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Thread: My Date with the XCub

  1. #1
    SJ's Avatar
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    Cool My Date with the XCub

    A couple of weeks ago, Laura and I traveled to Yakima, Washington to tour CubCrafters and to get a closer look at their new flagship - the XCub. While a few folks knew what they were up to, they really did a great job of keeping development under wraps and many of us were surprised when this new certified aircraft was announced on June 6 of this year.

    A lot has changed since the last time I was at CubCrafters over ten years ago. CubCrafters Marketing Manager John Whitish took us on a grand tour of the manufacturing operations which are located in buildings all around the Yakima airport. Nearly all the components of their aircraft are built right there and then brought together in the main facility for the build. One hundred-fifty employees make up the team and it is a very busy place.

    There are a lot of articles and industry quotes you can read online about the XCub. You can find the stats and pricing on the CubCrafters website. My purpose in writing is to give you my personal impression of this plane. We all come at things from different angles, and my angle is “Would this plane fit my flying lifestyle?”.

    It is no surprise that from the moment I heard about this plane I was very excited about it. I have always felt that the margin between the cruise performance of the Aviat Husky and the Piper Super Cub could be narrowed significantly without compromising the friendly STOL capabilities of the PA18. The XCub achieves this - and more. When you look closely at this plane you can see the attention to detail that has been focused on reducing drag - no external cables, strut fairings, spring gear, etc.

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    (SJ & Randy Lervold, after a fun flight)

    Anybody who has experience in a Super Cub or a Carbon Cub could be up to speed in this plane in no time. There are a few things to adjust to including the flap lever overhead - something that is growing on me after having flown a number of Carbon Cubs, Sport Cubs, and now the XCub. It’s great for keeping the eyes forward.

    Most of the small planes we fly have cowlings that are relatively the same angle as the wing and we establish our “sight picture” for flying from that. This plane, like a Cessna 170, has a cowling which is angled down so my first adjustment after takeoff was to look out at the wings and adjust my forward sight picture. This sloping cowl gives you a better view when in cruise, but it is especially helpful on approach. Please note; this is not a “dramatic” slope, but it is noticeable if you are a guy like me who does not look much at the panel except to confirm what I already know.

    This lead next to getting accustomed to the electric trim (still a jackscrew system) located on top of the stick. Yes, I did reach with my left hand MULTIPLE times feeling for the familiar trim crank, but within a few minutes this too was quite comfortable - and more importantly, like the PA-18, pretty much set it (for cruise) and forget it - at least for the operations we were doing.

    Laura and I went to lunch with John Whitish, Randy Lervold, and Jim Richmond in order to give the wind and temperature time to get a little more peppy before Randy and I went out to fly. When you first climb in this plane you think, “spacious Carbon Cub” - and it is very comfortable. What surprised me was how solid this plane felt in the lumpy conditions compared to the Carbon Cub and how affably it handled them. It’s no big heavy Cessna that plows through the turbulence, but it is more so than I expected.

    I am going to disappoint some of you right now. You are all wanting to know how fast did it go? To be frank, I was having such a good time flying it that I did not pay much attention. The plane I flew was equipped with spring gear and 26” Goodyears. When I did look down at the panel in cruise a few times (remember - pretty lumpy conditions) I saw between 120mph - 130mph indicated - I don’t have the CAS numbers or the TAS numbers, but it is WAY faster than my Super Cub.

    We flew to a small grass strip on the other side of the Union Gap (of Gary Puckett fame for those old enough to remember) where the orchards were being removed to plant Washington’s newest cash crop, Weed. In Kansas City, for any given one hour time period, the wind is generally from close to the same direction, but varies widely in velocity - gusts, etc. The winds at Buena that day were probably ten or twelve knots, but varying in direction about ninety degrees from a direct crosswind, to a slight left crosswind. In those conditions, in a brand new airplane that I don’t own, with the President of the company sitting in back, I did not explore the maximum landing performance of the XCub by any measure. However, just like with the enroute turbulence, it handled these conditions with great aplomb and any cub driver comfortable in crosswinds would have no trouble with it.

    Now, you have to remember it is a slippery airplane compared to what we are accustomed to. In my Super Cub I can go full power to the runway threshold, pull the power, put on all the flaps, and still touch down in the first hundred feet of the runway. The XCub requires a little more planning - but not much more. I did have to do some slipppin’ on my first approach (fully approved with full flaps), and after that remembered to think ahead a bit more than the first time. You want to go fast? This is the trade off. You can still slow this plane way way down - which I did with some airwork, even at low speeds - it's super solid.

    Speaking of flying, the internal rod system (as opposed to our external cable system) for moving the ailerons is incredibly smooth. This plane has super light aileron and elevator forces making it a real fun plane to fly. The seats are incredibly comfortable in both the front and back and I think you could sit in them for as long as the fuel lasted.

    Takeoffs are plenty short and Super Cub standard. The “lazy man's short field takeoff technique” (full flaps, full power, wait for it to lift off) worked great with two notches of flaps, and the “yankeroff” technique also works well. Because of the difference in cowling angle my natural response was to climb too steeply - which it does just fine. Lowering the nose a little gave an impressive climb rate with a good view.

    In the category of “other cool stuff I noticed” the prop control for the constant speed prop is right in front of the throttle (the throttle is “where it should be” in the window as usual). It takes a minute to figure out extending your finger up to adjust it, but it requires little movement and again, anybody would adapt to it quickly.

    Swing up windows on both sides open fully and the plane can be flown like this up to a certain speed. The new latching system of the windows is much improved over the PA-18 as well.

    N500XC was equipped with an EI CGR-30P engine monitor, some steam gauges, and a Garmin 796 in the middle. Everything you would need. I was surprised not to see a full glass panel. Some people don’t like glass panels but folks, this is the way of the future. I’m sure the glass panel version is around the corner. Everything in this plane was standard and easy to read.

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    (Photo: CubCrafters Website)

    So does this plane fit my “Flying Lifestyle” - it sure does. Most of you know we have a PA-18 and a C-180. The C-180 is the “long haul get there fast” airplane, but the XCub could blur those lines really easily. There are so many times when we have taken the 180 because we just did not have the extra time for travel where we really wished upon arriving we had the Super Cub. Having said that even with its ample baggage area, the XCub is not a C-180; it is not as fast, can’t hold four people (or the weight equivalent in gear) and is not as of yet IFR or auto-pilot certified. Could I see in a few years selling two planes to buy one and that one being an XCub? Certainly. Is this the coolest new plane I’ve seen in decades? Absolutely.

    You can read all about the specs, see great pictures, etc, at xcub.com
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------

  2. #2
    aktango58's Avatar
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    A couple of unanswered questions here SJ:

    1) How many days after flying did your smile last?
    2) Did Laura put a deposit down on one?
    3) How much for the 180, I am in the market
    4) How was taxiing on the spring gear in gusty winds? Did it wobble like the 180 on light gear?
    5) When is the SC.org X-cub available to members


    Great review, just wish you had let all of us know it was testing day in Yakima, maybe we could have joined in and caused Randy to have a heart attach with our two left foot landings!!!!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  3. #3

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    Wish I could get my Super D to go as fast as these things. I have the aluminum gear legs - much less likely to wobble in the wind. And 180 C/S.

  4. #4
    SJ's Avatar
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    1) How many days after flying did your smile last? Slightly longer than usual
    2) Did Laura put a deposit down on one? HA!
    3) How much for the 180, I am in the market Not in the near future
    4) How was taxiing on the spring gear in gusty winds? Did it wobble like the 180 on light gear? Solid as a rock, I expected wobble, but felt none.
    5) When is the SC.org X-cub available to members They did not mention the signature version yet, but I am sure they are working on it. Probably just keeping that under wraps.
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------

  5. #5
    PerryB's Avatar
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    It's cool, no doubt. Unfortunately the bar has now been raised from $200K to $300K.
    After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF !

  6. #6
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJ View Post
    1) How many days after flying did your smile last? Slightly longer than usual
    2) Did Laura put a deposit down on one? HA!
    3) How much for the 180, I am in the market Not in the near future
    4) How was taxiing on the spring gear in gusty winds? Did it wobble like the 180 on light gear? Solid as a rock, I expected wobble, but felt none.
    5) When is the SC.org X-cub available to members They did not mention the signature version yet, but I am sure they are working on it. Probably just keeping that under wraps.
    Let me rephrase that: Were you aware Laura put a deposit on an X-cub for herself?

    Does that change the status of the 180?

    Thank you for the intel. Not in my price range, but glad to hear improvements are being sought and achieved.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

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