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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedPretty pair of cruisers
By Randy Dufault, EAA AirVenture Today

Photo by Jim Labre
Lorrain and Ken Morris with the two Carter Cadets.

July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, WisconsinBack in the 1980s Gene Morris owned a Culver Cadet—but then let it go. He never lost his affection for the little bird, however, and although he no longer owned one he was often adamant, particularly with his pilot daughter-inlaw: if she had a chance to fly a Cadet she would never go back to her favorite Cessna 140.

A few months ago Lorraine Morris got her chance to fly a Cadet when she and her husband Ken Morris finished the restoration of their 1941 Culver. And last week she got a chance to spend quite a bit of quality Cadet time while flying Gene’s new Cadet, a freshly restored 1941 Continental-powered LCA, to Oshkosh. Although she has no plans to give up the Cessna, she admits the little side-by-side two seater is fun to fly.

Lorraine flew NC34791 here from Westlake, Texas, one of a pair of identically painted blue and yellow Cadets here in the first row of Vintage parking. Gene was planning to fly the airplane himself, but a broken foot required a change in plans.

The other Cadet, NC34895, is Lorraine and Ken’s restoration, a 1941 LFA version originally powered with a Franklin engine though now sporting a Continental. Ken flew it here from their base in Poplar Grove, Illinois.

Gene’s memories of the Cadet prompted the two-year two-airplane project. “We heard about this one for sale along with another project we were interested in,” Lorraine said. “We thought we could convince [Gene] to buy this one and we would get the other project, but he said no.”

“We went ahead and bought both projects. He started helping us restore this one and decided he needed to have one after all,” she added.

When the time came for planning paint schemes and interiors it just seemed to the Morrises that making both planes the same would be a good idea. The art deco design is well documented as a deluxe option offered by the Culver factory. The only differences are some slight variations on the bellies, a part of the airframe for which no historical records or plans exist.

Designed by Al Mooney, the Cadet was a very fast and efficient design for its day. Powered by the same engines as the high-wing two seaters of the day like the Piper Cub, a Cadet with its better than 120 mile per hour cruise speeds certainly would win any cross-country race.

A big part of the cruise efficiency comes from Mooney’s mechanically retractable main landing gear design, a feature almost unheard of for airplanes in the Cadet’s category and price range. While the purely human-driven retraction and extension mechanism is extremely reliable, according to Ken it really requires three-and-a-half hands to fly the airplane while raising and lowering the gear. Ten turns of a large wheel in front of the seat—requiring both hands—are required for retraction.

While gravity helps with extension, that process requires both hands too.

Although both airplanes actively flew after leaving the factory, logbooks and research show both only have about 1,000 hours total time.

For perspective Cadet restorer Ken says the task is not particularly difficult but one must be willing to put time into the project.

”This is an inexpensive go somewhere airplane,” Ken said, “a fast, cheap cruiser.”

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