Our local EAA Chapter 105 is a great group. Once a month for as long as anyone remembers, our chapter has been hosting a pancake breakfast fly-in. It's always the first Saturday of the month, at Twin Oaks airport near Hillsboro, Oregon. This goes on year-round, rain or shine. I don't always attend. It's a long drive for me, and if the weather is bad it's really not fun for me to go that far just for breakfast. But if the weather is nice and airplanes are active, I'm there. Not only is this a great social gathering and a lot of fun, but it's a good fundraiser for our chapter as well. Members of the chapter rotate as volunteers on the work roster. As a result, my name comes up about twice/year to serve on KP duty in the kitchen. Today was one of those days. Being July, the weather was gorgeous! So as I pulled into the airport, I saw more cars and the longest line of people that I have ever seen at this event. Wow! Since I'm on duty, I don't have to wait in this line. I get to cut to the front to get my breakfast before I go on duty.
At the end of the breakfast, something really great takes place. Everyone who served on duty that day gets their name tossed in the hat, and a drawing takes place. Today they drew my name! What does this mean? It means that the guy who owns this place, Mr. Bob Stark, will take you up in one of his aircraft for a free ride! As we walked outside, this beautiful Carbon Cub was sitting there in the grass. This is an amazing aircraft! I've been an admirer of this aircraft and the company for a long time. You can read all about it on their website here: www.cubcrafters.com
You may be surprised to learn that I've never flown in a Cub (of any kind) before. In fact, I've never been up in an RV-4, RV-8, or any kind of tandem aircraft. This is truly a first for me!
As exciting as this was, it got better. Bob asked me if I'd like to sit in the front seat. Heck yeah! So here I am, getting strapped in, admiring the panel.
The panel is beautiful in it's simplicity, but it's a powerful little suite of instruments. Dynon FlightDEK D-180 EFIS, Garmin 696 GPS, GTX-327 transponder, and an SL-40 Comm. A backup airspeed indicator, and that's about it.
Here we are, shortly after takeoff. Talk about a takeoff... wow! When he pushed the throttle in, we barely started rolling and the tail came up. I'll bet we didn't roll 200 feet before it lifted off and screamed into the sky. The angle of climb is something you have to experience to believe. Here's the panel, all lit up, right after takeoff. NIce!
The visibility is outstanding, of course. Here's the view out the right side as we climb away.
For all the impressive takeoff and climb performance, this plane doesn't have high speed. It's definitely not designed for that. It's low and slow flying at it's best. Here we are, putzing around at about 80 mph.
That's it for the pictures, because at this point Bob handed the stick over to me. So I got some nice stick time in this plane! The landing was a bit of a surprise to me. Bob took the stick back when we entered the pattern. On short final, I noticed we were a bit off center for the runway. I resisted the temptation to grab the stick and correct our approach. The reason we were doing this is because Bob didn't land on the runway. He gently greased it down on the grass alongside the runway. Beautiful! After all, that's what this plane was designed for. I made a comment about the landing as we walked away from the plane, suggesting that he was saving wear-and-tear on the tires by doing so. He said "yes, exactly. These tires cost about $1,000 each!"
Thanks, Bob, for an experience I'll never forget! This was a beautiful experience.
UPDATE: July 28, 2012
A very funny thing happened, and I had to put a note in here. As you can see above, I was at Twin Oaks on this day, working in the kitchen for the breakfast, and later taking in this fabulous ride in the Carbon Cub. As luck would have it, there was an engine sitting on a pallet outside with a FOR SALE sign on it. I have been looking and keeping my eyes open for months, wondering how I would ever cross the barrier to engine-ownership. The price tags on the new ones are sky high (no pun, haha) and I can't see how I could save enough cash to get one of them. The one for sale is an O-360, exactly what I'm looking for. But with everything going on, somehow I COMPLETELY MISSED IT!! Almost a week later, a friend of mine, who isn't even involved in aviation, calls me up and tells me he heard about an airplane engine for sale. That got my attention, so I asked him what he knew. He said it had been on display out here at Twin Oaks at a monthly pancake breakfast they have. I about fell out of my chair! And I told him, of course, that I was there but I didn't see it. So he emailed me some thumbnail-sized photos. They were so small I couldn't make out the phone number on the for sale sign, but I called Twin Oaks and soon found out who had the engine. Long story short... after several weeks of checking it out and pulling some financial strings, I BOUGHT THE ENGINE! If you haven't seen it already, check out my engine page and read all about it!