|As is customary I waited for a perfect day to bring the Cub on her maiden flight. That perfect day came or so I had thought and packed up the Cub and off to the field I went. Once I arrived at the field it was a bit breezier than I like to fly in let alone a first flight. Also from what I have been told a Cub is not the best aircraft to fly in heavy breeze conditions. So normally I would abort but I was anxious to fly the Cub and I figured "how bad could it be?"
So the decision was made to forge ahead. I did a last minute check of all control surfaces, range check and double checked the CG. We fired up the Saito 80 four stroke and taxied out away from the pits area. I applied full power and was mindful of ground looping or some of the other things to watch for with tail draggers and Cubs specifically. The J3 lifted off nicely and banked a little bit to the right and continued to climb out. After a little bit of altitude was attained on the climb the J3 started banking left with the wind pushing it around. I was trying to trim it out but in the windy conditions it was difficult. I had noticed the controls were set too sensitive by me so I switched to low rates but it was still very touchy. I usually set up more throw than necessary and dial it down with the computer radio. This time I couldn't dial down enough in the air to tone it down to fly it comfortably. This was my fault for setting the throws to the extreme.
I handed the sticks to Chris, one of the flyers at my field, and had him test it out as he had flown a Cub before plus I wanted to get a few photos of it in the air. He flew it around for the photos and finished with a nice landing but also felt it was too windy and the throws were too aggressive. So I waited for the wind to break that day but no cooperation from mother nature came so we packed up and went home.
J3 Cub on it's first flight
Another shot of the Cub as it goes by on it's maiden flight
Again I waited for the weather to break and the perfect day did come. Virtually zero wind and comfortable temperatures. I packed up and headed to the field. I quickly fired up the Saito again and rolled out quickly. With the controls now mechanically & electronically reduced I could feel it was going to be a bit tamer this time around. The Cub took off and climbed out with authority at 3/4 throttle. I trimmed her out and did a few slow scale flybys with the 4 stroke adding to the scale look and sound. A very beautiful sight.
It was time to test some basic aerobatics and stall characteristics. Slowing down the Cub and holding the nose up to stall the aircraft showed no bad tendencies. A wing tip drops and you add some power or pick up speed to recover. Loops required a bit of aileron to keep the wings level towards the top but were easy to perform. Rolls are predictable and require some down elevator while inverted through the maneuver. Inverted flight only required a bit of down on the elevator. Stall turns were simple and come off as expected.
I did make it a point, as my fellow flyers recommended, to perform turns by coordinating rudder and aileron as it is done in full scale airplanes. This helped quite a bit to push the Cub through a turn I found.
Landings are very simple as the Cub slows down so nicely before hitting a stall speed. I just lined it up down the runway and let her settle in while providing only minor corrections to keep the landing approach straight. She landed beautifully and I brought her back in to fuel her up for a few more flights.
On my next flight I stayed up a little too long and the motor ran out of fuel so I was about to test a dead stick landing on my 3rd flight. Ironically a fellow at my field was also flying his Cub and called out dead stick too exactly when mine was also coming down. So we had two Cubs both coming in sans motor running. This plane with it's slow speed and ability to float along was a breeze to land without the motor running. Same procedure as the previous flight with the only difference being I had one shot to get it right. The Cub made it easy to get it right and a graceful landing was made.
One thing I will change but have not yet as of the time I'm writing this review is the battery location. I installed it behind the servos and feel the plane may be a slight bit tail heavy so I plan to move it right behind or under the fuel tank. It was a 2700Nimh battery pack so a bit of weight was added to the aft CG area by placing it there. Why such a huge pack? I had it on hand and knew the Cub could handle the few extra ounces.
I took another flight with the Cub and it was lots of fun to fly. I'm more accustomed to flying Extra's and Cap's so the drastic change of pace to the J3 was very interesting for me. I'm looking forward to many more flights with the J3 in the future.