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AOPA Sweepstakes: STOL much loveAOPA Sweepstakes: STOL much love

Mods make Sweepstakes Super Cub ideal backcountry airplane

A thin piece of metal mounted on each side of the fuselage in front of the horizontal stabilizer draws almost as much attention as the AOPA Sweepstakes Super Cub itself. Many pilots guess it is a splash guard, foretelling the aircraft’s future on floats, but this aerodynamic mod has nothing to do with water operations and everything to do with backcountry flying (see “High and Low,” November 2018 Pilot.)
Pilot Briefing December
Strakes on AOPA's 2018 Sweepstakes Super Cub

The tail strake, developed in the 1990s, is a common modification for older backcountry airplanes and is part of the CubCrafters Vortex Generator Kit. The tail strake and vortex generators (mounted on top at the thickest point of the wings) are “like mini wing tips” that create vortices and reenergize the boundary layer air to keep it attached longer to the wing and horizontal stabilizer, said CubCrafters President Pat Horgan, adding that the kit can improve controllability at slow speeds and reduce stall speeds on aircraft that are rigged properly and operated within their envelopes.

“It’s not magic in itself,” Horgan said of the tail strake, noting that the VGs and other foundational backcountry modifications such as CubCrafters’ three-inch extended landing gear, and foam elevator and rudder gap seals, combine to increase the aircraft’s safety margin. The AOPA Sweepstakes Super Cub has these modifications and is incredibly stable in all configurations from cruise to slow flight, and stalls are docile. The Super Cub doesn’t have a stall warning horn, but it gives ample notice: Vibrations start in the floorboard and move to the control stick and seat as the stall approaches.

A comfortable approach speed with full flaps is 55 mph with two pilots, about 20 pounds of gear, and 46 gallons of fuel, but it could be slower when it’s lighter. With a slow, steep, stabilized approach, landing in the first third of a 2,600-foot grass strip in Idaho is a cinch. There’s no floating and it takes an ever-so-slight bump in power to cushion the landing. CubCrafters’ three-inch extended landing gear coupled with Burl’s Aircraft Alpha-Omega Suspension System and Alaskan Bushwheel’s 26-inch tundra tires will make for a touchdown that is light and soft. With these modifications, one thing is for sure: The lucky winner will love spending time in the backcountry with this Super Cub.


Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Cobb has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.

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