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First Flight in a Cub

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Oct 12, 2012
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I had been training here in central MA (KFIT Fitchburg, MA) toward a PPL on Cessna 172s and had a little less than 10 hours in my logbook. I turned 69 during this training and as I got closer to the chance of solo, I called the local recomended FAA medical doctor. I quickly realized that I was not going to pass the medical without a lot of escalation for a couple of items. And the process would start again next year at my age. I halted my PPL training and went into mourning for about a two months.

A friend and pilot reminded me that all was not lost and I should go for a sport pilot license and look at LSAs. I found an LSA instructor just a few miles away in Sterling, MA (3B3) not far from my first training facility. He offered to continue training me for a sport license and the taildragger experience on a 1946 Piper Cub.

The local weather kept that first flight in the Cub from happening for all most a week. However, the local weather finally calmed down and I flew the J-3 Cub at Sterling Airport yesterday. The Cub was in nice condition but not a show plane. The engine had been upgraded to a C-85, so it climbed out nicely. Sterling has lots of soaring activity on the weekends so it has both paved and grass runways. We took off and landed on the grass strip… that was my first time on grass.

I was very impressed with the Cub… not what I expected. The taildragger part was easier than all the hype I had been led to believe. But, I was expecting that the Cub would be rickety and scary compared to a Cessna 172. What I found was a plane that was very easy to fly and really ENJOYABLE, and felt solid and secure in the air. The best part was that, with its simplicity, you "just fly the plane" instead of flying the instrument panel all the time. With the instructor up front, I could not easily see the instruments anyway.

It’s a real trick to get into the back seat with this old body of mine. I did finally get there and getting out was easier. I have decided to do some stretching before the next Flight. However, it is kind of tight back there, especially where your feet go on each side of the front seat. I ended up getting a mild cramp in my right ankle toward the end of the hour flight. I also have a good reason now to lose 20 lbs so I can move the stick all the way back with less trouble..

I am scheduled for Monday and Thursday mornings next week to formally restart my training toward a Sport license. I will be doing my first takeoff and I hope landing in the Cub. If the FAA rules are relaxed on the medical requirement in the future, I can move up to a Recreational license or full PPL.

Thanks for the good advice I got here on the forum... especially from Jim Cunningham (JimC)

Brian Sanborn
Groton, MA
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