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Well-Known Member
Sep 23, 2015
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I'm new to the J-3 forum so I don't know your protocol for saying hi. Probably someone will insist on a picture of the plane at some point if it's anything like the various car forums I've been on over the years. Dad has a J-3 in the One True Color, Cub Yellow, and I've been working on my primary flight training in it (cheap hours and I can learn unburdened by gyro instruments, leaning, or flying too high to read road signs and find the way home). We are way up in North Dakota so our density altitude is nice and low and so far I can say that the 85hp J-3 is an absolute blast to fly, the only real hard thing being its stubborn refusal to stay on the ground once you pick up the tail on takeoffs or bounce it on landings. I have a great instructor so I don't plan on bugging anyone around here for tips on how to fly. But I wanted to introduce myself a bit and then ask for some tips on other questions I have:

1. How good do you need to be with on-field operations before you would suggest tackling off-field operations? North Dakota is basically devoid of trees. Most of it is flat, but we are in the western reaches where there are rolling hills and the Badlands. There is plenty of discussion here that I have already read about what kind of clearing you need to be comfortable landing a J-3, but what about stick and rudder skills / time?

2. Related to that, how smooth does your runway need to be? Dad has a few acres here and there where the land is flat enough to land the J-3 and have a mile to spare, but we have no idea how to measure if it's smooth enough not to seriously risk damage to the landing gear (which of course would lead to seriously damaging the prop, crankshaft, wings, empennage, pilot undergarments, passengers, etc., and all of that miles from an airport).

3. Does anyone here have a lot of experience taking photos out of the J-3? My wife and I just got a new fancy camera and, once I'm comfortable enough to take a leisurely flight around the countryside with the door open, I would like to combine the two new hobbies. But I don't want to drop the camera out of the plane. If I did that, I'd be praying it hits someone's car and dents the roof so the FAA will put me in jail before my wife finds out just how hard I dropped the camera. So, what camera straps are recommended to keep a DSLR out of the way of the stick but securely within the airplane? Any other tips?

4. What other cool things can you do with a J-3 that I'm not thinking of? It's not going to save me any time on cross-country trips compared to the car, especially since bathroom breaks in the Cub require a little bit more time than if you had the good sense to just drive. But I want to get as much benefit (read: fun) out of flying the Cub as I possibly can.

5. The lower door makes it a little breezy in the cockpit. It's cooling off out there and I'm not quite ready to fly with the door open even if it were hot out. We are going to get the leather lower door seal that a member of this forum has up for sale, but I think that just deals with the hinged edge of the door. Does anyone have tips on sealing up the leading and trailing edges of the lower door? I think if we can plug those off and do the weight and balance calculation for wool underwear and mittens, the Cub will be a 4-season airplane.

6. Speaking of that 4th season of flying, what can you tell us about skis? Are they worth the hassle or should we just land at the airport all winter? Our luck is such that buying a set of skis would give us 5 years of open winters without any snow at all, but the price of learning your options is always a lot less than the price of trying out non-options.


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