A colder than anticipated autumn night mixed with the faintest of winds out of the northwest made the evening a cold one. Battling the physics of sleeping on uneven ground to being slightly elevated on an ultralight cot, one soon learns that in the balance of warmth versus comfort, warmth will always win. Multiple layers adorned a colder version of me huddled inside the smallest of spaces one could make inside a sleeping bag built for more temperate climates. The opening cinched tight left little to no chance for the somewhat warmer atmosphere inside to leave.
Waking to the sounds of your body shivering, a casual glance out the porthole reveals two shapes you’ve longed to see this year. Those who seek to maximize their machines capability scoff at the compound curves Jamoneau brought to the Taylor Cub. For me and Josh, however, there’s something about those wingtips that makes a Cub a Cub.
Another fly-in (albeit a more local, casual one) sprung up on the calendar and thanks to some good weather, better schedules, and an amazingly supportive wife, I flipped the prop once and flew south. October has brought forth the flying weather we’ve waited for all year, and adds a more vibrant display of the changing colors in the mountains. Two Cubs, a few Cessnas (152, 172, 172, and a 182), a Sport Cruiser, a Citabria, a Rans S-7, and a CarbonCub joined the home-based Beech 18 nearing flying status at the Cedar Valley airstrip. Last spring I thought this magical place was on its way out. Land owners have been lucky to find a manager who keeps their love for aviation alive with the ongoing paragliding / powered parachute schools using the area as a perfect training ground. Tonight, however, the local aviation community with off-pavement privileges turned this hidden gem into a closer to home camping spot.
Watching my buddy Jason practice exercising the capabilities of himself and his CarbonCub, I’m once again reminded of the reality that our Cub wins two awards at every fly-in. One being the lowest horsepower, and the other, the oldest airplane.
Our Cub was supposed to be step one in the process of finding an airplane that needs some love, turning it into a project, and eventually selling it as the funds generated help procure the next starting point in the process, albeit with something bigger in size and capability. Over 350 hours later in our Cub, while I long for the intricacies of the process in restoring another airplane, I haven’t the heart to part ways with ours.
Whether I thought it was an emotional attachment to my first airplane, whether it be those countless hours spent with my father in law transforming it from what it was to what it is, whether it be the simple economics of owning an airplane that is relatively cheap to fix, fuel, and fly, one thing came to me this cold morning and led me to a fourth, possibly more compelling reason.
Many ask, and yet the answer remains. We haven’t named the Cub. For a while I thought that this simple omission left the Cub to be somewhat soulless in nature, but staring out the small porthole in my sleeping bag, I may have as easily been staring into a mirror. I see a lot of myself in the Cub. More than the blood, sweat, and tears that mark the many places where man and muscle turned metal into machine, a modest outward appearance and a clean bill of strong, limited power available in the simplest of fashions is the physical manifestation of “less is more.”
Economics and simplicities aside, I am the Cub and the Cub is me. Stretching time to share with others the exhilarating experience that comes from one of the most visceral ways man can take to the skies, the Cub is a storyteller, a best friend and thoughtful companion. A supportive place to rest and a captivating force pushing you further in both the mind and the heart. A window to the world, and a door into your soul. A machine that traverses both space and time. An enigma; less truly is more.
I know that for the present I am entrusted as the caretaker of our Cub, and that innate calling is not lost on me. While I strive to be worthy of such an opportunity, I must not lose myself overlooking the onset of oblivion. Tonight, however, we shivered together, resting alongside the gravel runway, in the company of like-minded adventurers. The full moon reflected what little light the sun was sharing with us, and for some reason, I escaped what little warmth was left inside my sleeping bag and gazed into a mirror, and found a reflection that I’ve been longing for since I could remember. And while my muscles may have regretted those few moments of cold air, my heart yearns for these introspective moments once again. Next time, however, I’ll make sure my brain chooses a warmer sleeping bag.