Both the Aeronca Champ and Piper J3 Cub are good airplanes for learning tailwheel flying, but which is the best?
The Aeronca Champ and Piper J3 Cub are both fabulous iconic training aircraft with their roots established over 70 years ago. They weigh about the same, have big draggy wings and most left the factory with 65 horsepower engines. Bottom line is; there is not a great deal of difference between the Champ and the Cub and you will be thrilled flying either nostalgic airplane.
The Aeronca Champ which was designed and built after the end of WWII was suppose to correct all the little things that were perceived to be inadequate with the Piper J3 Cub. Arguably, the Champ did make some improvements, but they are considered minor. Both the Champ and the Cub are tandem seating (one behind the other), 2-place aircraft with control sticks rather than control wheels. In terms of speed, these were designed as training and liaison aircraft rather than cross-country flying machines. However, you will be faster than most horse drawn wagons unless there is a headwind. And, since windows are large, the view at your leisurely pace can be spectacular. Both the Champ and the Cub excel off grass airports and both love the smell of cows grazing nearby.
The Champ’s cabin is a bit wider than the Cub, and it has a real door. You are able to solo from the front seat in the Champ, so visibility is a little better because you can see over the nose. Neither the Champ or the Cub offer luxury or real comfort. Frequent breaks during training are generally necessary because you probably won’t want to spend more than 2 hours at a time in either airplane type.