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Cub owners celebrate 80 years

J-3s fly from Hartford, Wisconsin, to Oshkosh

For the first Cubs to Oshkosh event five years ago, to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the iconic Piper Cub on July 22, 2012, the weather was mostly sunny—with temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Leading up to the eightieth anniversary event on Sunday, July 23, however, the weather was much cooler—and a lot wetter, stopping some pilots no more than 30 miles away from Hartford, Wisconsin, and causing others to reverse course while still hundreds of miles away.

  • A Cub pilot logs some pattern time in Hartford, Wisconsin, on Saturday, July 22. On Sunday, July 23, the group flew to EAA AirVenture for the Cubs 2 Oshkosh group arrival. Photos by Mike Collins.
  • A row of Cubs rests on the grass at Hartford Municipal Airport. They had gathered for Cubs 2 Oshkosh, celebrating the Piper Cub's 80th Anniversary.
  • Rain delayed, or turned back, many Piper Cub pilots planning to participate in Cubs 2 Oshkosh, celebrating the Piper Cub's 80th anniversary. Ceilings finally lifted early Saturday afternoon, July 22, allowing another wave of J-3s to touch down in Hartford.
  • The sun sets over an armada of Piper Cubs at Hartford Municipal Airport on Saturday, July 22.
  • The 20-second takeoff interval for Cubs 2 Oshkosh participants allowed pilots to see the aircraft ahead for the in-trail flight to Oshkosh and EAA AirVenture 2017.
  • Cubs 2 Oshkosh organizer Steve Krog waves a flag to signal the next Cub's takeoff from Hartford Municipal Airport. He launched the airplanes at 20-second intervals.
  • A Cubs 2 Oshkosh baseball cap adorns the cockpit of a J-3 after the airplanes arrived in Oshkosh early on July 23. This is a pretty original Cub panel, down to the nonsensitive altimeter--note the absence of a Kollsman window.
  • After flying in from Hartford, Wisconsin, early Sunday morning, July 23, as part of Cubs 2 Oshkosh--celebrating the Piper Cub's 80th anniversary--these Cubs have been tied down on the EAA AirVenture flightline.
  • The tachometer failed on Doug Tomlinson's 1941 Piper J-3 as he arrived at Hartford, Wisconsin, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada--that's 16.3 flight hours. A mechanic, he is installing a rebuilt tachometer cable.
  • Glen Tinckler of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, polished the propeller, valve covers, and exhaust stacks of his 1947 Piper Cub.
  • Pat Hockett of Olathe, Kansas, talks with other Cub enthusiasts after landing at Oshkosh. Her blue-and-white clipped-wing Cub is behind her.

Although Cubs 2 Oshkosh organizers were hoping for 80 Piper Cubs to gather at Hartford Municipal Airport by July 22, before departing early on July 23 for EAA AirVenture at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh—and advance registrations supported that quantity—a total of 43 Cubs made the journey. Low clouds lifted early in the afternoon of July 22, allowing a late influx of arrivals to Hartford.

The event followed the template established by its predecessor five years ago. The Cubs gathered at the Hartford airport, which has both a hard-surface runway and a 2,000-foot turf runway that was preferred by most Cub pilots. Beginning at 6:08 a.m. on Sunday morning, Cubs began launching for the 39-nautical-mile flight north to Oshkosh, where most landed on Runway 36L. At 6:39 the last one lifted off, and quiet returned to the bucolic rural airport.

At AirVenture, the Cubs are parked together along the flightline on rows 67 to 74, and most pilots were planning to stay most of the week—although as cross-country travelers in an airplane like the Cub, they’ll also start looking at the weather a few days ahead of their planned departure, in case an earlier departure needs to be considered.

Special Cub-yellow signage greeted the Cubs 2 Oshkosh participants when they touched down early Sunday morning, July 23, at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

Organizers were pleased with the number of aircraft that made it to Hartford. “That’s a very good turnout, especially considering how poor the weather’s been the last couple of days,” said Steve Krog, who operates the Cub Club as well as the Cub Air Flight LLC flight school at Hartford.

Organizing a repeat wasn’t too difficult, Krog said, adding that five years ago, there was some reluctance to allow a mass arrival of very slow-flying tailwheel aircraft. “It went so smooth five years ago, they couldn’t believe it,” he noted.

The Cub arrival was not the only such event complicated by weather. At 1:06 p.m. local time on July 22, EAA Tweeted, “Bonanzas delayed by weather, no update at this time.”

Glen Tinckler of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, flew to Wisconsin for the event with two other Canadian Cub owners. He said the trip to Hartford took almost 19 flight hours.

Tinckler is a new pilot who has owned his 1947 Cub for two years. “I just got my license in it last fall, so this is hands-down the most cross-country flying I’ve done,” said Tinckler, who now has about 130 hours in the airplane.

“I used to fly in a Cub with my dad, when I was 10 years old,” and because of that, Tinckler had always wanted to learn to fly in a Cub. “It just took me a while to follow through.”

His dad is now in his 80s and stopped flying a few years ago, but Tinckler enjoys taking him aloft when he can—although his dad lives in another province, so flying him becomes a special occasion. “That’s quite fun. It’s like it’s come full circle.”

The first J-3 was built in Piper’s Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, plant on October 8, 1937, and likely would have made its first half-hour test flight that Friday—or soon thereafter, if it was finished late in the day. Look for an article on the eightieth anniversary event in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot.

Two Cub pilots talk as another flies the pattern just before sunset.
Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins, AOPA technical editor and director of business development, died at age 59 on February 25, 2021. He was an integral part of the AOPA Media team for nearly 30 years, and held many key editorial roles at AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, and AOPA Online. He was a gifted writer, editor, photographer, audio storyteller, and videographer, and was an instrument-rated pilot and drone pilot.
Topics: EAA AirVenture

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