Interstate Cadet 37345, the aircraft noted in Cornelia’s logbook, has been lost to the winds of time. Its FAA registration was cancelled in 1955 with only a statement block checked in the FAA records of “permanently retired from service.” That airframe, Interstate Cadet Serial number 188, has not resurfaced.
Interstate 37266 was almost lost to history. It spent many years flying in Hawaii with registration renewals to Hawaiian residents through 1979. In 1983, it was registered to a Texas resident, and somewhere around that time, returned to the continental United States. During its time under ownership of an Arizona resident who passed away, the legend of its history, along with rumors of more detailed logbooks, was separated from the airframe and Interstate Cadet, Serial number 109, simply became an old aircraft in dis-repair trapped in an estate sale. The logbooks most likely went to the dump with no fanfare, and no appreciation for the story they told. And eventually, the airframe ended up in a pile of Interstate Cadet parts that was purchased by the premier Interstate Cadet pilot and Interstate Cadet expert, Kent Pietsch. In going through the pile of parts, Kent Pietsch found the serial number “109” stamped on one of the main structural members on one of the airframes in the pile. His knowledge of the Interstate fleet allowed him to recognize that unbeknownst to either him or the seller, he had purchased the aircraft that verbal legend claimed was being flown by Cornelia Fort in Hawaii on 7 December, 1941. Being a believer of this story, Kent had the aircraft restored. Having this aircraft restored also resurrected the dispute amongst historians as to which Interstate Cadet Cornelia was flying. After restoration by Tim Talen at Ragwood Refactory, the aircraft was purchased by myself, Greg Anders, with intent to find the truth of the facts in the hopes of either validating the legend, or validating Cornelia’s logbook and thus resolving the dispute. My interest in this plane was fueled by my job as Executive Director of the Heritage Flight Museum, a flying museum at Skagit-Bayview Airport (KBVS), north of Seattle (www.heritageflight.org).