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The Super Cub as a Bush Plane

When it comes to small bush planes (i.e., not Beavers or Twin Otters) I think its safe to say that the Piper PA-18 Super Cub is one of the most popular. The Super Cub as a bush plane is a ton of fun. A quick survey of YouTube will show why: there are guys who will land Super Cubs in about 18′, and take off just as fast. That obviously takes skill and practice, but there is no question that Super Cubs will get you, a buddy and some gear into some very tight landing areas.
Super Cub as bush plane

The Super Cub is a descendent of the J-3 Cub, but with a stronger airframe and bigger motor. It also has flaps (lots of the early planes, like T-Crates, Cubs and Fleet Canucks, don’t have flaps). You can see some Cub heritage when you look at it, but it’s a bit bigger, and the cylinder heads don’t stick out of the cowl. Where Cubs came with motors as small as 40 hp, Super Cubs have motors ranging from 90 hp to 180 hp.

J-3 on floats

J-3 Cub

Super Cub as bush plane

Super Cub – See the dif?

Super Cubs land short, and can be fitted with skis, floats or big fat tires. Over the years there have been many modifications made for them. They can be fitted with belly pods to carry more gear, and the wings can be modified with leading edge slots and STOL wingtips.
Super Cub as bush plane

Piper stopped making Super Cubs in 1991, but you can still get a brand new Super Cub from Cub Crafters of Yakima, Washington. There are also lots of Super Cub kits available. There is also a healthy after market for Super Cubs, as well as a vibrant internet community, Supercub.org. If you check out Super Cubs on the web you will find that there is a wide range of models/types available as a result of all the after market modifications that have been developed over the years, and all of them are for bush flying.

Super Cub as bush plane

The airframe is welded steel tube with aluminum spars and wing ribs. It’s a fabric covered plane, which can be handy in a couple ways. Because it has a steel tube frame it can be more easily welded in the field than a typical aluminum airframe like you’d find on a Cessna, but the best story about fixing the fabric cover has to be the duct tape repair of the Grizzly ravaged Super Cub.
Super Cub as bush plane
Super Cub as bush plane
Super Cub as bush plane
Super Cub as bush plane

Super Cub Specs

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 1 passenger
  • Length: 22 ft 7 in
  • Wingspan: 35 ft 2½ in
  • Wing area: 178.5 sq ft
  • Empty weight: 930 lb (422 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 1,750 lb (794 kg)
  • Powerplant: Lycoming O-320 150 hp (lots of variants)
  • VNE: 132 knots (246 km/h, 153 mph)
  • Maximum speed: 113 knots (208 km/h, 130 mph) at sea level
  • Cruise speed: 100 kts (185 km/h, 115 mph) (75% power)
  • Stall speed:(69 km/h, 43 mph) flaps down (can be less)
  • Range:399 nm(735 km, 460 mi)
  • Service ceiling:19,000 ft (5,595 m)

Super cub as bush plane

My name is Rob Chipman and I’m a realtor and pilot based in Vancouver, BC. I AM NOT A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR AND I AM NOT OFFERING FLIGHT INSTRUCTION! I am sharing my study notes and other things I’ve learned while getting my education as a pilot. You’re welcome to make use of this information, but do not treat it as expert advice.

I really enjoy flying, real estate and the Chilcotin.  My company is Coronet Realty Ltd., located at 3582 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V5K 2A7. I have a C-150L that I own with two other pilots, based out of Pitt Meadows. Do not hesitate to contact me by email if I can help you do anything, especially if its likely to be interesting or concerns selling remote property in British Columbia.

2 Responses to “The Super Cub as a Bush Plane”

  1. Ken Farr says:


    Re. j3 Cub image … That’s my cub. C-FDGU.

    Coming up on 70 years old.


  2. Rob says:

    How do you like flying it? I think they’d be fun, but how practical is it for getting into any backcountry? Can you take yourself and some gear? Can you take another person and some gear? When I say “gear” I want to say that I often backpack into the mountains, so I can travel light.

    I read George Erikson’s book and was very impressed by his adventure, but never knew how much gear he took.

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