What It Takes to Buy a Used Piper J-3 Cub PDF Print E-mail
Written by Aviator   
Monday, 15 February 2016 23:08

What It Takes to Buy a Used Piper J-3 Cub

A Harley. A pair of Levi’s jeans. A black mini-dress. Whenever we say that a design is a classic, that’s because its simplicity seems to capture the essence of what it ought to be. And this perfectly describes that ultimate classic in private aviation—the Piper J-3 Cub.


This famous high-wing 2-seater is a true trailblazer in American aviation. It was first produced in 1937, and the idea behind it was to produce a plane that was cheap and easy to fly as to encourage people to rent and buy planes. The price of the Piper J-3 Cub was set at $1,300 which at the time was almost the same as the price of a new car. The low price made it a bestseller.

But it was not the love of flying that would propel people to fly Piper J-3 Cubs. It was the love of country. When war broke out in Europe, people with foresight understood that sooner or later the US would be drawn in, and they needed to be prepared. That led to the establishment of the Civilian Pilot Training program, and the CPT used the Piper J-3 Cub as its main training airplane. By the end of the war 4 out of 5 US military pilots were introduced to flying with the Cubs. These planes were not just used for training, but for recon, transporting supplies, and medical evacuations.

The end of the war also brought an end to Piper J-3 Cub production in 1947, but the legend of the Cub would not be forgotten.


Pros and Cons

Aside from its history, the handling of the Piper J-3 Cub is superb. It is simple and forgiving of pilot mistakes. Its simplicity extends to its construction, so maintenance and repair is easier. You also don’t need a lot of runway to take off and land.

But at the same time, you need to accept the limitations of such an old piece of machinery. Its maximum speed is just 87 mph, and its cruising speed is 75 mph. Its rate of climb is less than 500 feet per minute, and you only have a range of 220 miles. It can carry about 455 pounds.

And don’t even think about advanced features. There isn’t even a radio in this plane. You navigate by sight along with a map. This is the true essence of flying.

Buying Tips

If you’re aiming to buy a used Piper J-3 Cub, you better be prepared for some challenges ahead. Buying a Piper J-3 Cub is much like buying a classic car. It’s not so much for the specs but for the sake of history and nostalgia. About 5,000 of them are still flying in the sky, and many of their owners have had them lovingly restored.

So if you want to buy a used Piper J-3 Cub you may have to set aside a budget of $40,000. You may also need to brush up on your knowledge of the history and specs of the Piper J-3 Cub, because the owner may not sell their plane to someone who doesn’t deserve to own one.