Sport Cubs and WingNuts

Deland’s (DED) flight line was full of airplanes
belonging to the WingNut ladies.

Wednesday morning was one of those mornings I was "living the life." At 0800 John Moreland, the southeast rep for SWT Aviation, a certified CubCrafters sales center, picked me up at Orlando-Apopka in a Sport Cub for a leisurely flight over to Deland and back so I could get a feel for the airplane. I first met John only a couple of months ago when CC's general manager Randy Lervold took me for a demo ride in the CarbonCub out of South Lakeland Airport during Sun 'n Fun. John piloted the video ship (a Top Cub on floats) that joined us for part of our flight (check out the resulting video). After the flight and before bidding adieu, I rather shamelessly suggested to John that since he lives about an hour north of me that he invite me to go flying with him sometime when he has access to a one of the CubCrafters' airplanes. He remembered my request. His offer came via e-mail last week informing me he had access to a Sport Cub for a couple of weeks and asked if would I like to go flying with him. … Well, ya-ah!! My enthusiasm didn't surprise him, I'm sure, based on how much fun he knew I had in the CarbonCub — and my natural preference for "fun" flying in the light sports.

So off we went. My takeoff wasn’t as smooth as the ones I remembered doing in the CarbonCub … I was dancing a bit too much on the rudder pedals and we were on asphalt this time so John had to coach me through it.

During cruise flight, the Sport Cub felt solid and it was easy to maintain pitch and altitude without a lot of inputs. Sure, its 100 hp Continental has 80 fewer horses than it’s beefier LSA cousin’s CC340, naturally resulting in some performance differences that come with a lesser horsepower (lower climb rate of 790 fpm versus 2100 fpm, and longer takeoff distances), but if my memory was serving me well that morning in comparing the two in general flight characteristics, it basically felt the same as the CarbonCub and was a ball to fly. And, though the panel can be upgraded with glass, I found this airplane’s standard instrument panel and its layout easy to “readapt” to after having flown with glass the last year.

Arriving into the downwind for Deland’s Runway 23, I didn’t feel confident enough after the “happy” feet I had on takeoff to give landing a try so I turned the controls over to John. Another day, perhaps. We were third in line and had a Bonanza behind us, so John made quick work of getting us down and off the runway, something easy enough to do with the Sport Cub’s short landing performance. As we taxied to a parking spot, we spotted a pink RV-12 (how could we miss it?) on the flight line and several ladies standing nearby. John recognized the RV-12 owner, Judie Betz, and gave her a wave out the opened left window when she turned to watch us taxi by. The ladies are WingNuts … let me explain. WingNuts is a group of women pilots based out of Leeward Air Ranch in Ocala, Florida, who get together regularly to fly. This particular morning, five flew into Deland (via 2 Cessna 172s, a 182, a Piper Warrior and, of course, the RV-12) to meet for breakfast. What an unexpected treat it was to see so many women pilots at one time! They greeted us enthusiastically and we all headed into Airport Restaurant and Gin Mill for our morning eats.

Before heading home, we filled the two 12-gallon (usable) wing tanks with 100LL. With a 5-gph fuel burn, John would now have more than enough for several local flights before it would be time to fill up again.

Our flight home was mostly uneventful but for some bumps here and there thanks to the summer day heating up. The Cub took it all in stride and I found it easy to maintain altitude. And outfitted with a Garmin 496 that had XM Weather, we could keep close tabs on the rain showers beginning to develop in the distance. We arrived at Orlando-Apopka just in time for John to drop me off and say our goodbyes (of course, not without me reminding him to think of me again the next time he gets a CC Cub to fly!) and for him to get back to his homebase at Grass Roots before the rain settled in for the remainder of the afternoon.

Afterwards, while driving to the office, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t the only one “living the life” that day. And that was good to know.


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