The Culver Cadet was an American two-seat light monoplane aircraft, and later a radio-controlled drone, produced by the Culver Aircraft Company.

Design and Development

The aircraft designer Al Mooney developed an improved version of the Culver Dart, to provide improved performance with a smaller engine. Originally designated the Culver Model L the prototype first flew on 2 December 1939. The aircraft was named the Culver Cadet. Although similar to the previous Dart the Cadet had a semi-monocoque fuselage instead of welded-steel-tube and a retractable tailwheel undercarriage. The first variant (the Cadet LCA) was powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A75-8 four-cylinder horizontally-opposed piston engine.

The 1941 version was designated the Cadet LFA and introduced a number of refinements and more equipment, and was fitted with an 90 hp (67 kW) Franklin engine. Production was brought to an end after the United States entered World War II in December 1941, but the Cadet had found export orders, including to Uruguay, and had a new military role.

The Cadet was one of six models that Al Mooney designed during his eight years at Culver. He would leave to found Mooney Aircraft.

Operational History

In 1940 the Cadet LCA was selected by the United States Army Air Corps as being suitable for use as a radio-controlled target. The first aircraft was designated the Culver A-8 (later the XPQ-8) and was based on the Cadet LFA but had fixed tricycle landing gear. After successful tests a production order for 200 was placed, and designated the PQ-8, later another 200 were ordered with a more powerful engine as the PQ-8A. In late 1941 the United States Navy acquired a PQ-8A for evaluation and then ordered 200 in 1941 as the TDC-2. An enlarged and improved version was later built as the Culver PQ-14.

The museum’s Cadet  LFA-90 is S/N 330 with a 90 H.P. Franklin engine.  It’s first flight was in August of 1941 and was flown by several owners for business and pleasure before being donated to the museum in 2014.



  • Cadet LCA
    • Initial production version powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A75-8.
  • Cadet LFA
    • Improved variant with an 80 hp (60 kW) Franklin 4AC-176-F3, Franklin 4AC-176-D2, or Franklin 4AC-176-D3 engine, and a full electrical system and engine starter.
  • Cadet LFA-90
    • Limited edition variant with a 90 hp (67 kW) Franklin 4AC-199-E3 engine.
  • LAR (Army A-8)
    • Initial designation of military radio-controlled drone version, later redesignated PQ-8.
  • LAR-90 (Army PQ-8)
    • Initial production military drone version, 200 built.
  • PQ-8A
    • PQ-8 powered by a 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290 engine, redesignated Q-8A in 1948, 200 built.
  • Q-8A
    • PQ-8A redesignated in 1948.
  • TDC-1
    • One PQ-8 for evaluation by the United States Navy.
  • TDC-2
    • Production version of the PQ-8A for the Navy, 200 built.
  • Aero Systems Cadet STF
    • Plans built “optimized” Cadet design, offered by Aero Systems of La Mesa, California, United States in 2010. The plans call for a wood and steel structure, with a 100 hp (75 kW) Continental O-200 powerplant, producing a cruise speed of 135 mph (217 km/h).

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 17 ft 8 in (5.38 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 0 in (8.23 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
  • Wing area: 120 ft² (11.15 m²)
  • Empty weight: 806 lb (366 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 1,305 lb (592 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Franklin 4AC-176-F3 flat-four piston, 80 hp (60 kw)

Performance (Cadet LFA)

  • Maximum speed: 142 mph (229 km/h)
  • Range: 500 miles (805 km)
  • Service ceiling: 17,000 ft (5180 m)