Piper Cub Followers

The simple design, appealing shape and fun flying characteristics of the Piper Cub put a glint in the eye of most pilots. Countless aviators trained and made their first solo flights in this beloved bird. But, being introduced in the 1930s, it's no wonder the original Cub design could benefit from some improving modifications. Piper went through several iterations of the design, and a few companies have made a business of producing modern versions of C.G. Taylor's ingenious little airplane.

Piper Cub Coupe
Introduced in 1939, the Piper J-4 Cub Coupe featured a door on each side of a wider fuselage that was able to accommodate a side-by-side seating arrangement. Despite an upgrade to Continental's 75-horsepower engine in later versions, the Coupe's cruise speed didn't increase much over the J-3 Cubs'.

Piper Cub Special
To ensure that the new Cub Special really stuck out from earlier Cubs, Piper strayed from the J designators and called it a PA-11. The Cub Special was introduced in 1947 with a full-cover cowl and a two-tone paint job. The tandem seats were moved slightly aft, and the front seat was raised to enable solo flight from the front or rear. The fuel tank was relocated from inside the engine cowl to the left wing root.

Piper Super Cub
With the FAA designator PA-18, the Super Cub replaced the Cub Special in late 1949. The original model had no flaps, but they were added in 1950. Piper started offering it with a 90 hp Continental or 115 hp Lycoming engine, but the most successful one was the 150 or 160 hp Lycoming O-320. Dual wing tanks gave a total fuel capacity of 36 gallons. Piper built more than 10,000 until production ended in 1994.

Aviat Husky
Frank Christensen loved the Super Cub so much that he wanted to take over the design during Piper's production pause in the 1980s. When his attempt to purchase the Super Cub failed, Christensen decided to engineer his own "huskier" version of the airplane. His rag-and-tube Husky was certified in 1987. With engine selections ranging from 160 to 200 horsepower, the Husky does well in the backcountry.

When Jim Richmond opened the doors to CubCrafters in 1980, the purpose of his business was to modify existing Super Cubs. But after Piper finally ceased its Cub production, the company evolved to produce new airplanes. Today, Cub­Crafters offers two LSA versions of the Cub and a more robust, certified "Top Cub" with a gross weight of 2,300 pounds and a 180 hp engine.

American Legend Cub
As the latest Cub-like airplane producer, with fewer than 10 years in production, American Legend produces three LSA versions of the Cub using the same metal fuselage design, which has dual doors. The airplane has the added benefit of ­having been designed using SolidWorks 3-D software, something C.G. Taylor did not have the luxury of when he spawned the original design in the 1930s.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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