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Rearwin Cloudster Lands at EAA


1940 Rearwin Cloudster
A 1940 Rearwin Cloudster is now a part of the EAA museum collection. (Photo courtesy of Hal Bryan)

1940 Rearwin Cloudster
The Rearwin Cloudster donated to EAA by Ed McKeown was marketed as a "baby Howard DGA." (Photo courtesy of Hal Bryan)

November 20, 2012 - An extremely rare aircraft that's been donated to EAA landed at Pioneer Airport last Saturday, November 17. The 1940 Rearwin Cloudster, now a part of the EAA AirVenture Museum collection, was donated to EAA by Ed McKeown, EAA 212386/Vintage 32087, Village of Lakewood, Illinois.

Only 125 Cloudsters were built, and Ed says his (S/N 828) is the only known airworthy example. The Rearwin Model 8135 Cloudster is powered by a 125-hp, seven-cylinder Ken-Royce 7G engine. Dubbed a "baby Howard DGA" in promotional materials, it's a three-seater, with the single rear seat facing sideways. Top speed is 135 mph, with a range of 600 miles from its twin 17-gallon fuel tanks.

It took seven years - from 2003 to 2010 - for Ed and Roger Shadick, owner of Noble Aviation in Eagle River, Wisconsin, to restore the airplane. Most of the parts come from of Nisswa, Minnesota's Frank Hay, from whom Ed acquired the airplane. "It's a very original aircraft, perhaps not the 100 percent best workmanship," Ed described.

After completing the restoration, the first test flight was done by former EAA staffer and Vintage Aircraft Association director Joe Norris of Oshkosh. (Joe also flew the plane's final flight to Oshkosh on November 17.) Once the bugs were worked out, Ed flew it to the Antique Aircraft Association's 2010 fly-in at Blakesburg, Iowa, where he won a first place classic award.

The following year the Cloudster made its first and only visit to AirVenture Oshkosh. Now, with between 50 and 60 hours flown since being restored, it's back for good and is now parked at one of Pioneer's grand Golden Age hangars.

Ed says that he had an opportunity to sell the plane, but after some consideration ultimately opted to donate it to the EAA AirVenture Museum to ensure others could experience it for years to come. Doing so preserves "a good representation of the species," he said.

Although the Cloudster flies beautifully in the air, Ed said, it's a little different animal at low speeds or on the ground due to minimal rudder authority. "It's not as easy (to fly) as a Cub or a Champ," he said.

The plane will be on display this winter in the AirVenture Museum, but long-range plans are for it to be a part of the Pioneer collection.

Read more about this Rearwin Cloudster in a feature story from the October 2010 issue of Vintage Airplane magazine.


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