Not only has my taste in aircraft altered over the years, so too have my expectations from a Sunday morning flying session. Just lately I find the prospect of guiding a scale model around the circuit far more acceptable that ever before, and whilst I still thoroughly enjoy the challenge of brushing up my scruffy aerobatic routine, there are times when I derive just as much pleasure from emulating a convincing scale flight. Thinking this through whilst surveying the airframes propped against the wall of my workshop, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m turning into a bit of a scale enthusiast… in the full ARTF sense of the term, you understand! Sure enough, where a favourite pattern ship once stood, a Tiger Moth now resides. My obscure collection of sport hacks have mysteriously morphed into two or three warbirds, and I haven’t a sport helicopter to my name either. Actually, the most agile airframe I possess is my delightful World Models Midget Mustang. It’s no wonder I’m a terrible 3D pilot, I haven’t a single aeroplane that’ll punch its weight in the vertical, let alone hold a decent knife-edge. Oh well, at least I can pack my Hangar 9 Cub and head off to practise my circuits and bumps when the fancy takes me!
So, what’s she like to fly? Well, in short, I guess you could say ‘predictable’, although you’ll doubtless be wanting more for your money than that! Trainer-like in appearance it’s very easy to look at a Cub and convince yourself that the flying characteristics will follow suit. However, as experienced pilots will confirm, Cubs can be anything but trainer-like in flight, in fact, rather than offering limited opportunities for pilot intervention, a Cub can keep you very busy. To my mind this is a good thing and I’m pleased to say that Hangar 9s J-3 displays many of the peculiarities you’d expect from a model of Piper’s perky little lightweight. Let me give you the benefit of my notes on the subject.
Ground handling. As you’d expect full up elevator is needed to keep the tail down when taxiing, although the large wheels help her move easily over grass, even when it’s relatively long. Rudder authority through the steerable tail wheel is very positive, and on shorter grass taxiing the model out to the runway is perfectly feasible without fear of her nosing over. Jumping ahead a little, I should add that it’s always nice to taxi back when you’ve landed slightly further down the strip than anticipated, and with the Hangar 9 Cub, you can.
Take-off. With the engine ticking over, whilst still holding in up elevator, check the controls one more time. As with all aircraft of this ilk, cross-wind take-offs are undesirable so you’ll need to have her facing directly into wind. My O.S. 70FL provides plenty of power to get the Cub airborne so I rarely use more than half of it. With this, the whole effect is prettier and as you ease the elevator back to centre, the tail will lift and she’ll roll on the main wheels before breaking free. With the increase of power from tick-over, you’ll also notice a tendency for the aircraft to pull left and this will need to be corrected with a gentle application of rudder. Rudder, incidentally, is quite a powerful control so go easy to avoid zigzagging down the runway in a wholly undignified manner.
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Climb-out. As soon as those main wheels leave the ground you’ll be into aileron territory, although it’s certainly not the last time you’ll be needing the rudder. If you’re still nicely into wind she’ll climb swiftly and depending on your engine size and throttle position you may find that you need to ease off the power to arrest the rate of ascent.
Turning. With this particular Cub (much like others, I suspect) you can initiate a turn using either aileron, rudder or a combination of both. I favour a combination of both although the degree to which rudder is required varies depending on the prevailing wind conditions. At the end of the day we’re looking to lift the tail in an attempt to stop it dragging through the manoeuvre and looking untidy. Electronic mixing of rudder with aileron is one way to achieve this although, as I mentioned last month, I’m a great believer in keeping the two separate and feeding in what’s required at the time. Either will work, although I have found myself crossing the controls at certain times, i.e. holding the turn with rudder while backing off the aileron to flatten it out a little. For my part the challenge of flying her with independent controls adds to the experience but you really mustn’t get hung up about it. She’ll turn perfectly well on aileron alone, although she may not ‘present’ quite so well.
Cruising. I rarely use more than half throttle in the cruise, in fact she’ll fly on less than a third, and with reasonably good authority. Throttle back to tick-over, let her slow to a walking pace whilst gently feeding in elevator and it’s possible to provoke a stall, whereupon the left wing will drop quite sharply. You’d have to be treating the model like a trainer for this to happen unexpectedly, but it is worth bearing in mind during those windless landings when she’ll want to float on, and on, and on…
Landing. Another reason why the Cub is so rewarding to fly is the fact that you have to keep flying her until the wheels stop rolling. Turning onto finals, I frequently find myself throttling back to tick-over in an attempt to prolong ‘the coming of the threshold’ which in relation to the model’s height often arrives all too soon! When you get it right she’ll float gently onto her main wheels with her tail in the air and will happily hold the position until you roll off the end into the rough. Not the best option so you’ll need to gently decrease the power until the tail drops to the ground. Don’t apply too much elevator too soon or she’ll be airborne again. Instead, make sure the tail wheel’s firmly down before attempting to pin it with elevator. Did we mention rudder? No? Ah! Don’t forget, as soon as those main wheels touch down we’ll need goodly amounts of rudder to keep the line as the tail drops and the model rolls to a stop. Get this little lot off to perfection and I guarantee you’ll be smiling from ear to ear.
ALL YELLOW AND LOVELY
There are no two ways about it, Hangar 9’s Cub is both a challenge and a total joy to fly. That said, it’s not a nasty aeroplane that’s waiting to bite the unwary. It has its limitations but as long as you respect them, it’ll put up with a fair amount of abuse and still get around the circuit looking all yellow and lovely. In short, it’s not a difficult model to fly but it isn’t the easiest of model’s to fly well… if that makes any sense? Personally, I love it and would recommend it to any competent club flyer with a desire to relax this summer.
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