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Mon, Feb 22, 2010

Aero-TV: Profiles in Aviation – Ed McKeown’s Rearwin Cloudster

Ed McKeown Introduces His Award-Winning Rearwin Restoration

Inspired by the world’s newfound aviation intrigue, Raymond Andrew Rearwin, along with his sons Royce and Ken, started Rearwin Airplanes in 1928.  Bursting into the industry scene during the “Golden Age of Aviation,” the company designed and built more than 400 aircraft before closing in 1946.  

Among the instrument trainers and gliders, Rearwin Airplanes debuted the Rearwin Cloudster in 1939; featuring strut-braced high-wings, the aircraft included an enclosed cabin and fixed, tailskid undercarriage.  Though the Cloudster’s commercial success was poor, the airplane has remained a namesake among antique aviation enthusiasts.

Approximately 124 Rearwin Cloudsters were built, with four variants on the market.  Designed to be a larger, more commanding successor of the Rearwin Sportster, the Cloudster marked the progression from tandem seating to side-by-side seating for Rearwin Airplanes.  

The 8090 and 8125 models featured side-by-side seating, while the 8135 model featured a three-seat arrangement.  Shortly after their debut, an estimated twenty aircraft, designated as 8135T, were modified to tandem seating for Pan Am instrument flying trainers.

Today, an estimated six Rearwin Cloudsters remain airworthy.  One of them, however, to the excitement of enthusiasts, arrived at the 2009 Antique Aircraft Association’s annual gathering.  

Ed McKeown debuted his authentic restoration at the Blakesburg Fly-In nearly 70 years after its first test flight.  Chosen for Chapter Choice at the AAA’s Fly-In, McKeown’s Rearwin Cloudster also won the 2009 Classic Grand Champion and the Rearwin Family Award.



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