A Unique Cub

Byung Lee in his Cub.

Byung Lee has a nostalgia for the old and historic but also demands many of the amenities of modern life and his unique homebuilt reflects these sensibilities. He refers to his plane as a Special 11 as the fuselage is based on original Piper Cub (Special) PA-11 plans. He chose the -11 for its aerobatic capabilities. But, the tail is PA-18 (Super Cub) style, as is the cowl, electrical system, and wing fuel tanks. The wings are unique. “Clipped” to facilitate aerobatics, he chose to shorten them less than the standard clipped-wing Cub and he is very happy with the results. He feels the approximately 31’-7” wing span performs superbly.

Panel in the Special 11 looks like mostly old style, round gauges but sophisticated, electric avionics are also hidden under the panel and floor boards. Also, note the clip to hold aerobatic routine notes.

Lee’s project started with a trip to the Smithsonian Institution’s microfilm library where he copied and studied about 800 drawings of the L-4 as well as the L-21 and PA-11). His goal was to combine the best features of these planes to build a utility airplane with basic aerobatic capabilities with the techniques and sensibilities of these vintage airplanes from the 1940s. Altering the wing length presented one of the most challenging design issues to ensure proper strut lengths and angles.

Italian leather seats with hand-crafted buttons (left). Modern avionics, like this autopilot hidden behind the front seat, satisfies former airline pilot Lee’s need for some modern amenities (right).

Using only traditional airplane building methods (e.g., oxy-acetylene instead of TIG welding) Lee fabricated all individual parts, including washers! He also avoided modern tools. Construction started in June 2002 and first flight occurred 19 years later, in May 2021. He has flown the plane 160 hours.

Lee and the plane will be just east of the Brown Arch through Sunday.


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Louise Hose
Louise Hose is an instrument-rated, commercial pilot who regularly flies her RV-6, her husband’s RV-8, and an RV-3B and a Dream Tundra, which they built together. They live in Dayton Valley Airpark in Nevada. She also edits the monthly, free digital newsletter, The Homebuilder’s Portal by KITPLANES®.


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