Piper J-3 Cub History
William T. Piper was not an engineer, but he was an astute marketer. He reasoned that aviation in general, and his company in particular, would benefit from a simple, inexpensive airplane that could significantly lower the cost of flying. After acquiring controlling interest in the Taylor Aircraft Company, he commissioned chief engineer and nominal president C. Gilbert Taylor to design such a plane. The result was an aviation milestone.
The success of the E-2, the first Cub, proved Piper’s theory of lowering the cost of flying correct, but he wasn’t satisfied. In 1935, at Piper’s behest, assistant engineer Walter Jamouneau substantially revised Taylor’s design to create the J-2 Cub. Among other things, he enclosed the cabin and added a glazed, top-hinged panel to the existing bottom-hinged door, thus creating that endearing Cub feature, the ability to fly with the right side of the plane completely open.
Simple yet versatile, cheap but capable, the Cub prospered because it was so often the right tool for the job – whether the job was training pilots, spraying crops, entertaining at air shows, packing sportsmen into the back country or simply blowing off steam. A cherished antique and sought-after sport plane, the Cub continues to cast its spell as it introduces pilots to (or reminds them of) the simple pleasure of flying low and slow.
Taylor and Piper thought they were designing a cheap airplane. Little did they know that they were creating an icon.