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Cooke’s classic Cub page 3

ken armstrong has a mystical experience

Piper Cub C-FNFK in the air

Flying for the fun of it low and slow near North Bay.

How about seconds?
The next day, we helped with some landscaping at the Cooke’s new hangar on North Bay airport and then quickly escaped for a week in the farther north to recover from the exercise. Back for another visit, our most excellent hosts offer one more flight. (Linda also accepts the gracious offer–and cuts into my flight time!)

On this outing, it took me less than 15 minutes to get into the back seat (there is a modicum of hyperbole here) and I was comfortable with the location of the piece of string (it’s actually a cable) that raises and lowers the water rudder. I also remember the location of the throttle, distant trim control and the rudders (which Piper tries to hide alongside the front of Ron’s seat). I also know where I couldn’t find a flap handle–everywhere.

Once again, Ron starts the engine with the flick of the first prop blade and it makes about as much noise as a Harley Davidson with a stalled engine at the traffic lights–minus all the swearing. The translucent water graciously parts, leaving an ever-spreading V as a reminder that we had visited that portion of the lake. Ron tells me the neighbours don’t complain about his water operations–but why should they? The Cub is nearly as quiet as an electric lawnmower (same power) and leaves a wake roughly equivalent to a row boat–besides, that big wing provides lots of shade for everyone on a hot summer day and it contributes almost nothing to the depletion of Iraq’s fuel reserves.

This time, I asked Ron to show me a perfect takeoff and this proves to be a good learning experience. Ron nurses the sweet spot expertly for maximum acceleration, and in the relatively smooth water coaxes her up onto one pontoon to reduce water friction and the takeoff distance by approximately 10%–but who’s counting. My turn comes to imitate and while it lacks his smooth moxie, it all works just fine.

Next, he leads me to smooth water to practise glassy water landings. I am quite familiar with the technique of conducting a power-on, shallow approach but Ron increases my finesse by having me trim all force out of the controls so the increasing ground effect will trigger my awareness of the approaching water. He points out that the reduced induced drag created by the ground cushion actually causes the airspeed to increase close to the water. Indicating that I have never seen this before, he benevolently points out that the speed increase likely isn’t noticeable on a larger aircraft due to its higher inertia. At any rate, the series of landings is very educational and rewarding to this pilot more used to heavier aircraft.

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vortex generators on a cub?
Reported by Carol Cooke

Before vortex generators

Average time out of water at 38 mph (10 takeoffs timed, starting at 2,000 rpm): 13 seconds

Climb 500 feet: 40 seconds (at 60 mph)

Power-off stall: 39 mph

Power-on stall: 32 mph (1,500 rpm)

Slow flight: 40 mph indicated; level flight (1,800 rpm)


after installation

Average time out of water at 36 mph (or less): 10 seconds

Climb 500 feet: 32 seconds (at 50 mph)

Power-off stall: virtually non-existent (Airspeed drops to 35, nose drops slightly, airspeed back up to 39, then gradually decreases again.)

Power-on stall: 30 mph (1,500 rpm)

Slow flight: 40 mph indicated; level flight (1,600 rpm)

Notes: All rpm readings uncorrected. The addition of Micro vortex generators has made a really safe airplane even safer. Mr. Piper would be impressed. A J-3 Cub + Continental 90 + vortex generators = poor man’s Super Cub! © 2011. All Rights Reserved