Like a Monkey on a Stick
In the January 1984 issue of Sport Aviation, Karl White, the designer of the Curtiss-Wright CW-1 Junior, recalls the genesis of the airplane:
“It started in 1930, when the Curtis-Wright Corporation absorbed a number of other companies, among them the Moth Co. where I was Chief Engineer. I was moved to the Robertson plant near St Louis, which was to become the commercial airplane unit of the corporation. Walter Beech of Travel Air fame was President. He immediately assigned me the task of designing “a two-seat light airplane that would have enough gas to get off a field and fly the girlfriend around a little, and sell for less than $1500.”
After some unsatisfying early flight tests, White reworked the project, in close collaboration with Beech and test pilot H. Lloyd Child, to become the CW-1 "Junior”. First flight took place on October 5, 1930.
The Type Certificate for the production design (ATC#397), powered by a 45 hp three cylinder Szekely engine, was issued on January 31, 1931.
Priced at $1490 flyaway St Louis, the Curtiss-Wright Junior was a two-place open cockpit parasol monoplane, its pusher engine mounted on top of the wing.
Easy to buy, easy to fly and cheap to operate, the CW-1 soon became just about the most popular Flivver of the early 30's.
Owned by Paul Seibert of Sonoma, California, Curtiss-Wright CW-1 c/n 1140 is one of the few surviving flying examples. Accepted on May 25, 1931 at the Robertson factory, it was fitted with the 45 hp Szekely SR3-0 engine s/n 981 and a two bladed left hand screw Flottorp wooden propeller, and registered as NC10962.
By June of 1940, the Curtiss had clocked 548 hours total time, and was still sporting its original engine, which might be a record for a Szekely.
In August 1955, Thomas Bowles, brother of John Bowles, the owner at the time, restored the airplane to flying status, installing a Continental A-65 engine fitted with a new Sensenich propeller.
Coming out of the shop in a better-than-new state, it was then sold to John Fitspatrick of Emmetsburg, Iowa, on June 1, 1956, and, eventually, to Henry Casper of Dixon, Illinois.
With pride in his voice, Paul Seibert takes the rest of the story over:
“I bought the Junior sight unseen. About a year ago, it came up for sale, and my friend Ron Price called me to let me know. The airplane was in Dixon, Illinois. Henry Casper, its long time owner, had passed away 12 years ago, after selling it. The airplane had been disassembled and stored since, awaiting an owner who never came.
With the help of a great mechanic based at the airport, Ron Price and I put it back together, test flew it and flew it to Brodhead, Wisconsin.”
Ever since he was a child, Paul Seibert showed some interest in aviation:
“I live in Sonoma, California, but I grew up as an airport kid in Ohio. All my life, I have been around airplanes, and made a living working in aviation. I graduated from the Parks Air College A & P School in 1955 and from their Maintenance and Engineering College in 1962.
I learned to fly in a Cub, got my private license in a PA-18, owned a TriPacer for a while and a Piper Vagabond, and enjoyed for a time a 160hp Lycoming powered Monocoupe. At the moment, I am restoring a 1929 Fleet model 1, with a Warner engine.”
For the moment, he enjoys flying his flivver around the Wisconsin farmland:
“It is a very easy airplane to fly. Engine starting procedure is pretty much standard for a Continental 65. The visibility is outstanding on the ground and in the air. The airplane only has tires as shock absorbers, and taxiing on grass can be a little bumpy.
The technique that I use for take off is, I just pick up the tail as soon as possible in order to see over the nose, and let the plane accelerate to about 50 mph. When it starts feeling light, I gently lift off in ground effect, accelerate to 60 mph and climb in a relatively flat attitude.
For cruise, I set the engine at 2150 rpm, which gives me some 65 mph ground speed, depending on the wind conditions and the load.
The horizontal stabilizer is only adjustable on the ground to compensate for the pilot weight, so, unless you adjusted it right on, it is either slightly climbing or diving. However, elevator control pressures are light, so flying out of trim is not really a problem. The Junior has a big rudder that requires some effort, but it acts in a very conventional way.
Ailerons are way out on the wings, and on the heavy side, which is characteristic for a late 20's airplane. Due to its long wing, the rate of roll is slow and, in rough air it can be uncomfortable.
With its light wing loading, it has the tendency to bounce and is sensitive to wind. Bob Taylor, Founder the Antique Airplane Association refers to flying in rough air in the Junior as “holding a monkey on a stick”.
In the pattern, once opposite the intended landing spot, I power back to 1200/1300 rpm, while maintaining 60 mph on base and final.
I like to carry a little power over the fence. In the flare, I pull the power off, while holding the airplane off, just like a glider, and let it settle down flat in a three-point attitude.
It lands very short, and directional control is excellent down to taxi speed. The brakes are seldom needed, but they are very efficient.
It is a wonderful airplane on grass.”
Paul Seibert future plans for the Junior are very simple:
“As long as the Junior will be flyable, I will come back to Brodhead for the summer and fly the airplane.”
By Gilles Auliard