Starting in early November 2017, CubCrafters’ Director of Sales, Brad Damm, embarked on a cross-country tour of continental USA in our first production Carbon Cub FX-3. After a West Coast swing prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, Brad has continued to points further east. The intent of the tour is to introduce the new airplane to CubCrafters’ national Certified Sales Center network and also to interested Cub enthusiasts.
Brad shot some photos and video, and he solicited PIREPs from our CubCrafters dealers so we can all share their impressions of the FX-3. As he gathers more from his tour, we will make additions to this BLOG.
Ben & John Hodges
PIREP: Carbon Cub FX-3
At first glance, it’s obvious this airplane means business when it comes to backcountry ops. It has ramp presence, enhanced by the cowl/prop combination that makes a, “I’m a bad-ass airplane – bring it on”, statement loud and clear. We received enthusiastic compliments from the local Cub aficionados for overall presentation, including the orange paint. And we were impressed with how comfortably the paint seemed to fit the airplane when airborne. It’s surprisingly easy on the eyes for such a bright color.
The FX-3 has impressive takeoff thrust with abundant torque. The big 83″ prop provides positive tail feel immediately. Ground roll on takeoff is abbreviated compared to anything but a lighter Carbon Cub. Where a Carbon Cub SS rotates at 25, you might be at 30 in the FX-3. The FX-3 is more than up to the task of getting in and out of almost any spot that the SS can.
Once fully launched, the FX-3 is in a class of its own. Its climb stability is outstanding compared to the SS, which can be variable due to sensitivity to atmospheric disturbance. An FX-3 bores skyward, unfazed by gusts and turbulence. It just wants to go and go and go, up and up and up. With two up and ample fuel, we were climbing at over 2000 fpm.
Climbing out, I asked Ben to pin it, go slow, and read out the head temps. At under 60 mph, full throttle, through 5,000′, the head temps did not exceed 365 degrees. That experience left me in a state of unadulterated euphoria. This airplane has no temperature issues at all.
An FX-3 will cruise all day at 135 mph. That’s another big deal for an airplane that also performs well in confined environments. Light controls make high-speed maneuvering and proximity flying an unmitigated pleasure. Control feel and harmony is close to XCub, without the weight penalty. And you don’t have to keep a close eye on the yellow arc. The FX-3 is the real deal when it comes to uncompromised flight characteristics.
On approach, the FX-3 is capable of high-AoA, steep, behind-the-power-curve descents which can be arrested with power at speeds only slightly higher than Carbon Cub SS. Low-speed (30s) ailerons are quite good, and the highly effective low-speed rudder helps maintain roll authority. Those generous tail feathers and that big prop really do the job.
The FX-3 is a triumph for CubCrafters. Versatility, performance, quality, and bad-ass, all wrapped in one package. It’s a bunch of good ideas that have been well executed. The engine/prop combination is the best ever, and there is not a close second. If CubCrafters was to build only one aircraft, FX-3 is the choice. With the high-end XCub and the stellar STOL performer, Carbon Cub SS, CubCrafters has an unbeatable backcountry trifecta.
PIREP: Carbon Cub FX-3
I had the pleasure of flying the new FX-3 with Brad Damm, CubCrafters’ Director of Sales, into some of my favorite strips around Mesa, Arizona. Brad and I then flew half a dozen demo flights as well.
I can’t express adequately how nice the airplane is! I am totally in love with it, and I can’t wait for mine to be finished. Counting the days… 88 to be exact!
A few thoughts:
– Super smooth; you can’t feel any vibration from the engine, not even in the stick.
– The new stick, grip, and position are fabulous! No more hunching over.
– Take off was just as quick as my SS with two people in it…. did not notice any difference. It just jumped into the air!
– Climb is spectacular, and no matter how long I had it firewalled, even down to Vx 50 mph, I never ever saw a CHT over 375 degrees! And it was an 85 degree day.
– Easily achieved 127 mph cruise with just 23/23… burning just under 7 gph at low altitude.
– We had some turbulence at one point, and the airplane felt very solid and stable, more so than an SS.
The coolest thing Brad showed me was tooling along at a good clip, and just pointing the nose DOWN, with full-forward prop and pulling the power way back… felt like an enormous speed brake, and pushed me hard into my harness! Great for losing altitude QUICKLY without gaining speed. Flattened out near the runway and got the flaps out, then made a super-fast “go for the numbers” approach that the tower asked for. My demo customer was impressed!
All in all, this will be our best seller, I can feel it!
The photo below was taken at Buzzards Roost!
PS: I LOVE the orange paint scheme. Super cool!
PIREP: Carbon Cub FX-3
Brad Damm, CubCrafters’ Director of Sales, called me on Friday to say that he would run down to Texas on Saturday so that I could play with the new Carbon Cub FX-3 on Sunday. I scratched my head knowing that my last flight from Yakima to Texas in a Carbon Cub was 17.5 hours… a day and a half on the calendar. I thought, “Well he might make it here Sunday morning. I’ll get half-a-day in the airplane. So I spent the early morning hours of Saturday checking Flightaware for Brad’s departure from Yakima in N363EX, presuming he would get up and leave well before dawn. I was amazed that the airplane wasn’t showing up, so I wondered if he changed his mind. Just a little after 9:00 AM Austin time he popped up on the Flightaware page headed southeast. I knew there was no way he would arrive in Texas today, so I planned accordingly.
A few hours had rolled by when I checked Flightaware again. Brad has made it to Grand Junction, Colorado, so I assumed he would overnight there and come on in Sunday morning, arriving probably mid-day. Little did I know he stopped for a quick demo flight and to top off the tanks for the home stretch to Texas! I pulled up Flightaware again and Brad was at 17,500 feet doing 158mph in a Carbon Cub!! I did the math and was surprised to find that he might make Texas tonight. Fast forward to 9:00 PM and I see an aircraft approaching our private fly-in community from the NW with the ever-so-recognizable wig wag landing lights. Brad entered the downwind and I immediately notice something totally different with this aircraft: the SOUND… or should I say, the lack of it. It was incredibly quiet, which is a huge plus as we are surrounded by urban sprawl and we try hard not to disturb the neighbors with night ops.
After landing, Brad taxied up to my home and straight into the hangar. He opened the door with a huge grin and says, “Well, that was a day for the books!” I couldn’t believe he left Yakima at 9:00 AM my time and landed at 9:00 PM. 12 hours door to door with ONE fuel stop in a Cub!!! Immediately the word “versatile” came to my mind as I stood there in amazement. I looked to see how much fuel he had left, presuming he was running on vapors. Nope, not at all. He had well over 1.5 hours of fuel remaining. Incredible!!!
The next morning we awoke to a gorgeous Texas Fall day: clear skies and zero wind. After performing a preflight on the airplane, Brad briefed me on starting technique and said, “Go fly it!” Without hesitation I cranked it up. The majority of my 6,000 hours are behind fuel injected engines, so I was blown away by how quick and easy this thing came to life due to the dual Lightspeed ignition. Idle was incredibly smooth. After letting the temps come up it was time to get to business. I rolled the throttle in fairly quickly and, oh my, the tail came up quick! Snatch the flaps and I’m off. Having flown my current Carbon Cub FX over 300 hours in the last 16 months, I am in tune with what to expect from this airframe. However, I was not prepared for the acceleration/thrust developed by this engine and prop combination. It just flat PULLS and keeps on pulling! Developing 2700 RPM for takeoff with the 83” prop is dramatically different than what the CC340 with the 80” fixed-pitch prop can do.
I leveled off at my normal cruising altitude and pulled the prop and throttle back to set up a good maneuvering configuration. Remember that lack of noise I mentioned earlier? Well it was back again with a quiet cabin. Unreal how quiet it was and the engine was just loafing along. I was doing Carbon Cub FX speeds that would require a high power setting on the CC340. I then looked down at the airspeed tape and saw no YELLOW in sight at an airspeed that normally would be right in the bottom of the Yellow. I pushed the nose over, left the power in and it just goes! Still no Yellow! At this point I have figured out we have an incredibly versatile WINNER! Yes, there’s that word again. Ok, time to head back to the airport and do some landings. I did my normal rounded power-off pattern in close to the runway. This airplane weighs exactly 100 pounds more than my FX. I kept just a tad more airspeed in… that was a mistake. Floated the landing a bit and missed my touchdown point. Bring in the power again and leap into the air for another attempt to nail the landing. I told myself, “Just fly it like your FX dummy!” Using my normal speeds this time and Bam!!!! On speed, on target. Stopped almost as short as my FX and with my normal big brakes it will easily do what my FX will do.
After shutting down, Brad was grinning and asked, “What do you think?” I simply said, “HOLY #$@&!” He laughed and we talked about how much thrust this thing has and how awesome the speed operating envelope is. We filled the tanks to half and flew to my favorite off-airport sites. I have a number of ranch strips where I perform my demos, and with Brad in the back I notice it was even easier to get it down, full stall, three point.
After leaving my demo circuit, we put the aircraft into a Vy climb with everything shoved forward. 1,500 to 1,800fpm climb with low temps, making engine management a non-event in a sustained climb. This was unreal climb performance with two pretty good sized guys onboard. No, I didn’t call Brad fat!
After the climb we set up a high speed descent profile with the prop pulled back and simulated coming into an airport pattern out of the decent. Brad said, “OK, now shove the prop forward and pull the throttle back, like you would do if entering the pattern.” WHOA! Be prepared to be pushed forward into the belts as the prop turns into a massive 83” speed brake!!! Hmm… again that “versatile” word. This engine and prop combo is the smoothest I have ever seen in a 4-cylinder setup.
Later in the day, Brad needed to get some work done so I took the FX-3 out for some personal time. I put it through some slow flight maneuvers and more off-airport landings. This was followed by a couple passes at my home airport in different configurations: high RPM, low RPM, fast passes, and slow passes. The neighbors came out to see the new airplane at our little fly-in community. Needless to say, the FX-3 was met with much enthusiasm including our young future-aviators who brought their RC Carbon Cubs by for a comparison.
I can see using this aircraft for a broad range of missions at all altitudes due to its versatility. High, low, slow, fast, light or heavy, it will do it all with grace. I can’t wait to get this bird into my customers’ hands and see the smiles it brings as they begin to build memories in it.
One last thing to add here: I see this bird being the last airplane for many pilots. It does everything they might want to do. In my mind, mission accomplished by CubCrafters!
PIREP: Carbon Cub FX-3
WOW!! (Or, as Mike Sasser said, “Holy $*&#!) What else can you say after you fly the CubCrafters Carbon Cub FX-3 for the first time? What an absolutely awesome airplane!! And the “Fun Factor” is simply over the top!!!
With over 1,000 hours of Carbon Cub time in my logbook, including the factory-built SS (LSA) and a wide variety of kits built in our territory (the Carbon Cub EX and EX-2), I really wasn’t sure what to expect. If you’ve been to a number of airshows around the country and seen the rocket truck zipping down the runway (with flames shooting out the back), you can begin to get a feeling for my first take-off in the FX-3. THAT, I was not expecting!
As most pilots know, it’s not horsepower that makes an impressive airplane; it’s THRUST!! And the new CubCrafters 363i engine, coupled to the 83” Hartzell Trailblazer composite, constant speed propeller, creates a LOT of thrust! Alone in the airplane, half tanks of fuel, and nothing in the rear seat or the baggage compartment, I open the throttle, the tail comes up, and the airplane flies, all in a count of 1-2-3! The take-off distance, lightly loaded, is similar to that of a Carbon Cub SS with two people on-board (the FX-3 does, after all, weigh about 175 pounds more empty than the SS). But it’s not the take-off run that is so astonishing; it’s the climb!!! Nail the airspeed on 70 mph, point the nose at the sky, and watch the vertical speed indicator hover around 2,000 ft. / min.
I’ve had several Cub guys question the wisdom of the added weight and complexity of a constant speed prop on this airplane. Once they have a chance to fly it, I’m confident their question will be answered. This engine / propeller combination gives you an unlimited number of flight configurations to fit most any mission. Want to go FAST? Set the RPM and Manifold Pressure (MP) at 252, and watch the ground go by at 128 mph, indicated. Want range? Go to 20” and 2,000 rpm; it gets really quiet, the airspeed settles in around 110 mph indicated, with a fuel burn of less than 5 gallons per hour. Want to descend really quickly? Prop full forward, engine at idle, and point the nose toward the ground. The flat pitch on the prop acts as a speed brake, and it is only with some difficulty that you can even approach Vne, and the vertical speed indicator is off the scale, DOWN!!
Another really impressive box that gets checked on this airplane is vibration; there simply is none. The engine / propeller combination is as smooth as any airplane I have ever flown. The investment in vibration testing by both CubCrafters and Hartzell wasn’t lost on the FX-3. I don’t think even a full day of flying will wear on the pilot.
How about other cabin comforts? I’m a tall guy, and the height of the stick in the Carbon Cub has always been a bit of a challenge for me. Check that one off!! The stick in the FX-3 is simply perfect!! Cabin heat? I’ve never complained in the past (it’s Atlanta, folks!!), but the cabin heat system, coupled with windshield defrost that will roast you out of the airplane is just over the top!! I’m sure our customers in the northern part of the country will be most impressed!!
And the engine? Oh, MAN!! What an engine!! It doesn’t seem to matter how fast, how high, how low, or how hard you push this airplane, the Cylinder Head Temps (CHT) are not only cool (about mid-360’s), but the four cylinders are closely grouped in both CHT and EGT; a most desirable characteristic, and not one we usually see on the Titan OX340CC in the Carbon Cub.
Landing the FX-3 is very similar to a Carbon Cub SS. Obviously, with the constant speed prop, and a bit larger engine, I needed a bit more nose-up trim than with the Carbon Cub, but I think some tools in the back of the baggage compartment solves that. It’s just an outstanding machine!
I could go on, but this rehashing of my experience flying this airplane is making me more anxious to get my FX-3 demo here in January. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you’re flying cross country, back country, $100 hamburger, or anything in between, there’s just nothing not to like in the FX-3.
I’ll leave by saying that we can talk about it all we want (or can stand), but the only way you can truly appreciate the FX-3 is to simply get in it and GO!! Empty, loaded or anywhere in between, this machine will get you there in the style we have all come to expect in an aircraft manufactured by CubCrafters!!
PIREP: Carbon Cub FX-3
I put a little time in the new Carbon Cub FX3 today. It probably had 25 gallons of fuel in it. I had a little bit of a crosswind and my first impression was, “WOW, it really jumped off the ground!” The next 3 flights were from the back seat doing demos, and from there, the airplane just felt like a heavier SS. Then I got to go play a little in it.
The takeoff run is a bit longer than for a light SS, but not disappointing at all. Climbed to 4,000′ and CHTs never even got close to 400 degrees. TAS 127 @ 2,300sq., 8.5 GPH. SWEET!
I took the airplane to some of my smaller local strips. I started with the longer ones and worked down to a 300′ RC field. The plane performed well. Very capable Cub. I also landed on a local ranch with obstacles that is kinda tight, and felt like there was plenty of margin with this aircraft. I’ve never taken an FX in there before as I worried about getting back out. I think that, with some time, there is no place I wouldn’t go in an FX-3 that I take my Carbon Cub SS.
I heard PIREPs from others that suggested a heavy nose. I didn’t find that to be true at all. When a customer got in the airplane, he told me that he had heard the nose was heavy. I told him get that out of his head and go fly the airplane like he does in his SS. When he returned he never mentioned it. Giving PIREPS before someone flies something tends to put stuff in their head. Then they look for the things mentioned in the PIREP. Everyone’s skills and experiences are different and everyone should make their own assessment.
I personally prefer the flaps on the SS, but really slow approaches are very manageable in the FX-3. This particular airplane also has smaller brakes so stopping with 29’s is tougher, and I would consider the larger brakes offered by CubCrafters instead. The stick is too tall for me, but the other pilots loved it.
I think CubCrafters really did a good job with this. I think having slightly less STOL performance than an SS is balanced out by all the advantages this aircraft has. I don’t buy into gadgets and gimmicks. I’m very honest about my opinion, so when I say CubCrafters really did it with the FX-3, I’m being sincere.
CubCrafters GL/NE Region
PIREP: Carbon Cub FX-3
Last April I visited the factory and I had the opportunity to fly the new proof of concept airplane for the FX-3. A secret back then, I am really glad to be able to share now. Although this third generation of the Carbon Cub had yet to be officially announced, the FX3 concept had been introduced to some of our most loyal customers and we had multiple FX-3’s already on order. At that point no one had seen it or flown it yet , no customers anyway. You might be asking yourself how a new aircraft be on order when no-one had seen it or flown it? The answer I would say is that it is history of CubCrafters innovation that prompts such action. CubCrafters has a deep history in all things Cub; product development, design, manufacturing, and production. People know to expect great things from the company.
This next generation of the Carbon Cub FX/EX lives up to that legacy. It is bigger, stronger and faster. It can carry more, go further and provide extra comfort too. With the new 187 HP (it feels like more to me) CC363i fuel injected engine swinging the Hartzell trailblazer constant speed prop, this is the most powerful airplane CubCrafters has produced to date. The FX-3 will cruise at 130+ MPH and has a 2000# gross weight. These are things that many of our customers have asked for and we are happy to now be delivering. The staggering part is it still performs just like the Light Sport Carbon Cub SS when it comes to STOL. Having flown the proof of concept airplane back in April of 17’, I was amazed by the power the engine had. I advanced the throttle and was set firmly against the backrest of the seat and off the ground quick. That gets your attention, but it was a development aircraft with many changes still yet to come. I hoped I wasn’t going to be disappointed by the production version of the aircraft.
Fast forward to last Friday, December 1st. Brad was scheduled to arrive by 2 PM after a visit with a customer in Maryland who has an FX-3 currently on order. He arrived early. Speed it seems is an advantage the FX-3 has over most every other airplane in the class. He grabbed his gear and tossed me the keys and he headed for the hotel. I was eager to go up and did just that.
Hot starts I will tell you are a piece of cake. I left the mixture out, no boost pump needed, and as it fired I fed in the mixture. Easy peasy! So now that I have the first production plane in my hands for a few days, it is time to go run around some. Things I notice quickly are the prop it is huge, jumbo in fact. People ask where the performance of this aircraft comes from? Well, that is a big part of it. At 83” it towers to the sky while sitting inside looking out. I also look at the cowling because while it looks a lot like the XCub it is also quite different too. There’s completely new cabin air intake as well as an alternate air intake. Walking around I also see the wing struts are different with large driven rivets versus bolts and nuts holding the connecting forks in the strut. Its cleaner and must contribute to speed at least a little with less parasitic drag hanging out.
At a glance inside, I noticed the air ducts for the back seat passenger. Those are a super nice addition and one I know customers will appreciate. A few have commented that the Carbon Cub is chilly in the back. Not the case in EX/FX-3. The heat runs down the left side of the carbon fiber panel. That whole panel gets warm and must radiate heat itself into the cabin. The pilot has controls on the panel for all the heat in the cabin and the windscreen defroster too. This plane generates a lot of heat for comfort at this time of year. Enough that I turned it off several times while in flight.
As I mentioned the hot start was a non-event each time in restart. Another thing I noticed is the smooth start. This engine does not shake the airframe when it fires. The shake doesn’t bother me on CC340 equipped Carbon Cubs, but the smoothness is very noticeable and impressive too. All these little things pale in comparison to the takeoff and climb performance. It is just as I remember from last spring. Big thrust and lots of power all at once, it just pulls hard. While maybe it takes just a few feet longer in the takeoff run than the LSA Carbon Cub, most will be hard pressed to notice much of a difference once they fly it. It will do all that the LSA Carbon Cub will do I am quite sure. The climb is fast, smooth, and everything works nicely together. My top speed indicated by the Garmin G3X was 132 mph TAS at 24” and 2450 RPM, but I was also only at 2500’, so I know there is more in it, and that is on 29’s mind you.
I thoroughly enjoyed the flying with the light controls it is just a blast. Rolling into and out of turns is smooth and responsive and that fighter pilot grip makes you feel like one too. It is just real quick in that regard. Landings are absolutely the same as the LSA Carbon Cub in my mind. Everybody has their style, but with trim neutral, I did not lose elevator authority in short final close to the ground in that last 200’of the approach. The nose is a tad heavier and I was warned about it so I adjusted and it landed every bit the same as our other aircraft. I did a few air to air pics with a warbird pilot friend of mine and shared the plane with him too. He loved it, as did everybody who flew it here.
This plane might be all that anybody ever needs. It has speed, legs, comfort and available options that can satisfy just about any desire. I loved the orange and could see it with a royal blue or lime green stripe and trim lettering for grins. Those new to the brand for the first time may not buy without the demo flight, but with CubCrafters, the pedigree is safe and this is an aircraft that exceeds all expectations. Already loyal CubCrafters owners are hot to go and buying this aircraft in record numbers right now, and I understand why.
After two days with the airplane, my only question is: When can I have it back?
Mark Keneston (Yankee1)