Book Cover


Piper J-3 Cub Coupe

Owned and flown by Otis Vanderford (6003) from 1941 to 1947

First built in 1938, the Piper J-3 earned its fame as a trainer. So successful was it that the name "Cub' soon came to be a generic term for all light airplanes and it remains one of the most recognized designs in aviation.

In 1938 Piper introduced the improved J-3 Cub. Powered by 40-hp Continental, Lycoming, or Franklin engines, the J-3 sold for $1,300. Engine horsepower was soon raised to fifty and reached sixty-five by 1940. Piper also standardized a color scheme to bright yellow with black trim.

The organization of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) immediately before the entry of the United States into World War II spurred sales of the J-3. In 1940, 3,016 Cubs were built and at the wartime peak a new J-3 emerged from the factory every twenty minutes. Seventy-five percent of all pilots in the CPTP were trained on Cubs, many going on to more advanced training in the military.

Cubs were also flown during the war as observation, liaison, and ambulance airplanes. Known variously as the L-4, 0-59, and NE-1, they rendered valuable service and were nicknamed "Grasshoppers." By 1947, when production ended, 14,125 Piper Cubs had been built. The J-3 is now finding an ever-increasing popularity among antique airplane owners, and brand new Cubs are being constructed by homebuilders. Both an excellent trainer and a delightful sport plane, it lends itself to lazy summer afternoons. The Cub might best be summed up by the words "simple" "economical" and above all, "slow."

Wingspan - 35 ft 2.5 in
Length - 22 ft 4.5 in
Height - 6 ft 8 in
Weight - 680 lbs

Piper J-5 Cub Cruiser

Owned and flown by Otis Vanderford (6003) from 1947 to 1949

Let's not kid ourselves: The J-5 IS a J-3. It's a Cub with fat hips where the rear seat was widened out. It was advertised as being a three-seater, but pilots of the Cruiser have said it would be more accurately described as a two-and-a-half-seater, because only a small child would feel comfortable in the third seat. The wings and tail are identical. However the evolutionary changes in the fuselage set a re-design effort in motion that was to give birth to an entire string of multi-passenger airplanes.

An important change in the fuselage and general layout was moving the pilot up front and moving the front seat away from the pedals. Any who have flown a J-3 in the front remember that folded-like-a-pocket-knife seating position and the chest-high control stick. The Piper engineering crew made an effort to civilize the front seat by giving it more leg room. In addition, when widening the back seat and tapering the fuselage to the firewall, they couldn't help but give the front seat lots of shoulder room. In fact, the front seat clearance may be the widest of any aircraft of its type, before or since.

The original J-5A came out in January of 1940 being pulled along by a 75 hp Continental. A year later it was replaced by the J-5B which used the 75 hp Lycoming 0-145, an engine which has never had a reputation for lots of power.

With the J-5C Cub Cruiser, Piper had stepped into the serious cross country market. Unfortunately, the war shut down Piper's civilian aircraft production after cranking-out only 35 J-5Cs. After the war, the J-5C was re-certified to 1,750 pounds gross weight (Normal Category) and the 1020 mild steel in the fuselage tubing replaced with chrome-moly. The new airplane was the PA-12 Super Cruiser. It was produced for two years, 1946-'47 and over 3,700 were built. Approximately 1,400 J-5s were built.

Stinson "Station Wagon"

Owned and flown by Otis Vanderford (6003) from 1949 to 1953

In the late 1940's, Stinson Aircraft was producing what was then touted as "The World's Most Popular Four Place Airplane". Two models were offered in the 108 series, the "Voyager" and the "Flying Station Wagon". The main differences being that the Station Wagon version has a beefed up floor in the rear passenger area, the rear seats could be quickly removed for carrying up to 640 pounds of cargo, and the rear seat sidewalls were lined with mahogany plywood. Stinson airplanes are known to be very stable and have excellent flight characteristics. Both models have fixed wing slots that are built into the wing. These are in the leading edge forward of the ailerons, and enhance control at slow speeds. The Stinson 108 is reluctant to stall, and the slots in the wings help to keep the ailerons effective which makes recovery easy and graceful.

The performance numbers for a stock Stinson 108-3 with a Franklin 165 engine are as follows:
Take off: ground roll 980 ft.
Rate of climb: 600 feet per minute
Cruise speed at 75% power: 109 kts.

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