Saga of Cadet NC-37381
by Robert L. Taylor
Interstate Cadet S-IA, NC-37381, was one of ten Cadets owned and operated by the Probert-Devine Aviation Corporation at Whiteman Airpark near Pacoima. California. This airport is still in operation and familiar to many pilots on the West Coast.
Dick Probert was and still is a widely known and respected aviation "Old Timer". During the early "forties" he was a principal in the Arlen-Probert Flying Service at the Van Nuys Metropolitan Airport. Richard Arlen was a movie star with several aviation feature films to his credit. Some were filmed at the Metro Airport.
After WW II ended Dick Probert was looking for a good location to establish a new flying school along with another well known movie star. Andy Devine. In the middle of 1946 they purchased the school, equipment, including the fleet of Interstates from Marvin Whiteman. the developer of Whiteman Airpark.
Dick Probert had soloed Andv Devine on December 2. 1941, but obviously Divine's further progress was interrupted by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor five days later. Andy returned to flying after the Probert-Devine Aviation Corporation was established in 1946 at Whiteman Airpark.
The ten "Cadets" were operated for four years until 1950 or at least being used in 1946 were as follows: NC-28313. 37212, 37219, 37240, 37248. 37271, 37291, 37330, 37381 and 37445. Probert-Devine also operated two Fairchild PT-19s.
My logbook of that period shows that I flew all ten of these Cadets but soloed in NC-37381 on December 5. 1946. This logbook calls the location as Newhall but we always called it Saugus, which was originally used as an airline emergency field prior to WW II and had only a small C.A.A. communication building on it. The Saugus field was often used prior to WW 11 when the Union Air Terminal (later Lockheed Air Terminal) was fogged in and passengers bussed down to their destination. We have seen mention of it being used by the U.S.A.A.F. early in WW II.
My instructor of that period was Dale Housel and his kids, several of them as I recall attended a school across the river from the Saugus Airport and he was often inclined to fly down the adjoining river gully and let his kids know that daddy was at work. Dale loved to buzz lots of things like sea lions on the rocks while we were returning from a dual X-C to Santa Barbara.
We often had dual with Dale when he took along his "brown bag" lunch and would utilize the bag with leftovers to beat me on the head when I was doing something stupid While his buzzing and flat hating very likely was not approved by either Dick Probert or the C.A.A. of those days. He did teach me some basics about buzzing that has kept me out of trouble for many years now. For instance, never look down and back while making a snappy fly-by and pull up. It leads to snappy stalls and spins.
Over 20 years ago we made contact with George McKee of Hollywood California. Somehow he found out that I had soloed in NC-37381 and offered to sell it in a disassembled state to me along with three more plus parts of other Cadets. I purchased the lot and the late Dave Warren picked them up and hauled them back to Antique Airfield. I gave Dave all the other ones for making the trip. I didn't realize until recently that NC-3733() was possibly in that batch and it was also one of the Cadets 1 flew at Probert-Devine in 1946.
Sometime later I turned the rebuild of NC-37381 over to Toby Tobiason who was then living in Kansas City, Kansas. His own first Cadet with a 90 Franklin was winning awards all over the Flv-In circuit.
Since I had acquired L-6 wings with the project Toby and I first talked about modifying NC-37381 to a big engine and utilizing the L-6 wings. Toby made a career move to Texas about then and hauled the restored fuselage back to Antique Airfield.
After some swapping wings I finally ended up with some stock S-IA wings with some crushed ribs. Again some scrounging and rib transplants and a new spar by Jeff Claypool then of our Antique Airfield staff moved the project forward.
Toby again took on the job of completing the restoration of NC-37381 picking it up April of 1995 and as of this writing I await the installation of mags overhauled by Earl Adkisson and paper work by Brent Taylor to put NC-37381 back in the air.
A C-85 that came with the McKee deal turned out to need major surgery but those extra 20 horses plus the Bodell wheels and brakes modification will be an upgrade from my last time in it some 50 years ago. I last flew NC-37381 on February 4, 1947. I am looking forward to flying it again.