In late 2004, I was approached by Tim Elliott and Darin Hart regarding their prospective launch and remake of a Piper Cub. Development of a prototype had been underway for some time. The two were associated with a local EAA chapter, both pilots and business owners.
The construction of a new airplane was being handled by Hart, who at the time ran a custom shop involved primarily with production of interiors and components for corporate and head-of-state aircraft. An A&P, Hart had previously rebuilt a 1946 Piper Cub that received numerous awards including Best in Class at the Oshkosh fly-in in 1991. Elliot flew a family-owned 1939 Piper J3 Cub as well as a cabin-class twin-engine aircraft for business. Both contributed a wealth of vision to the new company that was soon to launch.
With plans in place, and an added measure of panache, the Legend Cub debuted at Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in, April 2005. The startup’s “vintage exhibition,” as it were, drew large crowds, and earned the new company an eagerly welcomed backlog of new aircraft production orders.
In June of that year, American Legend Aircraft Company announced the successful first flight of its Legend FloatCub. KSLR, home to Legend, is situated on a lake. With Hart residing on another nearby lake, adding floats to the airplane seemed an automatic next move.
Anticipating the company’s return to Florida in 2006, the first Legend FloatCub was transported to and debuted at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base—a world renown facility for pilots seeking a seaplane rating and their #1 training aircraft are vintage Piper Cubs on floats. There it made a splash, confirming the universal love for the Cub and the ubiquity of its use on both land and sea.
When Piper produced the Cub, they tested numerous engines among many available at the time, eventually concluding that Continental Motors offered long-term stability both for aviation in general and Piper itself. The durability of Continental engines has proven, even today, their lasting relevance. Moreover, the sounds they produce are beyond compare. Four gently humming cylinders speak the sound of a “small airplane” while, in much the same way, the Cub’s bright yellow paint stirs emotion for flight.
Regulatory approval of the new Legend Cub came via the FAA’s newly authorized S-LSA designation. A set of consensus standards, published by ASTM, offered American Legend a streamlined means of obtaining airworthiness approval for their production of aircraft.
The new light-sport aircraft initiative set out to do a number of things, among them, reduce barriers to entry for both planes and pilots. The concept forged its appeal early on among an aging generation of pilots. Legend’s first customer was a prime example of this new trend. The third delivery of a Legend Cub was also significant as it was the first “glass panel” Cub sporting the newly introduced Dynon EFIS-D100.
For most sky gazers, upon first sight of a small airplane aloft, the delightful Cub comes to mind. Yellow Cubs with their complementary lightning bolt stripe and black “eyebrow” cylinder baffles are perhaps the most famous. However, when Legend decided to offer a closed cowl version of its Cub, what came to mind for its paint scheme was the Cub Special. The new closed cowl Legend Cub featured an elegant blue base on the belly and aft fuselage including the vertical fin. This aircraft was unveiled as the Legend Cub Special and it too was an immediate success.
Dynon was the maverick new company in experimental avionics in 2006. They offered many stunning new products which pilots were eager to get their hands on. The FlightDEK-D180 combination EFIS and engine monitor became standard equipment on the high-end Legend Cub Special. Niceties of the EFIS included the display of fuel flow and carburetor inlet temperature, up to 16 engine gauges. This signaled the beginning of numerous future options to come available on the beloved, newly built new Legend Cub.