Al Mooney’s wooden wonders keep popping up here at the North Cascades Vintage Aero Museum
Al Hook of Los Angeles, CA has donated his long time treasure with a 56 year ownership of Culver Cadet LFA, S/N 315, NC37806. A little history regarding Al and his Cadet – Al bought the little wooden speedster to commute to work in the LA basin back in 1955, Al’s job was about a 45 minute commute by auto and 15 minute commute by the little Culver, Al chose the Cadet whenever possible as his flying time was minimal and the joy he received doing so made his job that much easier.
Al flew the Cadet for about another 10 years doing the commute when time finally caught up on the little Cadet’s airframe and 90 HP Franklin, with major work lurking in the form of a recover, woodwork in the airframe and a major overhaul on the Franklin 90, Al chose to park the Cadet instead of selling her. Fortunately Al had the good sense to hanger the little Culver in several dry hangers for the next 40 years!.
Al’s love for this little machine never waned, and finally in 2004 Al contracted with Culver guru Carl Badgett in Snohomish, WA to do his Magic with the Cadet’s airframe and 90 Franklin. This would be Carl’s last Cadet project, Carl would move onto a 1937 Packard convertible that he has recently completed which has turned out magnificently. Carl spent the better part of three years replacing a lot of wood , overhauling the little 90 Franklin and recovering the airframe, complete with the two tone three stripe paint scheme in Diana Cream and Santa Fe Maroon.
The Cadet was completed in late 2007 and test flown out of Harvey field in Snohomish, WA. Following a few corrections and fixes the Cadet was flown to Los Angeles by Al and Paul Rhule, another Culver guru from Phoenix, Arizona. The flight down went without event in 10.5 hours, again the Cadet found a hanger in the LA basin where she again would sit due to Al’s unfortunate health issues until his decision to donate the Cadet to the collection here in Concrete. Because the airplane had not flown in almost seven years the decision was made to truck the Cadet back to Concrete, Drew and a helper drove down and took two days to disassemble the little speedster and load her into a 16′ Penske rental truck.
Once back in Concrete, another decision had to be made whether to reassemble the airplane or do some cosmetic work to bring the airplane up to Museum standards . What was found was the Colored Butyrate dope peeling off in sections from the primed fuselage fabric, within 3 hours helping hands had all of the dope finish removed from the fuselage.At the same time we chose to recover the Rudder, Elevator and horizontal Stab, this would only leave the wings which looked to be in fine condition. To date the fuselage has been block sanded and primed and is ready for a coat of Santa Fe Maroon Ranthane and then the trim color three stripes in the Diana Cream. The Tail surfaces will be finished in the Randolph dope finish up through color, we chose to go the Ranthane route on the fuselage as Carl had used an automotive gray primer prior to the finish dope colors which began to peel, hence the use of the Ranthane would have a good base with regard to the auto primer.
The 90 Franklin has been removed from the airframe and sits on a engine stand waiting to be rejoined to it’s longtime companion, the wooden airframe. With only 10.5 hours since an extensive major the Franklin looks to be in great shape.One item that was included with the airplane when donated was a brand new Aeromatic prop set up for the little Cadet with the paperwork all signed off, this should make for a great little performer when up and flying.
A little history on the Cadet,
Another product of Al Mooney’s fertile mind and one of his more popular machines to come out of the late 1930′s early 40′s. Approx 375-380 were manufactured. Production started in Port Columbus, Ohio and when Walter Beech became involved, production was relocated to Wichita, Kansas. Production continued until the military saw the potential for the wooden airframe use as a drone. The Cadet was slightly modified with a tricycle gear and radio control equipment and many were built for one purpose and that was to be shot out of the sky!
First production machines carried the A-75-8 or -9 Continental and with the light airframe the Cadet performed admirably, cruising at 120-125 mph on 4.5-5 gallons hour. Later airframes were pulled around with the smooth running Franklin 80 and 90hp engines. Although there was a slight bump in horsepower, the Franklin powered machines were heavier due to their full electrical systems. Performance wasn’t any better but the little airplane was more useful and practical with a starter, generator, optional lights and radio options.
Today I would guess there are probably less than fifty Cadets flying, possibly less maybe more with another 20 or so being restored or stored in barns. Here in Concrete we have kind of a niche thing with Al Mooney`s designs, presently we have in the collection two Mooney Mites (a C & L model), two Cadets (a LFA and a LCA), a Dart with Lambert power, three Culver V’s, one restored and flying and two projects, a Clip wing Dart project with Warner 165 power coming in June and two other mites and an LFA Cadet in a neighboring hangar.
As you can see here in Concrete we are on the constant lookout for termites!! None to date .
Watch for museum updates on our ongoing Mooney collection and other interesting aircraft.
With the end of WWII insight the fertile mind of Al Mooney was once again at work coming up with his next wooden wonder, for it`s time the Culver “V” and the “V” stood for “Victory” was a revolutionary little Speedster which owed much of its design basis from the earlier and successful Cadet series and the drones built during WWII.Al Mooney had the private flyer in mind when the development of the “V” began to take shape, some of the “V”s features were very advanced for 1946, and they included the now infamous “Simpli-Fly” flight control system. The system was designed and patented with a coupling of the pitch and flap controls which would allow the Pilot to select any mode of flight, with a rather large trim wheel between the seats and this being cable connected to a panel mounted indicator this in turn allowed the pilot select Takeoff, Climb, Cruise, Approach and Land.
“Simple” was the word used most often by Culver in their advertisements promoting the new Model “V”, if there was one thing the Model “V” wasn`t was simple, the new Culver turned out to be a rather complex little airplane, retractable tricycle gear, variable pitch prop, fuel injected engine and Simpli-Fly!Construction was of the new “plastic bonded plywood” and this was for the entire airframe with only the cowling, landing gear and control system being of either aluminum, steel tube with even some magnesium thrown in for the cowling cheeks on certain serial numbers.
Powering this wooden marvel was the new Fuel Injected Continental C-85-12FJ and having this power converted to thrust was a novel “Sensenich Skybade hydraulic two position prop, again not all was simple but was rather intriguing to the pilots coming out of WWII or the novice pilot looking to buy a fast, two place fairly advanced airplane.Unfortunately the performance of this complex little machine did not live up to the manufactures claims, with an empty weight of 1050 lbs. and a gross of 1600 lbs. even with the “Sensenich Skyblade” turning up to redline, takeoffs and climbs were lengthy and that was on a good day, though once airborne and the correct setting was chosen such as climb the “V” had a very nice feel , upon reaching your cruise altitude you would be trimming the airplane with the big trim wheel to the cruise mode.In the cruise mode the “V” flew very well and would scoot along at about 115 mpg burning 5 gallons an hour. Now came your next mode of flight, glide and decent again selected by the trim wheel and with a flick of the panel mounted gear switch, the electrically powered gear popped out into the slip stream in less than five seconds.With the Simpli-fly set for approach and the 25 Square feet of slotted flaps out your speed had to be watched, 70-75 mph was a good range, and it must be noted that with the simpli-fly set for approach/ land there is a very limited amount of up elevator travel for flare, with this in mind your round out and flare should be near the ground. Mind you with up travel limited the “V” was almost stall proof.With your successful flight in the “V” behind you, one has to wonder how this complex and unique little machine came to be.
Possibly or what if the design had been crafted from aluminum, a more powerful power plant was available in the four cylinder class and a few of the advanced features were left out, would the Model “V” have been more successful? I doubt it for the period the airplane became available.One must remember all of the a/c that were new designs following WWII, once such design, the beautiful Globe Swift was direct competitor along with other all metal designs. Al Mooney was a very innovative designer, he was accustomed to crafting all of his designs of wood, and using minimal power with a small airframe Al achieved unheard of cruise speeds for the installed power during a time when the 65-85hp machines were 10-30 slower.The Culver Model “V” even with its unique quirks and design flaws must be appreciated for what it is, a neat, compact design trying to be far ahead of its time.
Our Culver “V” comes to us through a very interesting person named Pat Donovan , Pat a retired United Captain owned a Culver during his college days in Hawaii ( late 1950`s), having survived flying the “V” for a few years Pat went onto bigger and better equipment, such as his beautifully restored Lockheed 12. I believe with Pat entering the retirement years (2001) and finding the Lockheed a little too much for jaunting around the Pacific N.W. Pat began his search for the old Hawaii Culver “V” and amazingly enough finding it state side under his nose in Washington state, to make a long story even longer, Pat was unable to purchase his old mount, but low and behold Captain Carl Badgett of Culver Cadet fame enters the pipeline.Somehow Pat found Carl and Carl`s “V” project found Pat, Viola! Pat had a “V”. In between Pat decides to buy a Vineyard in New Zealand, wow that`s a long trip for a “V” but it would be in a container and New Zealand would be the place where the little Culver would get some much needed attention.Pat contracted with a gentlemen in New Zealand to do most of the work to bring the “V” back to her former glory, Carl Badgett had worked his magic with the required woodwork and Pat`s mechanic did most of the covering ,painting, cockpit work and installation of the complicated “Simpli-fly” control system and final assy. To Pat`s dismay, New Zealand after a number of years just wasn`t what he wanted, well what is one to do with a 95% completed Culver “V” and a 1938 Lockheed 12, we`ll Pat did the correct thing, he again containerized the “V” and shipped it to Washington, the Lockheed 12, he flew it home via Honolulu, a trip we will hopefully get Pat to write about in the future, he is an amazing man.
Now were does my interest come from in re: to the Model “V” Culver for the Museum, I have loved all of the Al Mooney/Culver designs for years and have owned and flown a few of them, with the Late Harold Hanson looking for “Unique” machines for his ever growing collection Harold’s purchases a “V” from guess who? Carl Badgett, Carl had a hanger full of Culvers during the late 90`s and into 2000, well according to Harold one “V” wasn`t enough, we should have spares for this rare airplane Jim, along comes e-bay and Harold finds two more projects in Oklahoma, guess where my son and I are off too? You guessed it Oklahoma.The two “V” projects are very complete and the price was good, but the wood was marginal on one a/c. So back in Concrete we`re sitting here looking at three Culver “V”`s, what is one to do? Has a match anybody?? Time seems to escape us here at the Museum, projects come, airplanes get restored and flown and then there is a pile of 60 year old wood, the Model “V”s.Time line 2012 rushes into our lives and so does one Pat Donovan, Pat has a 1928 Cessna AW project he wishes to trade for our Baby Ace aircraft, the Museum needs a few more “early” machines to help carry out our “Vintage “theme, we end up with the Cessna AW, but, while picking up the AW project from Pat, words are muttered would we be interested in a restored Culver “V”?? Hmmmm.
Four Culver “V”s, oh my god we`re crazy but and I mean but here sits a fully restored all original Culver “V” ready to go? Guess what? We make another trade for a Morgan Roadster we just happen to have that Pat would love to have and a few dollar bills included.Enter Culver “V” NC8442B S/N V-98 (Formerly NC80057)Jim gets the opportunity to fly the “V” with Pat Donavan in December of 2012, Pat ask how much do I weigh, 215 lbs. is my answer, Pat rattles off he`s 210 lbs. or something and says will put in 10 gallons of fuel, this thing is no ball of fire he quips, no problem, we get her cranked up and amble over to the pumps at Arlington.Now with about 15 gallons of 100 octane in our bladders we crank up and work our way to the run up area with Pat crackling in my headset that you don`t ask for this machine to do too much, you set the Simpli-Fly to takeoff, push the power lever full forward and let the Aeromatic do its thing. Well let me tell you, Pat was correct, just let it roll and roll and roll and after about 3000` just give it a hint of up elevator, I would like to say we screamed for the heavens but it was more like 200-300 fpm climb and I must admit to have never crossed the opposite end of a runway so low on takeoff, but with the gear tucked up we were off and at 200` I started dialing in the climb mode which brought up some flap which helped clean up the airplane, climb actually went to 400fpm at one point.Ah we`re finally at 2000` and dialed into cruise mode and screaming along at 115mph, 2450 revs with the Aeromatic doing its thing bringing the manifold pressure with in limits. Surprise!! What a delightful little machine to fly, controls were perfect, not twitchy, not sluggish just right.It`s 1946 all over again, but for me at 57 years old, 9 years newer than the “V” I`m enjoying something I might not have ever experienced if we still had to restore our three “V”s into one airplane. With less than a dozen “V”s left flying Pat Donovan needs to be commended for following through with the Culver “V” restoration, she has her short comings , but she now sits with the rest of our collection, flown on cool days for others to see and enjoy thanks to her genius designer, Al Mooney .
Anybody want to buy a Culver “V” project? We have three for sale!
Few things are quite as exciting around here than when a new airplane joins the collection. Throughout the summer Jim came across a handful of interesting airplanes that not only would fit perfectly into our museum, but also happened to be looking for new homes. The first of those airplanes we managed to acquire is an airplane that will be familiar to many pilots in the Puget Sound area, a Stinson SM-8A that has been giving rides out of Harvey Field for many years.
The Stinson Junior was a slightly smaller version of the company’s popular six seat Detroiter. The Junior had seating for four and was squarely aimed at the private owner. The original Juniors came with a relatively small 110 horsepower Scarab engine, but the more popular models would come out later with 200+ horsepower engines from Lycoming and Wright.
Our Junior is serial number 4302, an SM-8A model with a Lycoming R680-17. The SM-8A came out in early 1930 and sold very well thanks to its low price tag of just $5,775. In the middle of the Great Depression, the Junior was considered a very good value and offered a 100 miles per hour airplane with features found on airplanes twice the price.
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, Stinson SM-8A
Our Pietenpol Sky Scout has been a background project for a few years now, but has received some regular attention the past few months. We’ve made some progress with the landing gear including acquiring some new covers for the spoke wheels. We have some new springs on the way and once we get the tires installed and the tail skid, we will have to check the airplane on the ground to make sure the gear provides the proper attitude.
Once we have the landing gear figured out, the next step will be to put the fuselage in a level flight attitude and put the wings on the fuselage so we can build out the cabane style wing struts.
The last piece getting some work done is the ash engine mount for our air/oil cooled Model A engine that we plan on powering our Sky Scout. Originally the Sky Scout was designed to use the less expensive and older Model T engine (back in the early 1930s) as an inexpensive, single-seat alternative to its big brother, the Air Camper.
So with the Model A engine, our Sky Scout will be a real hot rod, maybe even cruising over 60 mph!
Above you can see the spacious cockpit in the Sky Scout and part of the engine mount. Should be a real fun plane to fly once we get it finished.
, Sky Scout
Well despite the lack of updates here on the website, we’ve been busy the past several weeks in the hangar. Work continues on the Bulldog, as well as on the newly polished Cessna 120. But our new Fairchild 22 has received some care over the summer and is on its way to receiving a cosmetic overhaul as well as a few changes under the covers.
When we acquired the Fairchild 22 last winter, it was a great addition to our existing Fairchild line. Like both of our previous Fairchild’s, a PT-19 and a F24, the F22 arrived in good shape, with just a few things needing attention. Of course once you get the airplane in the hangar to take care of those small things, it seems worthwhile to attend to a few other small details. And down the rabbit hole you go.
Actually it hasn’t been too bad. The main thing we wanted to touch up was finishing the edges on the sheet metal work. We ended up making new landing gear shock strut fairings that blend in to the top of the wheel pants. We also added a fairing for the wing strut to the fuselage and landing gear.
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Tags: Fairchild 22
Despite a lack of updates here on the website, work continues progressing on the Bulldog. It’s been a busy summer with a handful of airshows and other airplanes that need attention, but the one constant here in the maintenance hangar is constant progress on the Hall Springfield Bulldog.
One of the tricky parts for Jim, is that there aren’t any actual plans for the Bulldog. As we’ve discussed before, much of the fabrication has to be figured out from either a handful of old photos (some from newspapers that unfortunately weren’t taken with the idea that somebody would be using them to reconstruct this air racer some 80 years later), or from Jim’s decades of experience and the stories and help he’s been able to collect about how airplanes were built back in the early 1930s.
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Tags: Hall Springfield Bulldog
The 2012 edition of the North Cascades Vintage Fly-In was another great get together of pilots and vintage airplanes from around the pacific northwest. Despite some cloudy weather on Friday, a decent number of early arrivals spent the night here at 3W5. On Saturday the weather was back to the July sunshine and more than 100 airplanes took part this year.
As always we had a strong showing of Canadian pilots coming down from British Columbia as well as pilots from around Washington, Oregon and elsewhere in the region. One of the local newspapers stopped by and wrote up a short story on the fly-in here.
Well we’re happy to say that we enjoyed another great Arlington Fly-In here in the beautiful pacific northwest. And this year’s fly-in was a big moment for us as we announced our new name, the North Cascades Vintage Aero Museum, and our plans to move to a new home at the Arlington Airport.
The decision to make the major changes to the museum have been under discussion for while now, but in the end we decided that the change will help us to reach a much wider audience and share the vision of our founder to share the airplanes with as many as possible.
When Harold Hansen founded the museum, he wanted to share his love of airplanes with others, and he wanted to create a retreat for pilots and aviation fans. The airport in Concrete has been our home since the beginning, and everybody who visits comments on the natural beauty surrounding us. But the remote location has its drawbacks. We are well off the beaten path for most visitors to the Puget Sound region, and during the winter the highway closes just up the road and our visitors drop to just a handful.
Moving to the Arlington Airport means we will be just an hour north of Seattle and much closer to other aviation museums in the region, including both Paul Allen’s and John Sessions’ collections at Paine Field as well as the Boeing factory less than 20 minutes away.We believe that Harold would have taken advantage of the same opportunity to share his passion for vintage airplanes with even more people.
We will also have a large base of local pilots and aviation enthusiasts who have already expressed an interest in supporting and helping the museum in the future.
The move will take time, and we don’t yet have a date set for when we will relocate. We are looking at some space on the west side of the airport and are working on some designs for a new display hangar and restoration shop that will give us the opportunity to create a first class museum at the Arlington Airport.
Stay tuned for more updates on the changes as we continue to move forward with our plans. We look forward to even greater things in the future and an opportunity to share our love of flying with an even greater number of people than ever before.
Anybody who has ever decided to polish an airplane probably knows that feeling when you wonder why you ever decided to start. Well we are past the point of no return with our little Cessna 120 and it is looking better and better every day. There has been countless hours (we actually stopped counting) put into a project that at first was just going to fix a few little things on the airplane. Now most of the airplane has been disassembled and piece by piece it is turning into a great looking polished aluminum vintage airplane.
The Fuselage is mostly done, and lately much of the work has focused on the tail, doors and cowling. The challenge on the tail surfaces are the ridges that mean you can’t just make nice sweeping passes over an area. Instead care has to be taken to work around each fold in the aluminum, but the end result is great.
The doors are looking good as well, as is the cowling. There was a fair amount of work needed on the cowling to get it back into good shape, so now we are busy sanding the roughed up metal down to a polish as can be seen in the picture below.
With summer on its way, and a few other projects always rotating through the front burner, we’re not sure when the 120 will be back in the air. But we’re very excited to get it flying again and get a chance to show off its new polished look.
Tags: Cessna 120
Sometimes an opportunity comes along that is too good to pass up. That was the case with the museum’s newest airplane, a Fairchild F24R. With a Ranger engine tucked beneath the long cowling, the F24R joins our growing lineup of Fairchild aircraft including the Fairchild 22 we acquired last fall, the PT-19 that has been in the collection for quite a while, and our Warner powered 1938 F24G.
The Fairchild airplanes are a delight to fly with the solid feel of push-rod connections between pilot and flight control surfaces. Like the F24G, the F24R was one of the premier cabin cruisers of the 1930s and 1940s. Our F24R is a 1946 model built during the post-war boom (and soon to be bust) of general aviation. The airplane is in good flyable condition, but will need a restoration at some point if it wants to look as good as its F24G sibling.
Both the Fairchild PT-19 and F24R use the Ranger inverted straight six-cylinder, 441 cubic inch engine. We acquired the F24R with a complete second Ranger engine, a very useful bonus as we have three different Ranger powered aircraft (our Grumman Widgeon is one of the few still flying with Ranger power).
The original F24 came out in 1932 and was powered by a four-cylinder Cirrus engine producing just 95 horsepower. Eventually the seven-cylinder radial Warner Scarab and the six-cylinder Rangers would be the dominant engines for the four-seat airplane.
Our new F24R was the second to the last model 24 Fairchild produced after nearly 2,000 rolled off the assembly line.
Tags: Fairchild F24