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Vintage Piper Cub J-3

Visitors to The Ohio State University Airport’s Austin E. Knowlton Executive Terminal & Aviation Learning Center are inspired by the 1940 Piper Cub J-3 soaring prominently from the second floor ceiling of the terminal lobby.

Donated by the late Donald Peters, a Trans World Airlines pilot, the aircraft is a favorite of aviation fans of all ages. It has a long and storied history, having been based in the central Ohio area from its early days of service.

“I would like the community to remember the important role Columbus played in the history of aviation, and the connection between our city and early pioneers of aviation," Peters stated at the time of the aircraft's donation.

Image of Piper Cub soaring from ceiling of KOSU terminal.


Image of Piper Cub tail
An American light aircraft built from 1937 to 1947 by Piper Aircraft, the Cub is one of the best known light aircraft.
Image of Piper Cub cockpit
Left to right: Tachometer, oil temperature gauge, airspeed indicator, magnetic compass, oil pressure gauge, altimeter.
Image of Piper Cub propeller
The fixed pitch two-blade wooden Hartzell propeller is attached to the engine and was original to the aircraft.
Image of Piper Cub throttle.
Unlike most modern single engine piston aircraft, the throttle control is mounted on the left side of the fuselage.
Image of Piper Cub emblem.
The flying rat emblem on the aircraft’s side represents the World War II Army 308th squadron.
Image of Piper Cub engine.
The aircraft has a somewhat rare 65hp Franklin engine that must be hand propped to start.

History of the Piper Cub J-3 at KOSU


Image in black and white of Norton Field in central Ohio
Norton Field

The donated Piper Cub was purchased in 1940 by Northway Flying Service to be used as a training aircraft at Norton Field in Columbus, Ohio during World War II by two government programs: Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) and War Training Service. Many future Army and Navy pilots completed initial flight training in these programs before enrollment in military pilot classes.

Norton Field, which no longer exists, was Columbus’ first official airport and was located on E. Broad Street in Whitehall. World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker was a guest at the airfield's gala christening. Norton Field was created by the Army Air Service in 1923 and named for Fred W. Norton, an outstanding Ohio State Class of 1917 athlete and graduate. Norton died in 1918 after an intense aerial battle for which he was decorated, and was the first Ohio State graduate to die in World War I.

From service to restoration

Image of Harley Snook and family in front of Piper Cub
Harley Snook and family members with the Piper Cub

After WWII was over, the late Harley D. Snook, a CPTP flight instructor from Norton Field, purchased the Cub from the flying service. He operated the aircraft at his Snook Field in Reynoldsburg for about a decade. Years later, Snook and Peters, who was Snook’s flight student in the 1940s, worked together to restore the aircraft from 1992-1995.

“Snook did the work and I provided the funds,” Peters said.

Many years after its restoration, in 2018 the aircraft was donated to The Ohio State University Airport by Peters. It now inspires the community and airport guests.


  • Engine: Franklin 4AC-176-B2 65 hp fixed pitch propeller
  • Maximum weight: 1750lbs
  • Useful load: 767lbs
  • Seats: 1 pilot and 1 passenger
  • Cruise speed: 65 knots
  • Fuel capacity: 12 gallons
  • Range: 191 nautical miles
  • Ceiling: 11,500 feet
  • Dimensions: wingspan 35 feet 3 inches, length 22 feet 5 inches
  • Take off distance: 200 feet
  • Landing distance: 350 feet

"It has no electrical system so it must be hand propped to start it and is used for daytime only unless battery powered navigation lights are rigged for night time flying. It has been used at times in the past for winter flying by installing snow skis to replace the wheels.”

- Donor Don Peters, as stated in 2001