

Tim G in MN

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, are you not afraid of that thing??

10:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Lots of Cubs at OSH:

11:00 AM  
Blogger Arin said...

Hey Sam,

Been following your blog all the way back to when you were at your other airline. I'd like your opinion on a few things regarding the career if you don't mind. Could you please email me at if you don't mind to discuss them?



12:29 AM  
Blogger capnaux said...

Love the Cub! It's the quintessential bush plane!! And what a great toy for your "down time."

It's so easy to get jaded in this business, but it's planes like these that keep our childhood dreams alive!

8:22 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Heh, responding to everyone two months after the fact...sorry...

AerialGeologist - Very cool! Glad you got back into flying, for me getting back into flying small planes after several years hiatus was a bit of a revelation. And I love grass strips. It really has little to do with the runway surface and everything to do with how relaxed and friendly such airports are.

LT - didn't see any pictures but heard about it, I know one of the crew. Definitely one of the dangers of MSP, I've taken several birdstrikes over the river but fortunately none in an engine.

Anonymous: I dunno, what's to be afraid of, versus any other small plane? As the saying goes, a Cub can *barely* kill you! The C-75 is a quite reliable engine, and the Cub's construction is extremely sturdy compared to the light stresses of such a slow airplane. There's no electrical system to catch on fire, no gyros to tempt you into VFR-into-IFR!

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't talking about the beautiful J3...

9:50 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

*Scratches head* I might be a bit slow today, but you may have to elaborate.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

The one other thing you could have meant, I'm assuming you're not big enough of an asshole to anonymously come onto a guy's blog and say. That's perhaps a poor assumption. Hope it's not what you meant.

12:50 PM  

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