When Legend Aircraft Co. unveiled plans to produce a modern version of the Cub, I admit I was skeptical. Usually, when you try to remake a classic, it falls short of expectations.
The Legend Cub, manufactured in Sulphur Springs, Texas, manages to avoid the “remake” curse because, frankly, it is not a remake of the Piper model. It is a refinement.
Legend has managed to make an airplane that has the classy lines and styling of the vintage design while adding refinements to improve the safety and comfort.
SAME, YET DIFFERENT
The Legend Cub falls into the Light Sport Aircraft category. For pilots who want to fly an LSA — and want to get back to GA’s roots, yet don’t want the responsibility of maintaining a vintage aircraft — the Legend Cub may fit the bill.
Size matters when it comes to buying a plane. If you have to wear the airplane, chances are good you won’t fly it very much. Here the Legend Cub outshines the J-3.
The J-3 measures just 25 inches wide at seat level in the front and 23 inches in the back. The cockpit of the Legend Cub measures 28.5 inches in the front and 26 inches in the back. Those extra inches mean more comfort for pilots who have “matured” since their early Cub days.
The fuel tank also has been relocated on the Legend from the area just ahead of the instrument panel to the wings, resulting in a shift of CG from a traditional Piper Cub.
“This means that it can be legally soloed from the front seat,” said Kurt Sehnert, demo pilot and Legend’s general manager. “It can be difficult to solo from the back seat in other Cubs because it is hard to see the panel. You will notice that in the Legend Cub the airspeed indicator is placed so that it can be more easily seen from the back seat. It is set to the far left of the panel so you can see around the front seat pilot if you do want to fly from the back.”
That’s good news for pilots who want to give their friends and grandchildren rides and want to put them in the front seat.
The panel doesn’t have a great deal of real estate, but this is a Cub, so how much instrumentation do you really need? You can pick the appointments to your panel. If you want to go old school, you can get a basic steam gauge VFR day-time-only panel. Or you can get one of the newer, smaller glass displays that are popular with the homebuilt crowd. Or you can combine the best of both worlds and get steam gauges with a mounted GPS.
Sehnert took time out at the last Copperstate Fly-In to take me for a flight. He climbed into the back seat and gave me the front. Getting in and out of the Cub takes a little practice and flexibility. Put your foot on the peg, grab the crossbar and swing in.
Engine start is easy. Work the throttle (on your left), put the mixture full rich, turn the key and wait for the oil pressure to come up. Move the throttle forward and you start to move.
Hold the stick with your right hand and focus on keeping the tail down and the airplane going in a straight line. Watch those wing tips as you taxi.
It had been months since I flew a taildragger but the Legend Cub is so docile it won’t do anything to surprise you on the ground, provided you respect it. This Cub, like its 1930s predecessors, has heel brakes. Those may take some getting used to.
A quick run up and we were cleared for takeoff. Sehnert demonstrated, with the phrase “Here we go,” as the throttle came forward. I counted. Four seconds and we were airborne.
Within seconds we had climbed to 2,000 feet AGL and Sehnert turned it over to me.
I spent a few minutes getting a feel for the rudders and ailerons.
Like most Cubs, the Legend Cub is trim sensitive. A few gentle turns on the wheel gave us the proper attitude for cruise flight.
Because we were operating near a fly-in, we kept a sharper-than-normal eye out for traffic. This was not difficult because the Legend Cub has expansive windows.
“You can even fly with them open,” said Sehnert, “but it does get kind of noisy in the back seat because it is breezy.”
Sehnert took the controls to demonstrate slow flight. After a clearing turn he throttled back and let the airplane slow down. Like the J-3, the Legend Cub does not have flaps, so inertia has to be dissipated. The plane remained stable as he eased it into a power-off stall, then let me have a try at a power-on stall.
I applied power and pulled the nose up. There was a buffet and the nose dropped straight ahead and it was over.
“That was it?” I asked. “I’ve had sneezes that were harder.”
“That was it,” he laughed. “It’s hard to mess up.”
Steep turns were next. The ailerons were light and crisp. Adverse yaw is at a minimum.
Our next stop was a nearby airport for some touch and goes.
Sehnert took the controls to demonstrate a slip. We came down rapidly but not out of control. He kicked it straight and we landed, main wheels first, then tail. Hold the stick in your gut to hold the tail down. The airplane remained true down the runway.
Sehnert let me do the takeoff. Steer with your feet. Don’t be surprised at how fast the tail comes up. Stick forward, let it fly off the runway.
Again we were up before I knew it.
There are lots of options with the Legend Cub. For the powerplant you have a choice of a Continental O-200 for the classic J-3 look with the open cowl or you can go with a Jabiru 3300A if you want a closed cowl. Each engine comes with further options for propellers and oil systems and, if you opt for the Continental, you can get chrome covers to really dress up your bird.
For paint, you can chose from the classic yellow with the black stripe or the Cub Special, which is a two-tone paint scheme that comes with a variety of features, such as a leather interior, adjustable air vents, a lighting package, larger tires, and a Nav/Comm avionics package.
If you want to go military retro, Legend Cub also has the Legend Combat, which is a military-inspired olive drab complete with the so-called meatball insignia of the US Army Air Corps/Air Force circa 1942 to 1962.
Turnaround time from order to delivery is approximately three months. The company also sells a kit-built aircraft called the Texas Sport. It recently opened a builder’s assist center at the Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport (KSLR) to help owners get their planes done in as little as 21 days.
For more information: Legend.aero.
- Wing span: 35 ft, 6 in
- Length: 22 ft, 5 in, to 24 ft (depending on model)
- Height: 6 ft, 7 in (8 ft for floats)
- Empty Weight: 815 to 970 lbs
- Max useful load: 460 to 505 lbs
- Top speed: 95 mph to 115 mph
- Cruse@75% power: 90 mph to 98 mph
- Stall speed: 38 mph
- Takeoff distance: 270 to 310 ft
- Landing distance: 260 ft
- Rate of climb: 550 to 900 fpm
- Fuel capacity: 22 gal (20 usable)
- Fuel consumption, 65% power: 4.5 to 5.6 gph
- Range, 65% power (no reserve): 295 to 413 miles
- Service ceiling: 11,500 to 18,000 ft