View Full Version : I sure miss flying Cubs
Hello all. I never been a member of many forums, but after perusing this site for the last few evenings, I figured I'd go ahead and join up.
It's been a while since I last flew a Cub, having been mostly flying Twin Otters, Skyvans, DC-3s and Pilatus Porters for the past few years, but there was a spell back in the 80s when I flew all over the continental US of A in a PA18-150 doing aeromagnetic surveys (real low and real slow) and whenever I was around home, which was in SLC, Utah back then, I played around in 1946 J-3 with a Continental 85 out front. Those were some of the best flying times of my 30 years of defying gravity.
I'll have to dig out the old photo albums and scan a few photos of those airplanes at some of the out of the way places I landed at during both work and play.
I learned to fly in a Luscombe and never have figured out them durn areoplanes with the tailwheel on the wrong end. I'm looking forward to geting to know a few of you folks who post here. I've sure enjoyed browsing through the various threads and they've surely brought back some fond memories.
This forum even jogged me into checking up on the N-number of my old SuperCub and I was happy to see its still on the FAA's records and evidently flying up in Alaska. I nearly broke down and shed a tear the day that fellow dropped a wad of cash on the desk at the old office and departed to the great north in the triple nickel.
01-08-2009, 02:12 PM
you'll love this informative thread. if you've got a question about cubs this is the place to be.
i had'nt flown cubs for 33 yrs. but last summer i bought another and i will be "going out" with my tailwheel behind.
by the way i joined 1 yr. ago so it only takes about 6 mo. of these cub guys before you want to be one of them.
01-08-2009, 02:45 PM
Sounds like you could tell a few stories yourself. :D
01-08-2009, 03:49 PM
Zing, I see you have two of aviation's best airplanes the J3 and the DC3.
All the rest are just airplanes...except of course for the PBY. :wink:
I've been at home quite a bit lately waiting to hear from the Feds whether or not I'm going to get my medical back after having a little glitch with my ticker.
With all the spare time on my hands, I finally managed to get my scanner working and dug out a few old photo albums. I hope you won't mind me inflicting a few photos on you all.
These first few are a PA-18-150, N57555, that I flew aeromag in for a few years.
This one was taken in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where we were locating kimberlites for a company that hoped to mine industrial diamonds from. You can see the magnetometer mounted off the right wing on a couple of cut down Cessna 150 wing struts and there is a video camera mounted in the left wing struts inside a weatherproof box.
This one shows the first magnetometer we tried to use mounted below the wingtip in a frame we built with Cub Crafters assistance. We never could get that set-up to work properly.
This one is on the beach of a tidal island just south of Tybee Island, Georgia.
More to come ...
This photo was taken during a survey at the Sleeper Mine, a gold mining operation near Winnemucca, Nevada. The mine and the mountains just above it are in an area that has a bunch of low level military training routes passing through. During the month or so we were there, I had several close encounters with military aircraft. An F-4, F-111, A6 and some other fighter type that went by so fast I wasn't able to identify it.
The lines for this survey all started at the top of a ridge line I couldn't out climb so I'd come back from the end of a 5-mile long line in a climb and make a cropduster turn into the next line going downhill.
Right in the middle of one turn a huge shadow blocked out the sun, a shadow cast by a B-52 that was so close I could count the rivets ... I swear the tailgunner had blue eyes!
This one was after a deadstick landing into Baton Rouge, La. after I sucked a valve in the number one cylinder. Pieces of the valve beat through the piston and chunks of metal went everywhere. The vibration got so bad, even at extremely low throttle while I was trying to find a place to land that it ruined most of the gauges in the panel. I was seriously considering putting the planer into the river running through town because all the roads and freeways were crammed with rush hour traffic and it was looking grim. I wasn't familiar with the area, but thanks a real savvy air traffic controller who gave great directions I made it to the airport safe and sound. The worst problem I had was convincing the airport's fire crew to not hose down the airplane with with water and foam. The airplane was only worth about $20-grand back then, but the one-of-a-kind aeromag gear was worth close to $1-million.
This happened during the end of the basketball season and the local university team was being filmed boarding a flight to the playoffs. Imagine my surprise when I finally got to a hotel, turned on the tv and got to watch myself come gliding in behind the airliner with those B-ball players walking up the airstairs.
In another thread, I mentioned some f the off-airport landings I used to do and talked about this place, although I mis-remembered the highway number. Its at Currant, Nevada, along Hwy 6, "The loneliest highway in America.
Here's one with the Supercub parked at the gas pump at Currant, Nevada. In the background is Currant's claim to fame, which was reputed to be the largest plastic cow in the world back in about 1984.
Here's one of the display screen mounted above the instrument panel in the Cub. I'd get a message from the ground station on the display saying "Do line #####" and when I'd get close to the coordinates, the pipper on the far left side would come alive and then all I had to do was fly the pipper to the center of the crosshairs. By keeping the pipper centered, I'd be on the line at the correct altitude.
This shot was taken during a survey west of the Chocolate Mountains in California. This was a typical altitude for our surveys, terrain and airplane performance permitting.
This photo is on another beach that is most likely somewhere near Galveston, Texas where we were searching for another German submarine that was sunk during WWII. We did not find it in the survey area.
The photo could have been taken down in Florida near Vero Beach where we demonstrated to Mel Fischer, who found the sunken galleon Atocha, that we could locate the cannons from sunken ships.
Oops, got those last two photos in the wrong order.
Here's a couple photos of the J-3, NC70471, with a Continental 85 on the front. It belonged to flying club in Salt Lake City and was hangared at SLC#2 airport. For a couple years, I was the only one who flew it because all the other club members were scared of the tailwheel.
I flew that airplane all over Utah and parts of Arizona, landing in all sorts of out of the way places like this one, which I believe is Skull Valley in Arizona.
This airplane came to a sad end. Around 1985, a retired fellow who had worked at the Lockhaven plant building Cubs took the airplane to his farm and spent the winter doing a complete rebuild and recover and engine overhaul.
When it came back to the airport in the Spring, it was just like a brand new airplane. He'd even come up with an original airspeed indicator that had the cub logo on its face, if memory serves.
Prior to the rebuild, the airplane was essentially sound, but was showing its age in a few places.
I remember doing some mild acro in it one day prior to the overhaul and at the bottom of a loop the rear seat sling failed just below the top laces. There was a loud bang and the next thing I knew i had the elevator horn firmly planted between the cheeks of my posterior. It made for an interesting flight back to the airport to land.
Anyway, after the rebuild, it was such a gorgeous little airplane that a few folks decided they should fly it. I'd put about 25 hours on it already when another fellow who was not yet checked out to fly solo came to the airport to fly.
The instructor canceled at the last minute, but the this guy decided to solo himself. He took off okay, but as he was flying around away from the airport, the winds came up strong and gusty. He managed to land the cub in a farmer's field without hurting it, but a crowd started to gather and a cop showed up, so he decided to take off again and wrapped the airplane up in a ball in the farm field. He walked away uninjured.
I came home from a survey trip and landed at SLC#2 to refuel the Supercub and spotted a pair of smashed wings in the FBO's hanger with NC70471 painted on them. I got to look over the wreck and it was bad. I shed a few tears over that airplane's demise.
01-17-2009, 12:07 AM
NICE pictures! Puleeze keep 'em coming!
More stories too :D
Welcome to Sc.org <g>
01-17-2009, 12:14 AM
Here's a couple shots of a couple other Cubs I had the privledge to fly.
This PA-11 belonged to a fellow I used to DC-3s with. I took the photo from a C-45 Twin Beech as we were heading down to Puerto Penasco, Mexico for a skydiving boogie.
The owner of the PA-11 also flew for Game and Fish in Alaska and I believe the airplane ended up making the trip to the north. Last time I saw Jim, I think he said he'd sold it, but wished he hadn't. It's registration was N78801.
I did my float plane rating in this Supercub over at Lake Havasu in Arizona. It was 4th of July weekend and the scenery up and down the Colorado River and around the lake was outrageous during the two days I flew with Joe Jr. I'm sure Clouddancer would have appreciated the breasticular endowments and lack of bikini tops that enhanced the scenery.
That's Joe Jr. sitting in the back reading my copy of "How To Fly A Floatplane while were practicing sailing around out on the lake.
These photos sure bring back a lot of fond memories. I'm hoping to someday get the chance to do a few flights in a Cub again.
Glad that a few of you enjoyed the photos, and thanks for the warm welcome ... those were some grand times. Maybe I'll take the time to write up a few of my misadvantures.
Would it be out of line to put up a story I wrote a couple years ago after flting for the guy who made 640 parachute jumps in 24 hours?
I submitted it to several flying mags, but it never got printed. I'll go see if I can find it and the pictures. It didn't involve any Cubs, but the airplane I flew had the third wheel where God meant for it to be.
In September of 2006 one man successfully completed 640 non-stop parachute jumps, and set a new world record for the most parachute jumps in a single 24 hour period. I was the chief pilot and one of five who flew the aircraft used to complete the mission. The event was a charity fundraiser for Special Olympics and the Special Operations Warrior Fund.
On a chilly, night in the rain at Elsinore, California in 2003, Jay Stokes stepped aboard Skydive Arizona’s Pilatus Porter. “Go … Go … Go,” were the first words out of his mouth. Over the next two hours there was no time for formal introductions while Stokes cranked out 63 parachute jumps, on his way to a record 534 total jumps in 24 hours.
The Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter’s STOL capability is legendary and this mission made maximum use of the aircraft’s performance. After an absurdly short take-off roll, it’s an alarmingly nose-high 2,800 fpm-plus, climbing turn to 2,100 feet AGL. Directly over the runway at 40 knots and idle power, Stokes rolls out the door, then it’s hard over on the stick into a screaming descent. Right beside the airplane, Stokes is deploying his parachute, but there is no time for sight seeing. The steep descent becomes a carving turn to final, flaring onto the dirt runway with the prop hard into reverse thrust. The airplane slows, turns around and Stokes is already coming in the door shouting, “Go … Go … Go!”
Stokes broke the existing world record that night, but foul weather and aircraft problems prevented him from reaching 600 jumps. He finished that jump-marathon convinced that with the right aircraft, weather and support crew, 600 jumps was an achievable goal.
Three years later, a determined Stokes arranged sponsors, dipped into his own wallet when necessary, and gathered a volunteer crew to make the 600-jump goal a reality. Skydive Greensburg, on the Greensburg Municipal Airport in Indiana where Stokes teaches skydiving students and instructors, hosted the record attempt.
Arriving at the airport several days prior to the start date of September 8, I was asked to serve as chief pilot to advise and train the other pilots. Over the next few days, several practice sessions for the pilots took place.
During the day and night practices, Stokes made more than 70 jumps, more parachute jumps than many skydivers make in a year. The brief, but intense, sessions gave the pilots, safety people, ground crew and parachute packers a taste of what setting the record would take.
To meet the required turn-around times, turbine powered aircraft; two PAC-750s and a Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter flew in. The PAC-750, built by Pacific Aircraft Corporation of New Zealand, is a relatively new, purpose-built, skydiving aircraft. The aircraft is powered by a P&W PT6-27 engine and is capable of carrying up to 16 jumpers. A PAC owned by Robert Hallet, N820AB, flew in from Skydive Deland in Florida, and was flown by Bill Buchmann and Brent McClarty. The other PAC, N750SD, flown by owner Mark Pollack, came from Skydive Temple in Salado, Texas.
Ken Fraley flew the Pilatus Porter, N19TX, down from the Skydive Pennsylvania Skydiving Center, located north of Pittsburgh. Fraley and I shared flight duties on the Porter, which is also powered by a P&W PT6-27. It will carry up to 10 jumpers.
The tail-wheeled Porter’s STOL capabilities were known from previous record attempts, but the PACs were untested for this kind of fast turn-around work. Lightly loaded, the PAC’s climb and descent rates are impressive, but with its wing and tricycle gear configuration, the PACs needed more runway for takeoff and landing. Working from the middle of Greensburg’s 3,900-foot paved runway challenged all the pilots’ spot landing technique over and over again.
The pilots’ objective was to get Stokes to a minimum altitude of 2,100 feet AGL as rapidly as possible and, after Stokes jumped, get the airplane safely back on the runway by the time Stokes landed and changed rigs.
Stokes used 27 identical sport parachute rigs, using square ram-air canopies and square reserve parachutes. The rigs were modified with quick-ejector snaps on the chest and leg strap buckles, allowing Stokes to literally step out of the rig as he landed and strap into another rig on the way to the airplane.
Parachutes were inspected and packed under a parachute rigger’s supervision, then transported to the landing zone where a second inspection was performed and the rig placed into the rotation. Every parachute underwent a third visual inspection by a rigger prior to being jumped.
Ancillary equipment included aviator oxygen systems for Stokes and the safety person riding the airplane. Flying with the door open meant Stokes and the safety person were exposed to the engine exhaust, a potentially debilitating factor over a long period.
Preparation and Planning
One jump every two minutes and 24 seconds works out to 600 jumps over 24 hours. The fastest official turnaround time by a Porter during a previous record attempt was two minutes and 5 seconds. That record would fall during the night of September 8. Certified judges representing Guinness World Record, the United States Parachute Association and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale were on hand for the official timing and jump count.
Thursday was devoted to practice flights and final pilot and crew briefings. The nearly brand-new PACs were capable of turnarounds faster than the 2:24 required for 600 jumps in 24 hours, but this Porter, a 40 year-old airplane, heavy with fuel during the practice sessions, struggled to make the turn time. With less fuel on board, the Porter might make the turn time, but the PACs consistently met, or beat, the average time. As long as the airplanes didn’t break, the pilots stayed sharp and everyone else paid attention to safety, we were cautiously optimistic.
Pollack invoked the pilot’s prayer for all of us, “Oh Lord, don’t let me screw this up.”
The aircraft safety person’s job was to attach a safety belt around Stokes as he boarded, make certain the parachute rig was in proper order, monitor Stokes’ physical condition, supply a steady stream of food and liquids, relay to the pilot any changes to the jump run or exit point, then hang on for an E-ticket ride down.
Unlike the low door on the tail-dragging Porter, the PAC’s door is almost four feet above the ground. A sturdy, light-weight box was constructed to allow Stokes to step up and into the PAC with a minimum of effort, but that meant someone had to set the box in place as the aircraft stopped, and then hang on to it in the stinging prop blast of takeoff power. It was miserable duty, but there were willing volunteers to do the job.
The aircraft and pilots were scheduled to fly two hours shifts, allowing ample rest periods, time to fuel the planes and restock oxygen and supplies. Fraley and Buchmann, scheduled to fly skydivers after the record attempt concluded Saturday morning, would fly early shifts Friday and be on standby status if needed. The safety people were assigned to aircraft and time slots, packers and ground crew members were divided into shifts, and preparations were complete.
“We’re going to do this safely, or we’re not going to do it at all,” Stokes said.
The forecast for September 8th and 9th called for fair weather, light winds and an afternoon high temperature of 80 degrees. There had been rain and morning fog earlier in the week. Weather seemed the only thing left to chance. Thursday ended with a dinner celebrating Stokes’ 50th birthday, and a few jabs about his new eligibility for an AARP membership.
Under perfect weather, the crew gathered Friday morning for a last-minute briefing, a short prayer for luck, and the first airplane launched. At 08:00:01 am, Stokes stepped out the door of the PAC, flown by Buchmann. The official clock started counting down the hours while the judges counted up Stokes’ jump. After 45 minutes, Stokes’ choice of airplanes proved to be correct as Buchmann, followed later by Pollack, flew turn around times consistently below the target of two minutes and 24 seconds, averaging 26 and 27 jumps per hour.
Two minutes after takeoff, most pilots are finishing the departure checklist, and settling in for the flight, not spot landing where they just departed, and the door is usually closed. Timing and precision flying were essential to keeping the rhythm flowing with the ground crews’ choreography, and staying within the time constraint. The pilots unanimously agreed it was the most intense flying they have ever done. At the end of a shift, the pilots were drenched in sweat and it took a few minutes of being back on terra firma to wind down from the intensity level of taking off, following a precise pattern to the drop point, and landing every two minutes.
The Porter took to the air at noon as the temperature rose into the low 80s, but with two hours of fuel and reserve on board, it could not match the pace set by the PACs. To save precious time, Pollack’s PAC went back to work hauling Stokes. Fuel was drained from the Porter and the minimum safe amount for one hour of flight was pumped in. The flight schedule was revised placing the Porter back in rotation for one-hour flights while the PACs continued flying two-hour shifts.
The PACs’ door is on the left side of the aircraft, but the Porter’s door is on the right. To keep the landing and boarding area in the same place at midfield dictated that the PACs take off and land to the south, while the Porter took off and landed to the north. Altimeters were set at zero for simplicity. A misread altitude could have deadly consequences.
For safety, a NOTAM was filed officially closing the airport from 7:30 am Friday to 8 am Saturday. There is always someone that does not get the memo. Several aircraft called to enter the pattern and went elsewhere when informed the airport was closed, but one pilot insisted on coming in to land.
“You’ll have one minute to get down and clear the runway,” someone said over the radio, “And there’s a guy from the FAA here who wants to talk to you after you land.” There was no response from the pilot and no aircraft landed.
Skydive Greensburg owner, Bob Dougherty, served as the primary air boss. Dougherty, Stokes and the drop zone staff organized a smooth-running operation that ran for 24 hours without a single major hitch. Plenty of food and soft drinks were available to keep the crew going. When one of the PAC’s landing gear struts went low, a local mechanic rustled up a nitrogen bottle and the plumbing needed to air up the strut.
Around 230 jumps, Stokes pulled a muscle in his leg. Stoically, he sucked it up and kept going, but in the afternoon heat, the leg was cramping. The record was in jeopardy. Dougherty called a halt to the jumps and asked paramedics to check Stokes’ vital signs. Within five minutes, jumping resumed with the safety people encouraging Stokes to drink more liquids to avoid dehydration.
“I had a great crew supporting me,” Stokes said, “and I wasn’t going to let them down.”
Throughout the day and night, hundreds of spectators came to watch the aerial carnival. Media people from a variety of newspapers, radio and television stations were interviewing anyone they could find. An on-line website kept the skydiving community informed of Stokes progress.
At nightfall, portable floodlights illuminated the landing area and lights on the ball diamonds adjacent to the airport were turned on. The lights were helpful for reference to ground features, but ruined the pilots’ night vision. In the Porter, the pilot turned in over the bright ball fields, but descending at 5,000 fpm toward the pitch black farm fields was unsettling. Kite-eating trees, 50 feet tall, waited at both ends of the runway for the careless pilot who overshot the turn to final, but no trees were trimmed that night.
Shortly after midnight, while fueling the Porter, an older gentleman stopped on his way out of the airport for a closer look at the airplanes.
“I’ve been watching you guys go up and down all day, and this reminds me of my days in the Navy during the war,” he said. “You come down just like those Zeros that used to dive on us.”
Thankfully, no one was shooting at us, but some of the residents living near the airport may have wanted to. Turbines are loud and no one near the airport was getting much sleep. Off-duty crew members, friends and family lined the infield cheering Stokes on, staving off the exhaustion everyone was starting to feel.
In the moon-lit darkness and cooler temperatures, aircraft performance improved and the pace picked up a notch. McClarty, flying the Deland PAC, cranked a turnaround time of one minute and 54 seconds. The best turn time on the Porter that night was two minutes and 11 seconds.
Missing in action
Shortly before the sun rose, it seemed for a few minutes that the 600 jump goal might not be reached. Just like the previous 598 times, the airplane took off, flew overhead and descended to the runway, but this time no parachute swooped in to land. McClarty confirmed that Stokes had jumped, but no one saw or heard his parachute. The crew scrambled frantically to find Stokes with no idea where to look. For nearly 10 tense minutes a terrible fear that Stokes was out there in the dark, possibly injured … or worse, spread. The eerie silence broke as cheers erupted from the hangar and Stokes trotted out to the airplane, grabbed the next rig and resumed his quest.
On jump 599, Stokes was answering “the call of nature” into a bottle during the climb. McClarty had just started flying his final two-hour shift and had turned wide in the climb, reaching 2,100 feet before the aircraft was over the airport. Stokes, finished his business, looked at the altimeter and seeing the correct altitude, rolled out the door, immediately realizing his error. Landing near a road, he flagged down a vehicle for a ride from a farmer on his way to the airport to see “the guy making all those jumps.” Characteristically, Stokes later insisted it was his error that resulted in his landing off the airport. Stokes refused to count that jump in the record.
Seconds before 8 am, Saturday morning, Stokes landed jump 641. Surrounded by jubilant family, friends and support crew, he looked fresher than many of us who helped make the record happen.
During a pilots’ post-mortem Saturday evening, we determined that with three PACs and six qualified pilots, 700 jumps, maybe even 730, is possible. That is, if another person with superhuman stamina and determination ever decides to try and break the record. Stokes met and exceeded his goal, and promised his wife there will be no more record attempts for him, “unless” Stokes later said, “someone breaks my record.”
Copyright, Oct 2006 Robert M. Engstrom AOPA 00818466
Willard Lee (Jay) Stokes was born September 7, 1956. Currently a resident of Yuma, Arizona, he retired in 1998 after a 24-year Army career, serving 21 years in Special Forces with the Green Berets. He is married with three children, including a son with cerebral palsy. A private pilot, he holds all (21) the military and civilian parachute ratings and is considered one of the top skydiving instructors worldwide.
Additional information about Stokes and his charity fund raising efforts is available at Stokes’ official website, mostjumps2006.com on the Internet.
Jay Stokes’ world records
• 1st Guinness World Record, 331 jumps in 24 hours, 31 May 1995, Raeford, North Carolina
• 2nd Guinness World Record, 384 jumps in 24 hours, 27 November 1997, Somerton Airport, Arizona
• 3rd Guinness World Record, 476 jumps in 24 hours, 13 November 1999, Somerton Airport, Arizona
• 4th Guinness World Record, 534 jumps in 24 hours, 11 November 2003, Elsinore, California
• 5th Guinness World Record, 640 jumps in 24 hours, 8 September 2006, Greensburg. Indiana
Robert M. (Zing) Engstrom, a pilot and journalist/photographer residing in Florence, Arizona, began flying in 1971 and started skydiving in 1972. An AOPA member since 1983, Engstrom has flown a variety of aircraft for geophysical survey work and the majority of aircraft types utilized by the U.S. skydiving industry, including the Douglas DC-3. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
01-17-2009, 01:21 AM
Hey Zing, a few years back, I had lunch with a geophysicist to talk about magnetometers for a project I had in mind, and he told me about blowing five mil trying to get lab standard calibrations from a right-wing mounted mag on a supercub. Seems they eventually gave up and went to a Wren, due to airframe flexure that dorked up his readings.....I decided right then I wasn't going to ever hire him to do any engineering...reading your story, I wondered if that plane was the one you were flying.....fob
If you slogged all the way through that, you might have an idea why it was never published, but thanks for reading it anyway.
You may well have talked to one of the guys on the crew. Was his name Bill Petrick? I think there might have been a bit of exaggeration about how much was spent getting that Supercub going. In reality, we had just many problems with the magnetometer on the Wren as we did on the Supercub. At one point we looked at getting a custom built airframe for the Supercub built out of aluminum, but decided it wasn't feasible.
We did eventually switch to a Wren as a survey plane. It wasn't nearly as fun as the Supercub. Still, that Wren is an impressive performing airplane in its own right.
It was a funny looking bird with the Wren canard out front and a 9-foot long boom sticking out from the tail. It was during the time that Cessna had stopped manufacturing single-engine airplanes. Whilst traveling around in it and stopping at airports people would check out that rather phallic looking tailboom and when they asked what it was for, I used to say that since Cessna wasn't building them anymore, we were going to start breeding them.
01-17-2009, 10:28 AM
That name does sound very familiar...I'm checking with a friend on that....back in the early 70's, I did a lot of consulting work for LEERCO, (Jim Lindsay) They had a 182 with an Owl STOL conversion, and dragged around a proton mag on a cable....it had a big hole in the belly, diverting the control cables, to mount the camera. I don't recall them ever complaining much about the mag, I know they thought that was the best way to use it...
01-17-2009, 12:05 PM
Being an old jump plane pilot and being from Arizona, do you know my old freefall photographer friend Mike McGowan at Skydive Arizona in Eloy.
If so ask him if he knows Mike Sisemore and tell him I said howdy. Let me know what he says.
Hey Mike, I'll tell McGowan next time i see him. I've hauled him up a lot of times. Your name sounds familiar, have we met somewhere through skydiving? Zing
01-17-2009, 05:34 PM
We probably met, I started in 1970 and did a little photography work.
Call McGowen and tell him howdy.
Great stuff! This is what this site is all about!
Steve's Aircraft (Brian)
01-17-2009, 11:07 PM
Great read on the record breaking. My shop is at Beagle Sky Ranch in southern Oregon. There has been an active skydiving group here since the early 60's. A few years ago, the owner of the operation (George) did 60 jumps on his 60th birthday out of I believe a 182. Watching that I could see the shear amount of manpower it must have taken to do over 600 in 24 hours. Amazing feat. George is in his 70's now and still flies his 185, operates a backhoe business and still jumps out of perfectly good airplanes.
01-17-2009, 11:19 PM
Fun to check out yer pictures... I'd forgotten about the cow at Currant.. Someplace in my boxes of pictures, I have a T-craft parked in the same place. That little store/station/cafe has been closed now for a lot of years.
The military is still buzzin us tho....
01-18-2009, 12:04 AM
I used to fly 19TX myself back in 1994 and 1995 at Skydive Dallas and Waller, TX. It was still in the pink Drop Zone movie paint then. Also used to fly with Brent and Bill at Deland. I think we have some other mutual friends as well. Sorry to hear about the medical issues.
Good to see another old elevator here.
Its kind of fun stumbling around a forum like this one. Ya never know who you might run into from an old acquaintance to someone who's crossed paths with the same airplanes and folks you've met along the way.
I recall jumping out of the Pink Flamingo at Deland on one of my stops through there. Its now known as the Wonder Bread Porter and lives at a dropzone in Pennsylvania.
Up until recently, I was flying another porter in Arizona that would have given those PACs a run for the money on turn times during that jumpathon.
I've got a couple aviating yarns written up. If I can find them, I'll post them here if that doesn't go to much against the title of this particular forum ... being as it is supposed to be about Supercubs.
01-18-2009, 09:31 AM
Great pictures and stories. If it's any consolation, we used a P2V Neptune, and never found that German sub in the Gulf either. I flew 6 years in the Reserves as a "Madman". Many, many boring patrols, with 8 hours on station. But we had some fun runs at 200' down Padre Is. at night with the arc lamp.
01-18-2009, 10:04 AM
If I missed it in the story I'm sorry but was there any malfunctions and reserve rides in the record jump? Great story on how everyone involved pulled together to make this possible. Almost sounds like the guy doing the jumps had the easiest job that day.
Nope, no malfunctions or reserve rides during the record attempt. There was one malfunction that resulted in a cutaway and reserve ride during the practice sessions two days prior to the record jumpathon.
Here's another little write up I've gone through to shorten it up a bit. Ya'll can blame Cloudancer for having to read through the tripe I put on paper. Hell, everybody knows them airline captains like him got nothing but time on their hands, especially when flyin around in them new-fangled type push-button areoplanes.
If he'd write more, I wouldn't have so much time on my hands to post the following.
(P.S. Iff'n I knowed what them smiley-faced things meant and how to use them, I'd have a few scattered in that last paragraph to indicate that it was meant to be humorous, and not insulting.)
Sliding back the door released a muted odor of avgas and that scent exuded from fabric and dope airplanes. In the shadows sat a neglected J-3 Cub, built just after the end of WWII, that had wended its way through one owner to another until it ended up in the keep of a small flying club in Salt Lake City. Thick layers of dust obscured the faded yellow paint and windscreen, but the shiny prop spinner, the bald tires and the oddly warped right wingtip bow whispered “fly me.” I was dazzled by the buried gold waiting in that hangar.
Rolling the plane out into the sun, a few swipes with a dust mop revealed a somewhat shabby, but sound airplane. The oil in the Continental 85-horse was still amber colored from an annual inspection a few months prior, but this J-3 hadn’t flown in almost a year, and rarely before that. The club’s tailwheel instructor said that in years gone by, a number of pilots flew it, but now everybody wanted airplanes with radios and transponders and, gasp, electric starters. I managed not to scare the instructor during a couple hours of crash and dash go-arounds, stalls and spins. Soon I had that little treasure of an airplane all to myself.
My first airplane ride as a kid, as memorable as first flights should be, was in an Aeronca Champ, followed by lessons in a Luscombe and rides in various Cubs, Citabrias, a Funk and Cessnas. In the years between those early lessons and finally earning my pilot’s certificate, skydiving out of Twin Beechs, DC-3s, Cessnas and a gnarly Stinson V-77 Gullwing kept me close to flying. I soaked up every aviating book and magazine from the libraries and bookstands and met that J-3 with less than 250 hours in my logbook. Of all the planes flown over 12,000 hours in tailwheels to big twins, that little yellow airplane is the epitome of the essence of flying.
Any time the urge or opportunity arose, the J-3 was waiting and willing to go fly. It wasn’t long before I’d learned the airport’s paved runway was long enough for five, even six, climb to 50 feet and cut the power touch-n-goes. Despite a hand-held radio for traffic calls, there was little warning about the Air Guard helicopters doing auto-rotations to the infield while transmitting on another frequency. A Huey auto-rotating to touchdown right beside the runway you are about to land on is downright terrifying … and a good opportunity to exercise those unusual attitude recoveries mentioned during your flight training.
While I stumbled through attaining some consistent smoothness doing mild aerobatics, the J-3 taught me the nuances of the air, shuddering when I horsed it around on the slow end and stiffening against me the couple times I took us on excursions beyond the airspeed’s redline. Mostly, it let me play around until I thought I was starting to understand that stuff in Stick And Rudder, Rolls Around A Point and Conquest Of Lines And Symmetry, and then the stick would give a shake as we departed controlled flight, invariably inverted, just to let me know I wasn’t such a hot-shot pilot after all.
From ten years spent skydiving, I had an emergency parachute, trusted it and knew how to use it. I always wore a rig doing acro and would have had no problem bailing out if the need arose, but that J-3 would fly into and out of any attitude asked of it, as long as it was flown properly. Flown wrong, the airplane would show you a new attitude, then nonchalantly flop back over on its belly and recover into a shallow dive, “Okay stupid … your airplane again.”
Though pushing 40 years old and showing decades of wear and tear, the J-3 was rigged properly, flew straight and level hands off, and I’d been through it from stem to stern, washing it, and cleaning out years of grime in the cockpit, fuselage and wings. I did get one clear reminder about aging airplane parts.
My aerobatic repertoire consisted of spins, hammerheads, whifferdills, loops and rolls and I’d been doing all of them pretty smoothly for more than an hour one day. It occurred to me that I might try combining maneuvers, going right into another from the last. I tried a half roll at the top of a loop, fumbled through a Cuban-8, then dove for a loop, intending to come out the bottom and attempt a four-point roll. Pulling to the downside of the loop, I kept it vertical an extra second or two for airspeed, fed in a touch of extra throttle, leveled out at the bottom and pulled the nose up, rolling into the first quarter turn of the four-point. There was an explosively loud “CRACK.” The airplane, in a 90-degree bank to the right, tried to dive around the outside of the turn. The stabbing pain between my nether cheeks eased some, along with the airspeed, but my body was now six inches lower in the cockpit than at the start of the loop.
The sound I’d heard was just like when a 2X4 snaps, and I had visions of broken wing spars, failed empennage or shredded fabric, but this Cub didn’t have wood wings and a quick look around affirmed the wings and tail intact and the airplane flying normally in a power off glide. Checking controls, the rudder and ailerons worked smoothly. I added power, pulled back on the stick to get the nose up and discovered that I was sitting on top of the elevator control horn, forcing the nose down. Struggling to get my weight up and off the horn, I found that the elevator was working properly, but I wasn’t certain that I hadn’t broken something important on the airplane. I wasn’t certain, either, that the intrusive nature of the top of the horn hadn’t injured one of my important parts.
Gingerly, I moseyed back to the airport at about 65 mph, precariously wedged into the rear seat area such that I could still work the throttle, stick, rudder and heel brakes, keeping that elevator horn out of my behind. The landing was good, like they usually are when you’re inordinately scared, and I taxied back to the hangar to see just what and how badly I’d broken the Cub.
It turned out the damage was limited only to the rear seat sling, which had failed across its full top width along the seam sewn below the line of grommets used to lace the sling into the top seat frame crossbar. A call to Univair procured a replacement sling within a couple days and I resumed flying the Cub with a tad more respect for the airplane’s age and limitations.
Since I was bound and determined to fly it, the club decided new tires were in order, along with a new set of sparkplugs and wires. Now I had me a traveling airplane that could land at other airports without worrying too much about a flat tire. The old tires were down to showing cord when I started flying it. Somewhat surprising was that they hadn’t gotten much worse from my abuse, but I was hesitant to take others along for a ride on those bald tires. I figured that the extra weight in the front seat might make a blown tire on landing even more exciting. It may have been one of the few times in my flying career when I might have been accused of exercising superior judgment to avoid demonstrating superior skills.
With passengers along it was usually straight and level flight, though there were a few spins done with more adventurous riders, after explaining what we were going to do and how it would happen. Despite my low number of total hours, skydiving had given me a fair bit of hands-on flying experience with some talented pilots. I was often amazed at how little many higher experience pilots, and some instructors, actually knew about flying. My boss, Bill, was taking flight lessons and had done his first solo in a Piper Tomahawk. Spins were prohibited in the Tomahawk and Bill said his instructor wouldn’t do a full stall, or exceed 45 degrees of bank, and that only when doing steep turns. Bill wanted to see what a spin was like. The Cub and I were ready to accommodate his desire.
Bill got himself strapped into the front seat while I pointed out the various controls, the heel brakes, and briefed him on hand-propping to start. He muttered something about it not being right for an airplane to lack electrical stuff for starting and things like that. I tried to assure him that we could, indeed, safely fly without electrics and that radio waves had little effect on the plane’s aerodynamics. Soon we were five thousand feet above the ground and Bill had handled to airplane just fine since leaving the pattern, practicing a few turns while we climbed. I talked him through holding the nose up while reducing power and airspeed and described how the nose would drop suddenly and would spin if rudder was used to aggravate the stall. Bill was loathe to pull up into the nose-high attitude needed to really get the Cub to stall. At the first inclination of the nose starting to mush or drop, he’d add power and recover, just like he’d been taught to do. After several incipient stalls, I told him to pull the nose up into a steep climb and held the stick back until the nose started to drop. Then I told to him to push the right rudder pedal all the way down and the airplane rolled smartly over into a spin.
Bill’s first reaction was to let go of the controls and grab the support bars above the instrument panel. From the rear seat, I held the stick back and kept the rudder in while the world below spun around us. Along about the third turn of the spin, I got Bill to put his hands and feet back on the controls and the Cub popped right out of the spin when he neutralized the ailerons and rudder. Adding power, he recovered from the resulting dive, a big grin on his face and said, “Let’s do that again.”
An old friend who’d gotten his pilot’s license at the same time as me came through Salt Lake City on one of those perfect days for flying around in a Cub with the door and window open. We did a quick sight-seeing flight around the lake and mountains, flopped it through a few stalls and spins and headed back to the airport for some touch-n-goes. Jeff had been doing most of the flying already, but approaching the runway was his first try at landing a tailwheel. We’d both learned to fly in a trio of Cessna 150s, but Jeff quickly bought a 172, then stepped up to a 182, got some flight time in a Bellanca Viking and had bought into a partnership in a Bonanaza V-tail. Bigger and faster with more bells and whistles was where aviating was at for him.
Jeff marveled at the slow approach speed while I coaxed him around the pattern onto final where he rolled it onto the runway in a three point attitude like an old pro. We kept at it doing take offs and landings until the sun was gone from the western horizon. He quit flying a few years later, but still speaks of that day as one of the finest he ever spent flying.
That day and a hundred others like it spent cruising in the mountains, camping out under the wing on the salt flats, attending fly-ins, or just boring holes in the sky in that little yellow Cub are what echo in my head when I daydream about flying today.
01-20-2009, 09:34 AM
Welcome and thanks for sharing the photos and story.
During the winters I am in southern Idaho near the Nevada border
I have 2 PA-18's at the twin falls airport and if you can get up this way give me a call and we can go play with a cub in the back country.
Thanks for the invite. I'll take you up on that if I get to your neck of the woods.
01-20-2009, 03:42 PM
Check your PM messages
02-04-2009, 09:07 AM
So which plane did you enjoy flying the most? J3 or PA-18?
Geez ... that's a tough question. I spent a lot more time in the Supercub than the J-3, and 25 years later I miss them both.
I suppose that if i was going to buy an airplane it would probably be a Supercub, but if a nice little J-3 were to come along, I'd be hard-pressed to decline.
05-10-2011, 01:39 PM
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