Aircraft Spotlight: The Iconic J-3 Cub

From that legendary shade of ‘Cub Yellow’ and the jet black lightning bolt to the bear cub decal on the tail, no other light aircraft has touched so many aviation enthusiasts across the globe as the iconic Piper J-3 Cub!

Built between the years of 1937 to 1947, the J-3 Cub was first introduced as a trainer finding several uses during the WWII effort. The simple design, affordability, and flight characteristics such as short takeoff and landing (STOL) and soon the J-3 Cub was being compared to the Ford Model T. The success of the J-3 Cub was so widespread that virtually any later produced aircraft of its type was dubbed, ‘Cub.’

When Gilbert and Gordon Taylor, the brothers who formed Taylor Brothers Aircraft in Rochester, NY first introduced the design it was the right thing at the wrong time, and the brothers took their factory to Bradford, PA. The Great Depression was center stage at that time and subsequently, only 5 aircraft were built.

That first version was named ‘Chummy’ and upon its arrival in Bradford, company stockholder William T. Piper believed in the design and set forth to create the legendary Piper J-3. The name of ‘Cub’ came via the first engine that powered the first Piper J-3. It was a woefully underpowered 2-cylinder engine from the Brownbach company called ‘The Tiger Kitten.’ One of Pipers accountants made note that an airplane with a ‘kitten’ engine should be a ‘Cub,’ and the legend was born!




Fast-forward to today and there have been over 20, 000 of these aircraft built around the globe. Many J-3’s are widely used as bush aircraft because of their short take-off and landing requirements that are often found in those bush area airstrips.

The main plant where all the original Piper J-3 Cubs were built was in Lock Haven, PA. The plant closed its doors in 1984. Every year since then Cub enthusiasts, as well as those proud Cub owners, flock to Lock Haven, PA for ‘The Sentimental Journey’ Cub Fly-In. These ‘Fly-Ins’ attract Cub lovers both young and old as the Legendary Cub has definitely found a footprint in aviation history and an even bigger place in the hearts of those who love this iconic little yellow ‘Cub!’

Since the original Cub manufacturer is no longer around, that does not mean that the design is not alive and well! Several aircraft manufacturers now offer an ‘ever so slight variant’ of the icon. Companies such as CubCrafters, Legend Aircraft, and others have also found success with the J-3 platform. Out of those original Lock Haven Cubs, there are still in excess of 5000 of them flying today!




Yes, if there is one aircraft to put on your bucket list of aircraft to fly, the legendary Piper J-3 Cub should definitely be one of them! Cub pilots around the globe agree, the Cub as iconic as it is, is still a joy to fly!

Perhaps you are planning on attending ‘The Sentimental Journey’ Cub Fly-In next year, but find yourself needing an air charter to fit the occasion. This is where aviation service from Saker Aviation can step in. Our charter service would be ideal for this trip of a lifetime to pay tribute to one of aviation’s long-time icons, The Piper J-3 Cub!