AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 16

LETTERS
Ode to the Super Cub

" Ode to the Super Cub " was
truly the best aircraft article
I have ever read. It captured
my exact and private thoughts
of my flying experiences
and pleasures. Sometimes I
feel guilty that I often do not
include others in my aviation
moments, but the reality is that
for me it is much more private
and spiritually connecting
unshared.
Mine is a beautiful F.260
Marchetti that captivates me
and often asks me to take her
flying. Whenever I am with her
I feel like the luckiest man in
the world. Together we have
experienced the most beautiful views of nature and realized
how few humans have ever
gotten to see or experience
such moments.
Thank you, Richard
McSpadden, for sharing such
a captivating story about the

The most eloquent

SAFETY SPOTLIGHT

BY RICHARD MCSPADDEN
Senior Vice President
AOPA Air Safety Institute

Ode to the Super Cub
An aircraft that tugs at your heartstrings

AOPA Air Safety
Institute Senior
Vice President
RICHARD
MCSPADDEN loved

his Piper Super Cub
so much, he bought
another after selling
his first.

MY SUPER CUB IS A SPLENDID PLACE for social isolation-whether flying it, or just doting over it in the
hangar. I can sit for long periods, just admiring the
lines on this iconic airplane, which has spawned so
many successful derivatives. It reclines casually on its
back wheel, comfortable in its distinctive yellow color
that doesn't seem right on any other airplane. The joyful hue is a welcome contrast to the dark news often
encircling us during this pandemic.
Most temperate days, I head out to the hangar a few
hundred feet from our eerily quiet offices at headquarters and lunch with N517WC, which spends most of its
time locked in solitary confinement. I imagine that 7WC
is always happy to see me and wonders why I was gone
so long. What could possibly keep me from the awesomeness it is always poised to reveal? Like an attentive
dog, waiting at home, the Super Cub waits for the hangar door to open and our next adventure to begin. I sit
with it, sometimes re-reading the scant owner's manual, sometimes preening its fabric, and make promises
I won't keep about all the upgrades it will get. No one
is around. No mask necessary. Social isolation with this
thing that brings so much joy, even when caged.
Airborne, I'm inspired by the views it reveals, which
extend endlessly and keep feeding my windscreen, like
the repeating reels scrolling by car windows in old movies. Only this view extends 360 degrees around me and
changes, constantly, for as long as I fly. The simplicity of
a Super Cub affords a lot of time to admire and ponder.
Eyes don't need to be in the cockpit much; there's not
much there to check that can't be affirmed by outside
visual and aural clues. The more complex jets I used
to fly are stunning performers, but they were divas,
demanding to be the center of attention. They were
proud for me to see the dials and digits they flaunted
like expensive jewelry, and they insisted that I attended
to them frequently. The surrounding scenery was but
a setting to emphasize their impressive performance.
My Super Cub, on the other hand, shuns the spotlight, preferring to cast attention outward on the drama
it exposes. It demands patience. It will take me anywhere; I just need time and a patient disposition to soak
in what it uncovers. The Super Cub's tandem seating
indulges the refuge I seek in flying. I'm embarrassingly
selfish in the cockpit and have no serious desire to
change that-in part because I'm at my best flying solo,

a serendipitous trait during a pandemic. I've never fully
adapted to a crew of any kind flying with me. I don't
like explaining my decisions or announcing my actions.
I forget to delay just a second as common courtesy to
advise someone to clear for a flight control check, or that
I'm closing a window or changing a fuel tank. I resent
the implied obligation to entertain someone within six
inches of me. Perhaps years of solo flying in the U.S. Air
Force tainted my acceptance of someone else encroaching on my cockpit sanctum.
I usually fly at 500 to 1,000 feet above the ground,
following valleys and surfing ridges. I'm a nuisance to
air traffic control on flight following when I am that
low, moving in and out of radar coverage, so I rarely talk
to ATC. ADS-B and satellite weather offer exceptional
situational awareness on weather, traffic, and obstacles that I never had flying the divas. I listen to music
and go long periods near a meditative state, absorbing
the splendor. I'm sure people in other hobbies find this
experience in different ways, but I don't know how.
How do they match the combination of perspective, the
natural beauty in this world made accessible to pilots by
demanding skills developed over years? Skills that allow
pilots to harness one of the most dangerous forces in the
natural world, gravity.
Quietly, in the subconscious, these skills-once so
hard to master-now come with ease and seem as natural as walking. There's an inexpressible feeling of
satisfaction and pride in that realization, and a level of
amazement. An underlying recognition that it is all so
precarious, really. Or could be, save for the knowledge
and skill I've built. The Super Cub has no ability to
overcome gravity without me, and it will dutifully follow my commands, even to our mutual doom. Defying
the natural order can come crashing down, literally, if
my skills or decisions balancing this complex equation
of flight go amiss.
So, I realize that is my charge. To maintain knowledge and skills, fly it often enough to remain proficient,
and proceed more cautiously when I'm not. It won't get
all the upgrades I promise, but I must maintain it to be
reliable. Then I can continue to defy the natural order,
seek more adventure, and dream up more exploits for
when this pandemic is grounded.
AOPA

words I have ever seen
about my favorite
airplane. My very first
learning experiences
were in one. Forever
enjoy your flying in
N517WC.
Jorge Velez
AOPA 00634081
Wilmette, Illinois

EMAIL richard.mcspadden@aopa.org

26 | AOPA PILOT March 2021

love of flying for flying's sake
and the love of our aircraft that
allows us to experience it.

what might have happened had
Catherine Cavagnaro continued landing with the deer.

Lessons from a CFI

Test Pilot

Marc Williamson
AOPA 1091419
Mcpherson, Kansas

Great article in the March 2021
magazine. Scary to think about

Ken Rogers
AOPA 5054127
Wichita, Kansas

The answer to Barry Schiff 's
quiz question about OFF R L

" Flying the Piaggio Royal Gull was every bit as fun and fascinating as you'd
expect, " said AOPA Editor at Large DAVE HIRSCHMAN, " but the most memorable part was watching pilot/owner John Mohr in action. " Mohr ( " WAY AHEAD
OF ITS TIME, " p. 50) is best known for coaxing maximum performance from
a stock Stearman biplane in daring, low-level airshow performances, and he
was a highly sought-after instructor at Northwest Airlines. " Seeing him fly
the Gull was a master class in piloting: Smooth, precise, limitless systems
knowledge, curiosity-and a wry sense of humor. " But Mohr's enthusiasm for
flying reaches far beyond seaplanes, aerobatics, and heavy jets. He's also an
accomplished model airplane pilot, and during a weekend getaway in rural
Wisconsin, fellow fliers would gather around-day or night-to see him loop,
roll, and spin model airplanes such as the float Husky shown here.

HANGAR TALK

ALYSSA J. COBB talked to 17 moms, each with amazing stories of how they bal-

ance life and continue flying, for " FLYING MOMS, " p. 58. " I tried to conduct most
of the interviews during my son's naps or while my parents watched him. But
during one interview, my son slipped, hit his lip on a round coffee table, and
started screaming. The mom on the other end of the call allowed me to put
her on mute for a few minutes while I calmed my son. All the moms were in
similar situations, either holding their babies while we chatted; talking while
their children were in the next room for virtual learning; or sitting in their car,
coffee in hand to talk aviation while their husband watched the kids inside.
Perfect scenarios were few and far between, but it was evidence of how we
juggle everything we love-our families, our careers, and aviation. "

16 | AOPA PILOT May 2021

BOTH START is quite obvious. The creator's primary
language was Hebrew, and
everything written in his language reads from right to left.
Richard Somers
AOPA 1128220
Pacific Palisades, California

Errata

" Natural Wonder " (March
2021 AOPA Pilot) incorrectly
referred to the Provincetown
Airport as towered. It is not.
" Far Flung " (March 2021
AO PA P i l o t ) i n c o r re c t l y
d e s c r i b e d C o p a l i s St a t e
Airport as being in Oregon.
It is in Washington state.
AOPA Pilot regrets the
errors.
We welcome your comments.
Send letters to Editor, AOPA
Pilot, 421 Aviation Way,
Frederick, Maryland 21701
or pilot@aopa.org. Letters
may be edited for length
and style.



AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - 5
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - May 2021 - Cover4
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