Hangar Find: 1940 Piper J-5 Cub Cruiser

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Vintage planes like this 1940 Piper J-5 Cub Cruiser remind us that just like those of us who like to find sunny, dry days to tackle some backroads in a classic roadster or muscle car, there are aviation aficionados who take to the skies when the horizons are clear. The Piper seen here is a project for certain, but seemingly one with good bones and a cockpit that would suggest some pride in ownership in its past. The seller notes the wings have already been removed for easier transportation, as you’ll have to extract it from a hangar in Columbia, Tennessee. Find the Pipe here on Facebook Marketplace for $15,000.

That’s not the only classic hanging around what looks like a rural farm property, according to this photo – what other treasures might be hiding out there? Regardless, old planes like these always set my imagination racing as I wonder how long ago it was parked there, or where it went on the last fight it took. The idea of owning your own plane may generate assumptions that the owner was wealthy, but that’s not always the case – particularly in rural areas, a plane like this may prove far more convenient and efficient for getting from place to place.

Just so long as you’re OK flying solo. There is a very tiny backseat in this Cub, but the captain has the front row all to himself. These were astonishingly simple machines considering you’re able to fly above the Earth in one, but thankfully, this example has the more powerful 75 horsepower Continental engine. The seller doesn’t offer any details on when it ran last or if it was maintained for any measurable amount of time after it was retired, but at least the completeness of the plane would seemingly suggest it wasn’t prone to neglect. Still, a set of log books might help fill in the gaps in its history.

The interior condition is encouraging to my eyes, even thought they are limited. The seating surfaces look to be in very nice shape, and the painted surfaces show little in the way of wear and tear. While you could conceivably put two passengers in the backseat, I’m not sure I’d want to try it. The Piper is a wonderful throwback to the very simple days of pleasure flights, and while you may not want to travel far in something this primitive, it’d be wonderful for short island hops anywhere there’s a chain of landing spots, hopefully with some sandy beaches nearby.

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  1. geomechs geomechsMember

    The Super Cubs will go down in history as the most used and abused personal airplane ever built. Back in the day it seemed like every second farmer out in the country owned one. Still lots of them lurking in hangars somewhere.

    Going to go for a full-fledged inspection here. The covering is going to get replaced for sure. If you’re entertaining doing that yourself be extra cautious if you’re going to order your ‘DOPE’ over the phone. Someone might get the wrong idea…http://gearheadsncoffeestains.blogspot.com/2012/05/party-line.html

    Like 12
    • Pete T

      This isn’t a Super Cub, that was the PA 18, this is the earlier and much rarer J-5 Cub Coupe. Personally, if I lived in the USA and had the money, I’d snap this up in a heartbeat.

      Like 1
      • Steve P

        Not sure about rarity, there are over 280 on the US registry alone. Would be a fun project, but not for $15000

        Like 2
  2. unclemymyMember

    My last airplane was a J-3 Cub, that I sold to country singer Aaron Tippin in 1998. The J-5 is especially desirable, because you can carry two passengers in the rear seat. I used to have a hand lettered cardboard sign in the little baggage compartment, that I would put on the instrument panel to let my flying buddy know that the plane was down for maintenance. I later saw Aaron in a TV special with my cub, as he was taking the reporter for a ride. As he taxied past the camera, he held out my little cardboard sign, which read “DO NOT FLY, PARTS MISSING”.

    Like 31
  3. Phlathead Phil✈️🇺🇸

    I’m sure somewhere in the history of aviation someone made a plane with a phlathead engine that could land on a phlat-top carrier?

    Uh, boy…now we have ‘Hanger-Finds.” ?

    Like 2
    • Steve P

      That actually happened at the end of the Vietnam war I believe in 1975. A south Vietnamese colonel(I think) loaded his family in an O-1 birdsong and landed on the Midway

      Like 3
      • On and On On and OnMember

        I visited the Midway in San Diego last year and they had a display and film narration of that event. Very cool true story. Amazing ship worth a half-day look-see.

        Like 4
      • unclemymyMember

        That actual O-1 Bird Dog is proudly displayed in the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

        Like 1
  4. steve.

    Nearly worthless without the logbooks. An expensive bad idea even with them. The extra 10hp doesn’t make it able to do much more than the J-3 and will be doing that with a lower tops speed. I seem to recall that, like the J-3 you had to fly this one from the back seat when solo.
    With that said, if all it really needs is an annual, it might be a deal for someone.

    Like 2
    • Steve P

      In that condition and age, don’t think logbooks matter much

      Like 5
  5. lbpa18

    Should be available for considerably less if it doesnt have logs. But it would be a good airplane for a young man starting out or even a father-son project. Bone simple airplanes and plenty capable flying two adults on even long trips. If you think in terms of powered glider instead of short field performer, you’ll be closer to reality and not be surprised. For speed, think of going a little faster than a car, but on a straight line or routing of your choosing. See the countryside. Without logs, working to convince the FAA that the airplane is sound will be another (and necessary) skillset for a serious budding Airframe & Powerplant mechanic.

    Like 1
    • Steve P

      Yep, $15000 is too much for the amount of work required to make airworthy. Being a retired mechanic, would really enjoy rebuilding that little puddle jumper. Once airworthy, very inexpensive to maintain and fly. I’ve flown little tandem seat planes from Idaho to Florida and back, great way to see the country, low and slow. Often times due to head winds, cars going faster than I was😂🇺🇸

      Like 2
  6. Mark

    Getting the mechanicals of a 4 wheeled 1940 bf vehicle back up to snuff to the point where it can be safely driven on the road without having to worry so much about structural integrity is one thing, but the thought of sitting in something like this when it leaves the ground I find cringe worthy.
    Hat’s off to the folks out there who can pull off a full blown restoration of an old airplane.

    Like 7
  7. Karl

    The J3 was probably one of the simplest most friendly planes to fly ever. Very simple 4 cylinder carbureted engine obviously has dual mags one for each set of plugs in the cylinders. All the control surfaces are cable actuated. The biggest part of a restoration to me would be all the possible fabric work, it’s a long tedious task of recovering is required!

    Like 4
  8. Super Glide

    Bazooka Charlie, Major Charles Carpenter, flew a J4 in WWII. He added some accessories to his plane, 6 Bazookas. He used the plane as a spotter and while he was at it, took out German Tanks and APCs.

    He was involved in a friendly fire incident (no casualties), not in his J4. He was brought up on serious charges for it, but General Patton heard about his exploits and cancelled the Court Marshal proceedings and gave him the Silver Star. Patton said that Carpenter was the kind of soldier he wanted in his Army.

    Like 6
  9. Christopher A. Junker

    Possibly the covering was redone in the past as it doesn’t look 80 years old. I would hope the wings are new enough that they have metal spars and ribs rather than wood. The Piper is simple in concept, but a full restoration of air frame, engine, etc with $15K to start is for a true lover of the Piper “J” series.

    Like 0
  10. Karl

    I am pretty POSITIVE that logbooks ALWAYS matter!

    Like 2
    • bobk

      Only if you’re planning on selling the plane. Past logbooks are not required to fly it for personal use. If it doesn’t come with logbooks, you start from scratch creating new logbooks.

      I’m pretty sure that a J5 qualifies for Sport Pilot usage too which means you don’t even need a pilots license to fly it, again, only for personal use.

      Like 3
      • Mike1955

        No logbooks mean Low Value, you start from scratch with all inspections and ADs. Sport Pilot IS a certificate, same as a Private pilot, but with limitations.

        Like 0
  11. Dave

    If watercraft don’t consume enough of your disposable income, try aircraft.

    Like 9
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      Boy you got that one for sure. I had to make up my mind whether I wanted to own an airplane and spend everything I had on that or indulge in lots of other projects. I sold the plane; it broke my heart but I can at least have other toys…

      Like 1
    • Steve P

      I spent way less money on my boats than I did on my plane, which was a 1955 Cessna 170B. Really enjoyed the plane, but didn’t fly it as often as I thought I would, so sold it after a couple of years

      Like 1
  12. Phlathead Phil ✈️

    The only reason planes like this survive is this: They have wooden airframes and fabric wings.

    Modern planes corrode and become unworthy.

    You don’t need a logbook, only an “Airworthy” certificate from the correct airplane FAA inspector to become “airborne.”

    Like 1
  13. Karl

    You know I just realized that this old Piper was call a Cruiser, interesting because my first plane was a 1972 PA28-140 it had 0360 engine. Good little plane very reliable simple and inexpensive to maintain but it sure wasn’t fast!!

    Like 1
  14. TomV

    For a couple thousands more you could have this and fly , right away, with three of your (slim) friends.


    Like 0

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