Meet The L-21

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Pablo Edronkin

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The PA-18 is a great airplane for bush flying, but the L-21 is even greater.

Those that have some degree of experience as bush pilots, off road aviators or whatever you choose to call this mode of lying in and out of the wilderness with no runways as such, know very well what the Piper Super Cub, the mighty PA-18 could do. This is the last and widely considered as the best Cub since the time of the J-2 and J-3 and its evolution towards the PA-11, PA-12 ad finally, PA-18. But let me tell you: Its military-grade cousin, the L-21 is even better.

A L-21 freshly restored.
A L-21 freshly restored.

First of all, the visibility from the cockpit is better, since the L-21 was designed as a liaison and reconnaissance aircraft, so what would be better for that than having Plexiglas all around the pilot? Its windows are bigger and cover more fuselage surface.

Taking off in a L-21 for a test flight.
Taking off in a L-21 for a test flight.

Then, as the L-21 is really a PA-18 put on military steroids thanks to having been designed under MILSPEC standards, it is more aerobatic and robust. Provided that any L-21 has original L-21 components instead of the often compatible but slightly less performing PA-18 spares, it will do more for you and fly a little bit better.

Just testing...
Just testing...

Flying the L-21 with a 160 H.P. engine instead of the more common 150 H.P. for PA-18s is remarkable: Those 10 extra H.P. make a real difference.

Waiting for more fuel.
Waiting for more fuel.

There are not many L-21 around due to the fact that is was produced in relatively small numbers; however, they can be bought at a price similar to that of a PA-18 and since they perform better, it is likely that getting one for true bush flying will make very good sense.

And then, once again to the air...
And then, once again to the air...

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