open. There’s just something about seeing that wheel spin as you
fly low and slow over the countryside. It’s how flying was meant
to be. Turns out I have a kindred soul in Bob Milkie, the man who
restored this particular Cub.
“After my first hour in a Cub I knew I had to find myself one,” Bob
said, which is how he came to buy N31085, a 1940 J-3L that was
stored a barn in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He flew it off the farm-
er’s field to Burlington, Wisconsin, where he ripped it apart and
brought the pieces to his home in Racine. “I sandblasted the
frame and tore everything out of it,” he said. “I bought just about
everything new, and if I couldn’t buy it new, we remade it.”
As far as Bob is concerned, this little yellow airplane saved
his life. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis shortly after begin-
ning the airplane’s restoration, he thought his flying days were
done. “I couldn’t walk, and I went blind. I thought that was it,”
he said. “I got my eyesight back pretty quick, and I was able to
walk again within six or eight months.” With the encouragement
of his family and friends, he got back to work on the plane, mov-
ing the project to a hangar near his cabin in Crivitz, Wisconsin.
“It took me seven years to finish that airplane. The restoration
really kept me going.”
After some rough starts finding help with his project, Bob
connected with Clifford Hatz, son of Hatz biplane designer John
Hatz. “Clifford came and spent a winter sleeping in my hangar
[in Crivitz] helping me restore that airplane,” Bob said.
Especially clear in his memory is the day he walked into the
hangar to find Clifford had stuck a picture of a man and yellow
Cub on the bulletin board. Clifford pointed out it was his dad
next to the Cub he once restored. “Look at that N number,” he
told Bob. It was N31085—Bob’s airplane that John had restored
some 30 years earlier.
The craftsmanship bringing it all together is
impeccable, and the plane flies like a dream.