obviously satisfied with his initial performance—and then we
headed for Yakima (and its concrete).
CUB 2: THE CARBON CUB SS
Now let’s talk about the Carbon Cub SS: 180 hp packed into a
1,320-pound package. It is a marvel of creative engineering. It has,
as we’ll explore, what I call “capability plus.” But airplanes seldom
just happen: they evolve. The Carbon Cub SS is no exception to
We hopped out of the Sport Cub, and I drank some water while
Randy Lervold, CubCrafters’ general manager who had been flying
with me and feeding me pattern numbers and such, tended to some
business. Then we preflighted, briefed the aircraft differences, and
climbed into the Carbon Cub. It still feels like a Cub, only the nose
sits a little higher given the 26-inch tundra tires. (If you’re going to
fly a bushplane, you have to at least look the part!) The engine start,
once again, is straightforward. Only, this time, there is a more
throaty idle, given the 180-hp engine on the nose.
Let’s talk about the engine: The data plate reads CC340. “CC” is
for CubCrafters, and “340” is for the cubic inches. With high-com-pression pistons and a few other tweaks, the engine is rated at 180
hp. Here are some CC340 innovations with the reason for them in
parentheses: electronic ignition (less weight), redesigned exhaust
(less weight), redesigned oil sump (less weight), 40-amp alternator
with shorter attach arm (less weight), and new carb air box (less
weight). I could go on, but you get the picture: The engine weighs
about 50 pounds less than other 180-hp powerplants.
The airframe is roughly 250 pounds lighter than a production
Super Cub because it has, get this, 50 percent fewer parts! But the
parts that remain are better than the parts that were replaced. How?
Thirty years of Cub experience and engineering. The end result? You
have not only a lighter aircraft but also a stronger one. Carbon Cub
flight and landing loads were tested to 5 .65 g’s. (The standard category requirement is 3. 8 g’s.) Then 8. 5 g’s was used for the ultimate
load test. ASTM standards for LSA allow load testing to be analyzed
by computer; CubCrafters does it with lead weights and hydraulic
pressure…the old-fashioned way.
Here’s some more innovation: carbon fiber (less weight) is both
strong and light. Where is it used? The cowling, air box, spinner,
interior panels and floorboards, pilot seat, wingtips, and extended
baggage compartment. I wrestled with my RV- 8 cowling many times
while fitting it, so I have “muscle memory” for how much it weighs.
Randy handed me a Carbon Cub cowling, and I automatically lifted it
because I was expecting it to be much heavier than it was.
So here is what you have: a classic airplane made lighter, stronger
and better and packaged as an LSA…and with a 180-hp engine. It’s
On takeoff, push the power up, tail comes up, pull the stick back
and wham you’re airborne. Just like that! How many feet? Don’t
know, didn’t count ’em. But not many. The point is, you have performance, and it’s up to you to learn it and use it as your flying dictates.
You can use maximum power for five minutes. That’ll give you
roughly a 2,000-fpm rate of climb, which puts you at 7,500 feet in
under five minutes. Reduce to cruise power and you get LSA cruise
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JONATHAN BLISS
THE MAN BEHIND THE PLANE
Most airplanes start with a designer, an idea, a whole lot of passion, and
perseverance. CubCrafters, Inc.’s story starts with Jim Richmond.
Jim was born in Anchorage and spent much of his youth in Alaska where
Cubs have long been the aircraft of choice. Alaskans like (and need) their
airplanes to be rugged, reliable, and utilitarian. Cubs are all of these things.
Jim’s father had a Cub. Jim remembers the day that it dawned on him, “Hey,
this flying thing is okay!” He had been herding range cattle on foot in tall sage.
For those of you unfamiliar, herding range cattle is a lot like herding cats. “They
went in all directions and you couldn’t see them in the sage,” Jim said. “So I got
in the Cub and, hey, I could see them and keep them gathered just enough to
get them going all in the same direction.” And that sealed Jim’s fate: His life was
going to be about airplanes.
As a young new airframe and powerplant mechanic, Jim went to work in
Yakima for a man who restored airplanes. Even as a 20-something-year-old, Jim
thought at the time, “If I was ever going to do this business by myself, I’d do it
on only one type airplane.” The type that was always rattling around in his head
and his heart? The type he herded the cows with, of course!
Jim located three “carcass airplanes” in Texas. He trucked them back to
Yakima. Before he could unload them, he sold one of them right off the truck.
CubCrafters was in business. He laughed as he explained, “Here I’d just started
this business and a couple weeks later I was the ‘expert,’ getting calls from
all over about Cubs.” That was in 1980. It is now 30 years later and Jim is still
building and restoring Cubs, and he is the expert about Cubs.
I asked Jim what made him think he could do it; what made him think it
He shook his head, laughed, and said, “That’s a good question. I don’t
know. But it’s worked out.”
Now you know something of the man. It will help you understand the
quality of his product; it will help you appreciate the engineering knowledge that
went into producing the Sport Cub and Carbon Cub, and it gives you a window
into the people part of airplane manufacturing.