Friday, March 21, 2014

Pennsylvania: House Committee eyes Piper J-3 Cub as official state aircraft

Myrtle Rose stands by her 1941 Piper J-3 Cub named "Winston" on her property. 

LOCK HAVEN - After several years of futile attempts to gain Pennsylvania General Assembly approval, a bill to designate the historic Piper J-3 Cub as the official state aircraft is again making its way through the state House.

This time, Mitzi Gallagher told the Clinton County commissioners on Thursday, the chances of final approval look good ... or at least better than they have in the past.

At the urging of local officials, state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre counties, again submitted the bill for consideration and approval, according to Gallagher, who serves as Hanna's local legislative aide.

This time, Gallagher said the chances look better because the bill is up for consideration before the House Tourism Committee, instead of the House Transportation Committee, where several years ago, the chairman declined to allow the matter to move forward for a vote.

It's possible this bill could be voted out of committee on schedule on April 2, Gallagher said.

The concept of an official state aircraft - frequently recommended by local historians, fans of the aircraft, elected officials, legislators and others -has lagged in legislative limbo for close to four years due to inaction.

Rep. Hanna, continues to support legislation to designate a Piper-built plane as state aircraft - and yesterday, the commissioners, particularly Jeff Snyder, promised strong support for the bill, and action in the form of a telephone call campaign to each member of the House Tourism Committee.

With past attempts at passage, Commissioner Joel Long has noted there's really no competition for the Piper J-3 Cub when it comes to designating it the state's official plane.

The commissioners are hopeful that this year - and in time for Clinton County's 175th Anniversary celebration - the effort proves successful.

The Piper J-3 Cub was built in Lock Haven between 1937 and 1947 by Piper Aircraft Corp.

It became an industry standard for its safety, ease of operation and stability. A favorite of private fliers, it was also vital to the country's military preparedness and participation in World War II.

"Flying" magazine ( has called the Cub "Aviation's Holy Relic." Just about 20,000 J-3 Cubs were manufactured during a 10-year span that shadowed World War II.

Today, the Piper J-3 remains a popular aircraft for fliers and collectors with well-attended annual fly-ins in Lock Haven.

Snyder noted that, in the heyday of civilian aviation, Piper was the training ground for many pilots who went on to serve in the U.S. military, and was frequently the plane of choice for those who came back home after their service.

The Piper J-3 Cub is easily recognizable by its fuselage's famous standard yellow paint, which has come to be known as "Lock Haven Yellow."