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Old Nov 27, 2015, 02:05 PM
guitarmarc is offline
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Berkeley Interstate Cadet conversion.

I don’t ebay much at all. But when I do, I only look for a couple of specific and oddball items, like parts for my 1985 Nissan truck (another hobby) or model airplane kits. I don’t really collect kits, I just like to have an interesting ‘building que’ to mull over as I finish up my current project. Yes, lately the que has been stocked a little better than in the past, but it is still a que, and not a ‘hoard’.

Yesterday, I won an ebay auction for a 36 inch span Berkeley Interstate Cadet. I am going to start a build thread today to share my ideas about how to build a classic Berkeley kit into a sweet little park flyer.

As I come back to flying, I have found myself drawn to the small airplanes, and I can tell you why that is. Problem is, once I do, you will know that I am probably a bit farther out than even you are about all of this model airplane stuff. You see, as I walked my paper route for two hours a day as a kid, I daydreamed about my little Guillows airplanes flying all around me- under my control. It is one of my most enduring and pleasant memories from my youth, that idea of my crude little Thomas Morse Scout flying wherever I put it in the sky. It is a vivid memory because this was about 1958, and full proportional radios were only a rumor then. The flight pack for a 10 channel Kraft reed type radio weighed about as much as a toaster oven.

I flew models as a kid, with my dad and his best friend, Ted Parsons. Dad could get an airframe built and flying in no time, Ted took forever. Dad’s airplanes flew great and looked okay. Ted’s models made you stop and look at things in brand new ways. His work, to my mind, still has no equal. I haven’t seen a ton of top end AMA scale airframes, but among the ones I have admired, well Ted could build to that level, no problem.

When we were very young, the Parsons family and our fairly would all load up the station wagons with flying machines and kids and drive over to a pasture where we were allowed to toss our little airplanes skyward with great hope. Other flyers went there too, and on any given nice weekend, the cow pasture might be dotted with family blankets, picnic baskets, and running hoards of screaming kids, chasing after a small buzzing speck overhead. I was one of those kids.

Ted Parsons built several Berkeley kits just for these outings, and to entertain the kids while he and Dad tried to sort out the unfathomable- Radio Control!

One of these airplanes was a Berkeley Aeronca Sedan that we named ‘Mudgy’. Mudgy had a Pee Wee 020, with a 6x3 nylon prop, mounted backwards. The engine was already tired and we ran it rich anyway. Every kid got a turn to start and launch Mudgy, and, no doubt about it, Mudgy saw this as a prime opportunity to sink her claws in deep. Several of those laughing, launching boys became lifelong modelers. I am one.

In the interim, I have built and flown in many different categories, operating at a level somewhere between Ted Parsons... and my dad. I like building almost as much as flying and the ‘fun scale’ approach is where I like to live.

We didn’t know about reynolds numbers, wing loading, weight, airfoils- or anything else back in those days. What we knew was that if you held her right and tossed her gently into the wind with the wings level and the nose climbing ever so slightly, Mudgy would take care of the rest. She flew almost as if under the control of our wishes, as if that were possible.

We would all run yelling and screaming over to the spot where we thought she would land so that we could watch her wheels touch down. In these moments I developed my lifelong opinion that free flight modeling is- and always will be- the most elegant and noble expression of modeling out there. It can’t be beat. If you doubt this opinion, I invite you to search YouTube for the ‘Dave Reese Coconuts’ video.

But, like all human beings, I am selfish and I want to control where the plane goes and what it does. I want to fly it more than I am willing to set it free.

Which gets me back to my ebay auction. Some time around December 4th, Mudgy’s first cousin will arrive at my door, and I will get to revisit my suntanned youth as I fly my Interstate Cadet lazily around the pattern.

Only now, I get to take advatage of all of the developments in minaturized flight packs, cyanoacrylate glues and electric power!

The goals here are to build an old school, silkspan covered floater, just like Mudgy. I want to have a pleasing scale airplane, but it can and should look like a model, and that is fine with me. I want to preserve those beautiful and stately flight characteristics, so I will make every effort to keep it as light as possible. I will re-engineer several aspects of this kit to achieve a lighter airframe that is as strong- or stronger than the original design. And that is where my build thread will focus.

I was so impressed by the childhood stories that others have told here about their favorite Berkeley kit experiences. Hey, I am not looking for competition in the next ebay auction, but I think these Henry Struck designed Berkeley kits were (unknowingly, at the time) custom made for electric r/c conversions. They were the scale national champions of their day (in the case of the Cadet, 1941-46).

I’d like to see a few more of them up in the air.
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Old Nov 27, 2015, 02:40 PM
E-Challenged is offline
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Take a look at Pat Tritle's short kits. He has a number of lightweight scale designs in various sizes that are great flyers based on his free-flight experience. I particularly liked the Cessna 120/140 and the Stinson Reliant. Google "Pat's Custom Models" and "Manzano Laser Works"
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Old Nov 27, 2015, 03:17 PM
gmwahl is offline
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Thank you for starting this build thread and especially thank you for your personal stroll down memory lane. It's amazing the flood of memories that someone else's experiences can bring, and with those memories the emotions, sounds and smells that I experienced back then!
My experiences are very similar. In my childhood I was obsessed with making my comet, Sterling, and guillows kits first and foremost powered by I.C. Engines and secondly guided by the 19.00 single channel pulse radio that I saved up for.
I never got one of the small planes to fly with radio control back then despite trying many times. My first successful single channel was a mini sky squire I believe it was called.
Now, with the cheap micro and mini radio gear, I am like a kid in a candy store and have amassed (hoarded?) about 30 kits from comet, guillows, Sterling and one Berkeley kit (aeronca sedan). Along with those I have printed plans and cut probably another two dozen kits to build at a future time. Hey, at least I have options!
My intention is to build and see everyone of them fly, mostly radio controlled, but who knows, that may be ambitious.
I am going to watch this thread closely. I love seeing the conversion threads for the guillows, comet, and Sterling kits, and come to think of it, I don't recall ever seeing a Berkeley conversion thread. Because of the lack of Berkeley threads, I am really looking forward to hitching along for the ride and watch you put the cadet together.

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Last edited by gmwahl; Nov 27, 2015 at 03:22 PM.
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