Dear Robert, Brent, and all the folks at AAA:
Thanks for the kind letter you sent with my membership card and greetings, I should have joined long ago. Better late than never!
I will be flying my Interstate from Frazier Lake CA (1C9) with fellow AAA member Jerry Impellezzeri in his 41 Taylorcraft BC-12D to the Invitational in August. I can't wait for the adventure, and meeting all the great folks at the event.
A little history on myself and Interstate N28329 #17. Got my private in 1977 flying Cherokee's and 172's. Got a little tired of the "point A to point B" flying and languished for something more. I moved to northern CA a few years later and visited Fremont Airport (now closed) and for the most part all the aircraft were Aeroncas, Taylorcrafts, Stinsons, Cubs and a few "spam cans". During the winter the airport and runway would occasionally flood a few inches and on this particular day I saw a L2 making a run at the temporary lake down the runway, dipping a wheel in and sending back a rooster tail of water back about 4 feet. I said to myself that looks like real flying! Signed up for tail wheel instruction on the spot, and have been a tail dragger fabric low & slow guy ever since!
I restored a 11BC Chief flew it a number of years; then as so often in life, events happened and I had to park my flying and sell my beloved bird. But fear not, 10 years into my hiatus from flying, a friend from my flying days called and asked if i would come visit him at his new hangar at Frazier Lake airport and see some of his projects. It was a bittersweet vist. Lonnie was finishing up a resto on a Travelair 2000 and what a beautiful bird she was.He was also doing a annual on a Interstate Cadet, and he said "come on jump in and we'll go around the patch a few times." Lonnie said "you taxi and fly it and I'll follow you". I was a little rusty to say the least. Never before had I felt so much a part of a plane as I did in that Interstate. What a pure joy to fly! I told Lonnie If ever I could afford to get back into GA I want an Interstate!
Now 8 years later the same friend called and asked if I would come and check out his new project. Once again he had done a beautiful restoration on a J-3 Cub. I asked him about the Interstate I had flown and he reported it had been sold. I then recalled meeting a fellow low & slow guy by the name of Bill Mette some 20 years previous at the Merced Fly In. Bill had told me that he owned an Interstate project, and that this particular Cadet was owned by a Navy lieutenant who was teaching students In the Civil Pilot Training program in Hawaii "on the side," and was In the air with a student when Pearl harbor was attacked. That stuck in my memory! With help from Lonnie I was able to find Bill at a local "QB" meeting and I worked out a deal to purchase the War veteran Cadet
Interstate N28329 #17 was "drafted" into Navy service soon after the attack on Peal Harbor and flew over 30 "Official Navy Business" missions including submarine searches, search and rescue, medical emergencies Army photo ops, even a observation flight with a Army General (Puunene Naval Air Station was jointly used with the Army). It was painted three times during service in "Naval wartime camouflage" with "Stars and Bars" appropriate for the time.
In 1945 the Cadet was shipped to the San Francisco bay area and sold to a local flying club. They flew it for about 4 months and on a training flight experienced an engine failure and was extensively damaged on landing. It never flew again until February 2012.
After I purchased the project, I spent one year almost to the day restoring the Cadet, a bit of "nose to the grindstone" so to speak. With help from Lonnie Autry, Doug Metcalf, and Tim Talen I have a wonderful flying Cadet with about 250 hours already since restoration.
Thanks again, see you in August! Kevin Brown.
Interstate Cadet flight from StinsonBlueWagon on Vimeo.