The Plane, the Company
About the Piper Super Cub
From the early 1950’s forward, the immensely popular Piper PA-18 Super Cub became firmly established as one of America’s top choices for backcountry flying. Dependable and honest, it was an economical and reliable design perfectly suited to the rugged outdoors. Though long out of production, this iconic design spurred numerous copycat clones in today’s light sport and experimental aircraft world.
More than 60 years of practical flying experience, however, will realistically expose the shortcomings of any design. The Super Cub is no exception. While its faults are few, especially to purists, top issues on any list include cabin entry and comfort for today’s pilots, real load hauling capability, and some airframe weaknesses exposed during years of rough use. Coupled with the ever-present desire for improved STOL performance, a modern Super Cub design warrants much more than what the straight clones offer.
For more than a decade, Backcountry Super Cubs has been the unrivaled leader in improving and modernizing the PA-18 design. Today, Backcountry’s "Super Cub Rev III" is a premier version of what a Super Cub can be.
About Backcountry Super Cubs
After purchasing Ontario based Smith Aviation in 2006, the company moved to Wyoming and operated for a short time as Turbine Cubs of Wyoming, LLC. In 2008, the company joined forces with Wayne Mackey of Miles City Montana to produce Wayne’s impressive STOL Quest SQ-2 version of the Super Cub. For those unfamiliar, STOL stands for Short Take-off and Landing.
At that time, with more than 25 years of Super Cub flying experience, Wayne had tried almost everything related to Super Cubs. With the SQ-2, Wayne transformed the Super Cub into his personal vision of the next generation Cub. Most striking about the design were his brilliantly innovative articulating leading-edge slats and an extended chord wing that gave the Cub unsurpassed low speed maneuvering. The result was impressive STOL capabilities not seen in this class airplane before.
Simply put, the airplane does not stall like a conventional airplane. It is best described as a stable attitude, nose high plow with a stable descent (sink) rate. With the slats, the airplane is virtually impossible to spin. This adds an incredible amount of safety to backcountry STOL flying. To complete his vision of a next generation Cub, Wayne incorporated a larger entry door, more room for the pilot and passenger, a larger, open access baggage area, improved visibility for STOL operations, and a strengthened airframe.
By 2009, the Douglas Wyoming company pivoted completely from the turbine engine path and on opening day of Oshkosh that year, officially became Backcountry Super Cubs, a name change truly aligned with the company’s mission to produce airplanes outfitted to comfortably and safely escape to the backcountry.
The Backcountry Super Cub Rev II and Rev III
With ongoing efforts for continued improvement, in 2017, company owner Bruce Reed detailed additional airframe improvements for a true, load-hauling backcountry work-horse. This included an even larger, more ergonomic and comfortable cabin, improved all-around visibility, provisions for a third seat, and dramatically robust shock absorbing landing gear. This change further progressed the Super Cub/SQ-2 design and became the Super Cub Rev II.
Next came a new wing proposed by Wayne Mackey featuring large, deep chord flaps with an innovative and novel double slot. Combined with this impressive wing, the Rev II rose to the next level as Backcountry's current flagship airplane, the Super Cub Rev III.
With design roots firmly traced to the PA-18, the Rev III is an outstanding evolution of the Super Cub and Mackey SQ-2 designs. Unlike straight clone copies with the old inherent Cub shortcomings, the Rev III is a rugged, safe, and powerful performance STOL Super Cub. It is a refined airplane improved by experienced backcountry pilots for modern backcountry flying. It might well now be called a "good and proper" Super Cub.
Someone once said the Rev III is “just the right amount of huge.” In terms of cabin comfort and ease of entry that could not be more correct. The cabin is wider and taller, the door is wider, and the front seat legroom and rudder positions are vastly improved for pilot operational comfort. Cabin visibility is breathtaking. The load hauling capacity is massive, with even an aft-facing third seat position available in the roomy baggage area. The baggage area can double as a sleeping platform with room to stretch out. The airframe has been beefed up, particularly in vulnerable areas such as the aft fuselage structure where many Cub clones still come up short.
The rugged Rev III landing gear touts Pilatus Porter style shock absorption for the mains and a robust shock-absorbing tail wheel to handle the roughest terrain. The airplane looks perfectly scaled for 35-inch main bush tires.
The STOL performance of the Rev III is best in class for real world STOL. That means STOL performance with a heavy useful load of gear and provisions in the real backcountry. This is not a stripped down, lightweight competition STOL weekend poser. The Mackey style articulating leading edge slats and massive deep chord, double-slotted flaps enable helicopter like approach speeds and landings. The powerful Lycoming IO-390 engine rips the Rev III out of short fields with confidence.
Whether you are flying challenging, rough-country STOL, or fun recreational STOL, the Backcountry Rev III brings capability and real world STOL performance to all levels of off-field flying. Get off the beaten path and escape to the great outdoors of flying with Backcountry Super Cubs!