Photo by Jim Labre
Lorrain and Ken Morris with the two Carter Cadets.
July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - Back
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
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.”