All of us here at the Skagit Aero Education Museum would like to wish everybody a merry Christmas and happy holidays. We hope Santa’s own antique aircraft continues to run well and both he and you are able to get some enjoyable time in the cockpit in the new year.
As much as we love the grand old airplanes such as the Stinson SR-9C and Fairchild 24, we have a fond place in our hearts for the little planes from yesteryear as well. These airplanes were aimed at pilots looking to have plenty of fun flying, even with some cross country ability, all while keeping a tight budget.
One of the best designers of small, economical airplanes has always been Al Mooney. Long before the efficient M20 series, Mooney was building small, efficient airplanes during the 1930s. There are already quite a few of Al Mooney’s designs in our hangars including a pair of Mites and a few Culver Cadets. So we were very excited when an example of the first of Mooney’s low wing small planes was recently donated to the museum.
The Culver Dart was originally designed by Al Mooney while he was still working for Lambert Aircraft, makers of the Monocoupe airplanes. But after the company ran into financial trouble, Mooney and his Monosport design (as the airplane was then known) were bought by Knight Culver. Together they started building what would eventually be called the Dart.
With its distinctive elliptical wings and a little radial engine out front, the Dart looks like a scale model of a much bigger airplane. Originally equipped with a 90 hp Lambert radial, the Dart was also built with a Ken Royce five-cylinder radial and a Warner Scarab Junior, both producing 90 hp as well.
Our little Dart is a former Grand Champion at Oshkosh and is second oldest Dart known to be flying. With serial #4, it was built while Mooney was still at Monocoupe and is powered by a 266 cubic inch, five-cylinder Lambert radial engine.
Unfortunately, as you can see in the pictures below, the Dart was involved in a hangar fire in 2009 and is in need of a total restoration. The good news is that many of the hard to find parts are restorable, including the original ‘Dart’ instruments.
We’re looking forward to working on the airplane over the winter and will provide updates along the way.
Above of a Culver Dart photo courtesy of San Diego Air & Space Museum.
Below sits our little Dart sadly burned and waiting to fly again.
Getting the Dart ready for the trailer ride up to Concrete.
Wings off, disassembly has begun on our little Dart. Despite the fire, much of the airplane is in good shape.
The cockpit is a little on the sooty side, but many of the original instruments are in good shape.
Firewall forward with the 90hp Lambert.
It’s been several months since we did a photo shoot with our Piper J-5A, but for some reason we never managed to get them up on our website. So after a long delay, and with Christmas around the corner, we finally added some images of our red Cub Cruiser in honor of Santa Claus and his sled.
The J-5A is a great flying airplane with just enough room in the back seat for a pair of kids or adults who are on the small side (and know each other well). It’s an airplane that doesn’t get flown as much as some of the others, but we’ll see if we can fix that problem in the coming new year.