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Cooke’s classic Cub page 2

ken armstrong has a mystical experience

I quickly learned the Cub has a “who cares” attitude. It really doesn’t matter how well you know her, she just gets on with the task at hand and regardless of your skill level, will ensure you get what you want. It’s necessary to stop here and point out an obscured truth. You have to read a lot of my 350 pilot evaluations to learn which of the aircraft please me in every conceivable way of flying. All aircraft are honest, you simply have to discover their truths. Occasionally, not at all often, I have the pleasure of meeting an aircraft that I respect, honour and love at the same time.

Within one minute of start-up, I knew the Cub on floats was special, and because I didn’t have to write an evaluation on Cooke’s Delight, I just relaxed and opened my senses to her messages. Ron was particularly helpful because he didn’t dictate a litany of speeds or techniques as he assumed I knew what I was doing. So, with a runup and takeoff check complete, standard float techniques were applied (such as I know them) and because the Cub wasn’t demanding of skills the takeoff proceeded smoothly. One can’t see a lot of instrumentation from the back seat with Ron perched on his thick “cheater’s seat”; however, it really isn’t necessary as the Cub readily advises where her sweet spot is located and the 90 hp makes short work out of the boating.

Our gross weight climb isn’t awe inspiring, but who wants to rush away from the stunning lakefront setting. Besides, these controls are so light and responsive I reckon I’ll have to do a whole lot of clearing turns during the climb. Ron might be assuming I’ve lost control of the aircraft, but these controls are delightful and every wheeling turn exposes more glorious leaves turning colour.

When prodded, Ron tells me 55 mph is a good climb speed and as we approach our average cruising altitude (best described as somewhere above the terrain), I ask what our cruising speed should be. Ron replies, “you’re there.” He has me head over to some scenic lakes and I cease climbing at 500 feet or so and level off at such and such an airspeed–it really doesn’t matter. The power is pulled back to about 2,250 or something like that and the exact fuel flow is insignificant. The Cub moseys up to an indicated airspeed of approximately 80 mph–much too fast for an intensive surveying of the gorgeous countryside. Did I tell you about the controls?

And then there’s the low speed handling–come to think of it, top speed is still low speed handling on the Cub–relatively speaking–especially, if your relative is a Found. (But that’s another story.) Now that I’ve discovered fun flying (and a scenic location to hover over), I ask Ron if he minds me doing a stall. “Fill your boots” the intercom replies. I doodle around with the pre-stall check and slowly decay the speed until she nods ever so gently as if pointing to the great scenery that was hiding under the nose. Recovery is instant. Immediately, I’m looking for something else to test so we can stay airborne longer. But, no longer best describes the remaining amount of daylight.

With no flaps to phase into the approach and only the intercom suggestion to keep the speed at anything above 50 mph, we start our glide for Cooke’s Paradise. And glide we do. Good grief, she may not have been in a rush to climb to altitude but she certainly doesn’t want to head down either. To save super cooling the engine in the deep, dense and fairly dark air, I maximize the rudder deflection and match it with aileron to set up a sideslip that exposes all kinds of previously unseen landscape–it just gets better with every minute.

This Cub is easy to land, too. The very lightness of the aircraft allows an extremely high level of instant feedback that tells you exactly what is happening. Bigger aircraft with larger amounts of inertia are much slower at providing the signals that make a pilot look good, with the result they tend to be landed rather mechanically.

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vortex generators on a cub?
Reported by Carol Cooke

Our J-3 started life like all other 1946 models–with a Continental 65. A previous owner made the Cub a water bird in 1981, and upgraded to 90 hp in 1984. We purchased her in ’88 and have been very happy with the performance–no other aircraft in our area can beat NFK out of the water. (When you are talking Cubs, the only meaningful performance is “off the water”.)

For years we have looked at the ads for vortex generators and talked about them–but it wasn’t until my husband got to fly a homebuilt Wagabond and experience first-hand how they change the characteristics of slow flight–that he decided to buy. On December 25 they were under the Christmas tree, a gift from our flying cats, Sylvester and Junior (purchased from Micro AeroDynamics).

Many flights were logged this past spring with a stop watch to establish with certainty the accuracy of any performance change. The vortex generators install very easily with explicit instructions from the manufacturer. First wing took five hours, the second only two. Weather was quite cool during installation, so the glue was left overnight to cure. The modified Cub took to the air May 30 on its test flight. Post installation, we recreated as closely as possible the conditions during our earlier stop watch tests, making sure the outside temperature, wind and wave conditions were comparable, and that the same amount of fuel was carried. |

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