Buy now – pay now Order online – pay now View our aviation books
canaero - Canadian aviation history

Cooke’s classic Cub page 4

ken armstrong has a mystical experience

Ron displays his trust in my broad-based aviation background and highly honed skills by sitting on his hands and showing his complete confidence in my aircraft handling. This attitude has a tendency to irk Mr. Fate. On my next glassy water landing, I learn that the deceleration of the floats in smooth water is much greater and very noticeable in such a light aircraft. I’m not holding enough firm back pressure on the stick as the floats began to sink deeper in the water with reducing airspeed and the Cub begins to trip over her floats. I immediately pulled back in correction; however, that did not stop Ron from quickly ripping his hands from under his cheeks. I’m told the surgical operation to remove the seat cushion was a complete success. (Truth to tell, Ron says he keeps his hands cupped about two inches ahead of the stick during landings to overcome any tendency for a guest pilot to test the buoyancy of the wings.)

There is a moral to this story that I have learned many times. No matter who you are flying with, never completely trust their every activity and be sure to remain alert and check everything for yourself. This is especially true when flying with a sometimes inattentive individual such as myself. It’s always wise to turn around to ensure the pilot flying hasn’t dozed off to dreamland during the final approach.

When I figure Ron’s endurance was near an end from my constant abuse of his engine with circuit after circuit, I asked him if I could beat his floats into submission on the dock. Actually, my exact words were more like, “Mind if I practise some docking manoeuvres?” He foolishly assented. This is an area of skill that varies greatly between aircraft and float types. However, it turns out that the big difference with the Cub is, it’s too easy! We each tried various aggressive techniques but we were both unable to inflict any damage to the floats or the docks–so we eventually gave up. Well, that and the fact that it was dark enough to have trouble finding his docks.

The plane was muscled into its hangar mooring (with our little fingers) and tied down after one of the last float flights of the year. Walking away, I realized how wrong I had been to think of the Cub as an inefficient little toy. She may not have a lot of modern aerodynamic advances, but the design is a perfect balance of what is needed to carry two people to almost any “landable” area in a manner that allows the intense enjoyment of the freedom of flight along the way. I used to think their resale value was overpriced–now I realize the aircraft’s values may be understated.

Many thanks to Carol and Ron for a truly inspirational aviation experience. And P.S. Ron, I haven’t forgotten the drink I owe you. |

Piper J-3C Cub
The following specifications and performance applies to a Piper J-3 Cub with a 65 hp engine. There are many variations in the Cub series powered by a broad range of engines. Obviously, performance differs considerabl
y–other than the fact they are all slow. My out-of-date aircraft Blue Book indicates prices for a “late model” half-time 1947 Piper Cub J-3C might be in the $35,000 to $45,000 range. They may be slow, have a low service ceiling, but they are way up there in the “dollarsphere.”

Wing span

35 ft., 3 in.


21 ft., 6 in. (22 ft., 3 in. according to Ron’s manual)

Wing area

170 sq. ft.

Wing loading

7.2 lbs./sq. ft.

Empty weight

770 lbs.

Useful load

450 lbs.

Fuel capacity

78 lbs.

Cruise speed

85 mph

Service ceiling

12,000 ft.


250 miles

« Back to story index page | Page [4] of 4

The Aviation History Series

Limited edition, collectible aviation books

Support the growth and expansion of this web site by purchasing our first title, Tales from the Lakeview. Order with confidence using the secure, online credit card processing service by PayPal. Anticipate a great reading experience for yourself, beautifully produced, or send a gift anyone will appreciate.

View our aviation books
View our aviation books
Order online – pay now
217 Bulrush Cres., Gloucester, ON K1T 0E6 Canada

Phone: 613-581-6625
E-mail the publisher © 2011. All Rights Reserved