|Brandon Jewett stands on his high-performance Super Chub's tire. Photo by Stefan Seville
Piper’s Super Cub is a pillar of bush flying around the globe and nicely sized—at least, for pilots of average stature.
But Piper never anticipated the six foot, five inch likes of Brandon Jewett, of Brighton, Colorado.
“I’ve seen some of these Super Cub guys in the backcountry and I couldn’t afford a [cub replica]. So I figured I could build my own,” Jewett said.
“And that way I could build one that fits me. Every airplane except the Airbus I fly for a living is too small for me.”
Starting with plans for a four-seat variant of the Cub line, Jewett began cutting metal for the plane he finished and brought it here to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011.
A plane he calls the “Super Chub.”
“This was my TIG welding project,” said Jewett, a veteran builder whose past projects include two Van’s RVs, a Breezy, and a Champ restoration. “I bought a new TIG (tungsten inert gas) welder and had to learn how to use it.
“I got pretty good towards the end.”
Fourteen months and 16 days later the airplane received its certificate of airworthiness and took to the air.
Form Follows Comfort
Seating two in a tandem configuration, the larger fuselage fits Jewett’s frame well—and meets his comfort goals.
“I can sit in there, put my feet between the rudder pedals, and stretch my legs out,” Jewett said, “which is nice when you are flying along.
“And I’ve always been too cold or too hot in airplanes, so I put in a really good heater and really good ventilation.”
The most distinctive feature of the Super Chub is the extremely tall gear legs to which the flotation tires attach.
“I wanted big gear for short takeoff,” Jewett said. “The reason I made the gear so tall—other than I really think it looks neat—is to get the angle of attack up so it just jumps off the ground.
“The best [takeoff] I’ve done so far is 91 feet with no wind. I thought that was pretty good.”
Tall gear makes for a problem though: visibility over the nose while on the ground.
“I thought that if I stretched the nose out and lowered the engine it would make the cowling look better and I could put more weight in the back. That was my strategy,” he said, adding, “Even on this gear, when I’m sitting on the seat I can just see over the nose. It’s just perfect. I don’t need to S-Turn when taxiing.”
A Super Chub, not super chubby
Low weight was another project target.
“The goal was to make it about the same weight as a stock Super Cub,” Jewett said. “It’s about 20 to 50 pounds heavier, but if you consider the weight of the tires, the extra weight of the landing gear, the extra weight of the [180-hp] engine, the weight of the constant speed prop, the heavier, higher gross weight struts, and the physical size of it, it ends up about 50 pounds lighter than even [the newest cub replicas].
“It has more horsepower, it’s bigger, and it will outperform a stock Super Cub like you can’t believe. It can take off shorter, land shorter and out cruise one by 15 to 20 miles an hour.”
Ultimately the Super Chub is a conglomeration of parts from a number of different aircraft types: engine cooling baffles and exhaust system intended for an RV-7, a flap handle from a Piper Tri-Pacer, wheels and brakes from a wrecked bush plane, a constant speed propeller off a plane receiving an upgrade, control sticks from an Aeronca Chief, and a salvage yard engine.
In keeping with the recycling strategy Jewett acquired all the sheet aluminum from a salvage dealer. Salvage steel for the firewall cost him a whopping $4.50.
Next Destination: wilderness
Ultimately the purpose for a backcountry airplane is to go to the backcountry and Jewett has plans.
“A lot of guys say it looks too nice to take it into the backcountry,” he said. “But I tell them once it’s been to Oshkosh and been judged, it’s time to go beat it up.
“I’ve been on two back-country fly-ins so far. I plan to get up to Idaho and to some of the backcountry strips.
“If I can plan it, maybe in three or four years I’ll take it up to Alaska.”
Jewett is obviously proud of his creation and plans to use it, but he is by no means done building airplanes.
“I’m one of those people who obsess [about a project] until it is completely done,” he said. “Then I go work on something else.”