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Low pass, Piper PA-18 Super Cub, Chitina River, Alaska | by bwminseattle
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Low pass, Piper PA-18 Super Cub, Chitina River, Alaska

The Piper PA-18 "Super Cub" is a two-seat, single-engine airplane. Introduced in 1949 by Piper Aircraft, it was developed from the Piper PA-11, and traces its lineage back through the J-3 to the Taylor E-2 Cub of the 1930's. In close to 40 years of production, over 9,000 were built. Super Cubs are commonly found in roles such as bush flying, banner and glider towing, and other situations in which short field performance is required. It is considered to be one of the most sought after bush planes in the world. Even new bush planes, such as the Husky, can not take off and land as short as a Super Cub.


While based on the design of the earlier Cubs, the addition of an electrical system, flaps, and a vastly more powerful engine, make it a very different flying experience. Although the "standard" Super Cub was fitted with a 150 horsepower (112 kW) Lycoming engine, it was not uncommon to see them equipped with a 180 hp (134 kW) powerplant. The high-lift wing and powerful engine made the Super Cub a prime candidate for conversion to either floatplane or skiplane. In addition, the PA-18A (an agricultural version) was produced for applying either dry chemical or liquid spray.


The Super Cub retained the basic "rag and tube" (fabric stretched over a steel tube frame) structure of the earlier J-3 Cub.

PA-18 Super Cub 150 (G-HACK) at the Great Vintage Fly-In Weekend, Kemble, England, in May 2003


The first true "Super" Cubs had flaps, dual fuel tanks, and an O-235 Lycoming engine producing about 108 hp (115 hp for takeoff only). However, a 90 hp Continental without flaps and an optional second wing tank was available. Their empty weight was, on the average, 800-1000 pounds with a gross weight of 1,500 lb. These Cubs would take off in about 400 feet (at gross weight) and land in about 300 feet (thanks to the flaps). The Super cub is renowned for its ability to take off and land in very short distances. With a light wing loading some can take off in 50 feet and land in 30. The O-290 Lycoming powered Cubs (135 hp) followed and would take off in about 200 feet. The landing distance remained the same at about 400 feet, or 300 feet using flaps. With the use of the Lycoming O-320 at 150-160 hp, the Cub's allowable gross weight increased to 1,750 lb while retaining the capability of a mere 200 feet for takeoff.

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Taken on June 30, 2003