Piper PA-18 Super Cub Versus the World: Comparison Specs

The Super Cub was a popular inspiration for aircraft both certified and kit-built. Check out these modern look-alikes and how they compare to the classic.

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Piper PA-18 Super Cub Typical Used Price: $60K-$120K Certification Category: Part 23 Typical Seating: 2, tandem Empty Weight: 938 pounds Max Weight: 1,750 pounds Useful Load: 767 pounds Full Fuel Payload: 551 pounds Takeoff Ground Roll: 200 feet Landing Ground Roll: 350 feet Minimum Speed: 43 mph The Piper Super Cub hasn't been built in any numbers since the early 1980s, but because of its utility and rugged construction, it remains a valuable commodity for forays into the outback; even after they're wrecked, PA-18s are almost always rebuilt to fly again. Many owners have put a dozen or more mods on their Super Cubs, including engine upgrades, new avionics panels, float installations and tundra tire conversions. Specs shown are for a PA-18-150, the most produced Super Cub.
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Backcountry Super Cub Project Cost: $105,000 Certification Category: Experimental Typical Seating: 2, tandem Empty Weight: 1,230 pounds Max Weight: 2,200 pounds Useful Load: 970 pounds Full Fuel Payload: 682 pounds Takeoff Ground Roll: 400 feet Landing Ground Roll: 220 feet Minimum Speed: 30 mph Looking to build a Super Cub clone? Consider the Backcountry Super Cub; kits start at under $60,000, with a bare-bones completed plane with a used Lycoming 180 hp O-360 possible around $100,000. This clone is a remarkable slow-speed performer, and with big tires, it can land just about anywhere. Takeoff distance is usually the limiting factor. Backcountry estimates a 1,200-hour build time, so factor that in carefully.
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American Champion Scout Typical Price: $234,900 Certification Category: Part 23 Typical Seating: 2, tandem Empty Weight: 1,400 pounds Max Weight: 2,150 pounds Useful Load: 940 pounds Full Fuel Payload: 330 pounds* Takeoff Ground Roll: 417 feet Landing Ground Roll: 423 feet Minimum Speed: 46 mph Not a Super Cub clone at all, the 180 hp Lycoming ­O-360-­powered Scout is a distant offspring of the iconic tube-and-rag Aeronca 7AC Champ. Don't mistake it for its full-aero Decathlon stablemate; the Scout is a normal category plane. It has a decent cruise speed, 130 mph, and great range thanks to a 72-gallon fuel capacity. Few missions are flown with full tanks; with partial fuel, the Scout hauls an impressive load, one not reflected in its full-fuel payload number.*
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Glasair Sportsman Base Project Cost: $189,950 Certification Category: Experimental Typical Seating: 2+2 Empty Weight: 1,350 pounds Max Weight: 2,350 pounds Useful Load: 1,000 pounds Full Fuel Payload: 700 pounds Takeoff Ground Roll: N/A Landing Ground Roll: N/A Minimum Speed: 46 mph Like any Experimental plane, you'll need to build the ­Sportsman yourself, though Glasair, with its "Two Weeks to Taxi" program, makes that process easier. The Sportsman has merely good (by Super standards) runway performance, but it's fast, with a cruising speed of around 165 mph, without big tires, that is, behind the Lycoming XO-360. The Sportsman is convertible, from taildragger to floats or tricycle gear — we'll keep the nose-gear thing a secret for you.
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Maule MX-7 180B Typical Price: $225,000 Certification Category: Part 23 Typical Seating: 4 Empty Weight: 1,495 pounds Max Weight: 2,500 pounds Useful Load: 1,005 pounds Full Fuel Payload: 495 pounds Takeoff Ground Roll: 300 feet Landing Ground Roll: 700 feet Minimum Speed: 41 mph The Maule MX-7 180B is a classic-construction welded frame and fabric taildragger. At nearly 140 mph the MX-7 with the 180 hp Lycoming (most come with the 235 hp Lyc, however) is faster than most of the competition. It's also got the best cargo door, a veritable elk-size portal. You can get the MX-7 with spring steel gear or oleo struts. As a taildragger with big wheels, the airplane is popular in the backcountry.
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Explore more taildragger options in the full feature "Clash of Cubs: Three Modern Takes on Classic." (Photo by Ryan Nathanson)