The Cub inspiration
The current generation of young people are a clever bunch. If you are having issues with that new mobile phone, iPad or GPS, then track down a teenager. They will probably look at you with scorn but they will have you sorted far quicker than reading the tedious instruction manual. Today’s youth are as happy using technology for recreation as we were riding our pushbikes.
Today children grow up immersed in the computer world from an early age, and there is little doubt that this is a necessary part of surviving in the modern world. However, so many kids seem to spend their lives glued to their gadgets, heedless of real life outside marching on by.
We grew up in a much more hands-on era. Gatherings of “old” people will hear much reminiscing about childhoods spent building things to play with. Money was tight and toys were few. Many pilots were inspired to learn to fly after years of model aircraft building as youngsters.
Whether it is right or wrong, times have changed. Recreationally there are so many more options for people to try than ever before.
Could this be one reason why fewer young people are learning to fly for pleasure? How do we attract a new generation to sport flying and aviation related careers?
We need to engage them at an early age and foster this interest. Giving kids the opportunity to learn broadly based manual skills alongside technology isn’t a new idea. However, combining the idea with an aviation theme is only just starting to take off in New Zealand schools, and a number of projects over the years have seen secondary school groups build aeroplanes from kits.
Paul Morrison is a retired technology teacher from Wellsford who has recently helped a group of pupils from Otamatea High School to build a replica Cub. He took a small group of students who were committed to working on a long-term project and produced a remarkable result. The skills and self-esteem they gained from the experience greatly helped them to find employment when they left school, a huge advantage for students in more remote communities where career opportunities can be difficult to come by. The completed LMA Cub replica ZK-OHS has now finished its test flying programme and is a credit to Paul and his team.
Following this success, Paul has formed the Otamatea Aviation Academy in conjunction with Otamatea College. The community is right behind the concept with a purpose-built premises for the Academy. They aim to have the building paid for within two years and are grateful for the financial support they have received. Fundraising is ongoing and Paul welcomes any support from fellow aviators.
He has another group of students underway on a three-year project, building a Cubflyer CA-18 designed by Malcolm Savill of Classic Aviation Designs in Hamilton. This is a wooden framed, fabric covered Super Cub replica kit. The students learn every aspect of the build process which teaches a wide variety of skills.
Malcolm is currently well through building the first of his Cubflyers which is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year. He has a strong desire to see more young people be given the same opportunities that the Otamatea students have had.
Understanding the requirements for placing such programmes into schools, Malcolm has developed a specific structured three-year education package based around the Cubflyer. This contains lesson plans for both classroom and workshop construction procedures. Ready to be adopted into high schools in the next school year, the programme has been two years in the making, and participation can lead students into exciting career paths.
Malcolm and his wife Christine have raised two sons who have benefited from their father’s skills as a designer and builder of 4x4 offroad racers in the 1980s and early 90s. Both sons have had motorbikes and farm cars over the years and learned that “if it breaks then you must fix it”.
Malcolm has returned from a visit to AirVenture at Oshkosh, invited by the EAA to speak on two occasions at the Homebuilders workshop. They wanted to hear about the new CA-18 Cubflyer and also about his plans to promote the Cubflyer Education Programme (CEP) into both New Zealand and US high schools. The audience liked the idea that schools could offer a structured aviation programme from start to finish and that the students must meet set achievements along the way.
Malcolm found that not only New Zealand faces a shortage of skilled workers, and the message portrayed by many aviation companies at Oshkosh is the same. Unless we can motivate our teenagers and teach them valuable skills, employers will have difficulty finding workers to fill vacancies in the future. This concern is not exclusive to the aviation industry.
He reports being very pleased with the interest and enthusiasm the international crowd showed when he unveiled his new aeroplane. With the dozens of Cub lookalikes that have been built over the years, he was encouraged by the level of interest shown.
The appeal of the CA-18 design includes the quick build time (approximately 1200hr), easy wooden construction (no special tooling needed), most parts CNC cut out ready to be assembled, metal components supplied ready to fit, the comprehensive instructional package and backup, plus the low cost. The aeroplane can be built to fit within the class 2 microlight category or the heavier version fitting into the LSA specifications.
Malcolm will power his prototype with a 100hp Continental O-200 engine which will give it a performance comparable to the Piper Super Cub’s. In fact it will be difficult at a glance to tell the two apart. He has flown and observed Cub ZK-BQV on many occasions and so knows just what he wants from his finished aeroplane.
He has used his design skills to draw up comprehensive full-size plans which are laid out on purpose-built tables to ensure the sections will be true and no twisting can occur. As with a common model aircraft technique, the wooden components are built over the top of the plans which makes for an accurate fit.
After research and consideration, Malcolm decided on western hemlock as the timber for the job as it is lightweight, strong and easier to obtain in New Zealand and less expensive than traditional spruce. Careful thought has gone into ensuring weight savings are made — but not to the detriment of component strength.
As he has gone along, Malcolm has weighed, measured, recorded and photographed the construction process. This documentation will become a comprehensive instruction guide for those building a CA-18 Cubflyer, and videos will be available to demonstrate more complex tasks. He has made it a priority throughout his designing and building the CA-18 that it must be easy for first-time builders and school groups to construct. Malcolm will also provide as much help to the builder as required and can assist by building the more complicated or time-consuming sections.
Various kit options will be available to the builder. Full kits include all wooden and metal components, glues, fabric, interiors, instruments, undercarriage, wheels, tyres, engine and propeller. Just build it and fly away.
Another option supplies everything except the engine, instruments and interior, allowing the builder to customise to suit individual needs.
This is aimed at groups of pilots building together. Economics have forced many rural aero clubs to sell their aircraft as they can no longer afford to keep them flying or retain the services of flying instructors. Fewer people are learning to fly GA aircraft and there is a growing movement towards microlights and LSA types, but Malcolm sees this as a good chance for syndicates and aero club groups to get together and enjoy the satisfaction of a quickly built, classic fun aeroplane.
Oshkosh is a mecca for the homebuilding movement, and exposure there is invaluable, not only for the chance to meet potential customers but also to tap into expertise and useful product suppliers.
One of the most noticeable things at Oshkosh is the fellowship and enthusiasm of the EAA members who are happy to share their knowledge and are always on the lookout for new ideas. It is a great place to make contacts and of course it is a huge marketplace.
AirVenture 2012 was a special year for any fan of Piper Cubs, being a celebration marking the 75th birthday of the type. The distinctive little yellow J-3 Cub was built between 1938 and 1947 at the Piper Aircraft Corporation, in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.
Company founder William T Piper had a dream. He wanted to see a Piper Cub in every garage in America. That was probably a bit unrealistic, but they did produce an astonishing 19,888 aeroplanes in that time, making it one of the most popular civilian types ever produced.
To kick off the week-long celebration, a mass arrival of 60 J-3 Cubs turned the blue sky into yellow. There are some amazing time-lapse videos on YouTube showing the logistical nightmare that landing, taxying and parking this many light aeroplanes creates. It all went like clockwork and the result was a paddock full of pure sunshine. The total number of Cubs flying in over the week was close to 200.
Malcolm couldn’t have picked a better year to share his new Cubflyer with the Oshkosh crowd. Pipers have always been his favourite aeroplanes. Although he learned to fly in a Cessna 172 at the Waikato Aero Club in 2002, he preferred the Piper Archers when he was fully licensed in 2004. He also gained a multi-engine rating in the club’s Piper Twin Comanche as a fairly new PPL, going on to become a shareholder in the ill-fated de Havilland Devon and still having shares in the de Havilland Dove based at North Shore.
Today Malcolm owns Piper Cherokee 140 ZK-DGQ based at Te Kowhai. Only in the last couple of years has he had an opportunity to go taildragging — hence his interest in Cubs.
Malcolm is looking forward to returning to Oshkosh next year with the Cubflyer as so many friends there are keen to see the finished product. He is also keen to get the schools programme off the ground and will be promoting his educational programme around the country. In the meantime he is busy finishing the prototype and looks forward to the test flying, and the new CA-18 Cubflyer should take to the skies very soon.
Malcolm can be contacted via his website:classicaviationdesigns.com for further information.
- Report by Neroli Henwood, photographs by Malcolm Savill
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