Pre-flighting a J-3 Piper Cub

Since there's no Pilot Operating Handbook for the early Cubs, it follows that there's no standard pre-flight check list. If you run into an FAA examiner, you may be challenged to do your pre-flight from a written checklist, and if the FOB's checklist is as daunting as mine was, you may prefer to create your own. Here's the one I use, printed on the front and back of a 3x5-inch file card:

Preflighting the Piper J3/L4

Walk around--fabric & tiedowns
Cockpit: controls free & correct
- seatbelts secure
- ignition off
- trim neutral
- altimeter 93 ft
- primer closed & locked
- carb heat off
- gascolator: drain & check
Starboard: bungee cord taut
- landing gear attachments secure
- no hydraulic fluid leak
- brake disc & pad functional
- tire inflated, good condition
- strut attachments, leading edge
- spar flex
- aileron free; attachments & cable
- belly fabric in good condition
Tail: trim mechanism secure
- starboard flying wires & attachments secure
- rudder attachments secure
- steering springs, chains, leaf spring, tailwheel
- port flying wires & attachments secure

Preflight - 2

Port: belly fabric in good condition
- aileron free; attachments & cable
- spar flex
- wing strut attachments, leading edge
- pitot tube
- tire inflated, secure, in good condition
- brake disc & pad functional
- no hydraulic fluid leak
- landing gear attachments secure
- bungee cord taut
Engine: gascolator, drain & check
- undersite & port cowling pins secure
- port ignition harness secure
- propeller secure, no cracks or dents
- ignition harness & intakes seen from front
- starboard ignition harness secure
- oil level at 3-4 quarts; cap secure
- no significant oil leaks
- starboard cowling pins secure
- fuel tank full; cap secure


The "CIGARS" is there in case the inspector wants to see a written pre-takeoff checklist. If you don't know the acronym, here it is:

C for Controls free and correct (the customary H)
I for Instruments correct (I read them aloud from port to starboard)
G for Gas correct (I go from starboard back to port)
A for Attitude correct (trim neutral for takeoff)
R for Runup
S for Safety check