by Nigel Hitchman

On September 15-17, 2023, the WACO Historical Society held a fly-in at Waco Field to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the famed aircraft manufacturer’s move to Troy, Ohio. The historic airfield is home to the WACO Air Museum, which itself is near the original Waco factory buildings. The event organizers had hoped to see 100 Waco biplanes in attendance, almost twice the number of these beautiful aircraft seen together since the original manufacturer ceased production. Even so, 45 Wacos did fly in for the event, joining the ten examples belonging to the museum, beating the previous record of 52 at the National WACO Club’s 50th-anniversary fly-in at Mount Vernon, Ohio in 2009 – although that event had seen the most flying in from out of town (50).

The Waco factory in Troy, OH. This is an undated photograph from an advertisement.


Waco was formed in 1920 as the Weaver Aircraft Company, following a meeting between businessmen Clayton Bruckner and Elwood Junkin and two pilots, George Weaver and Charlie Meyers, who were all working for Curtiss at the time. They named the company after Weaver since he had a well-known reputation as a flying instructor in the US Army Air Service and later as a barnstormer. They set up shop initially in Lorain, Ohio, but soon moved to Medina, where they designed and built the WACO Cootie, WACO 4, and WACO 5 (a modified Curtiss Jenny) – none of which proved successful. With no orders, they needed new investment. When this was achieved, the company moved to Troy, Ohio, changing its name to the Advanced Aircraft Company following the departure of Weaver (although they still named their products as Wacos). In 1925, Junkin designed their first successful aircraft, the Waco 9. The following year, he began work on the company’s most successful design, the Waco 10, which made its first flight in 1927. More than 1200 Waco 10s were sold, and the design spawned many developments – such as the famous Taperwing aerobatic aircraft.

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In 1929, the company officially renamed itself as the Waco Aircraft Company, remaining in Troy. They proved a successful business, producing numerous sports aircraft and trainers (not to mention 4 and 5-seat cabin aircraft for use as luxury business aircraft or tourers). During WWII, they produced UPF-7 three-seaters for the civilian and military pilot training program. Perhaps their most famous WWII-era product was the CG-4A assault glider, which was a mainstay in a number of combat operations, such as the Normandy invasion. Waco struggled following WWII, with no pre-war models going back into production and just one prototype, the unsuccessful Aristocrat, being built in 1947. After producing non-aviation goods for several years and enduring a corporate takeover, the factory shut its doors for good in 1965, with all assets being sold off, although many of the company’s buildings remain standing. The company’s name lives on now with the Waco Aircraft Company of Battle Creek Michigan, which builds updated variants of the original 1935 Waco YMF-5.

As for the recent fly-in, it featured the debut of the museum’s most recent acquisition, a unique Waco RPT. Waco built the RPT in 1940 to compete in a US Army Air Corps trainer competition, which it didn’t win. The airframe ended up in storage until 1962, when Waco finally sold it. The new owner refurbished it with a Kinner engine, also adding a canopy. The Waco Historical Society received the RPT as a donation a few years ago, although it had been in storage for many years. Museum volunteers spent considerable energy refurbishing the airframe in the days leading up to the fly-in, returning the RPT to its original configuration, which included removing the canopy and installing a Warner engine (albeit one without its internal parts). They also painted the RPT in its original colors, and it looks fabulous!

The WACO Air Museum has some ten aircraft in its collection, along with many photos and memorabilia. One of the aircraft on display is a replica of Waco’s first design, the Cootie. A replica of 1921 WACO 4, the company’s first multi-passenger design, is featured in the museum. Ray Vaughan had begun that particular project in 1974, having also worked on the original back in the 1920s. The museum also has original examples of the Waco 9 and 10 on display.

Photo via Waco Historical Society

Rarest of the visitors was the unique 1934 Waco S3HD N14048 of John Riciotti, this was the only civil version of the “D” series, the rest of which were armed and exported to Nicaragua, Cuba, and Uruguay but none survived. The S3HD was restored by Ernie Webb in the early 60s and shortly thereafter sold to Dick Jackson who owned it for 47 years before selling it to John in 2013. That ’60s restoration lasted well and John has just replaced the fabric on the fuselage and done some other tidying up, the wings will get attention in a year or two, but still look great on detailed inspection.

No Waco 10s flew in, but there were three “straightwings”  1929 ASO NC903H, 1930 ASO NC119Y, and 1931 ASO NC11253. The Museum’s “Taperwing” was out on the flight line, NR13918, 1929 ATO, which was bought by Joe Mackey in 1934 and used by his barnstorming group the Linco flying Aces, Mackey had the fuselage streamlined and covered with aluminum skin in place of the fabric and a bump cowl and larger engine installed, it was one of two US aircraft invited to perform at the 1936 Paris Air Games and then returned to the airshow scene in the US, Restored in 1993 it was for a number of years operated by BF Goodrich and flown at airshows before retiring to the museum.

The only early F series was 1930 Waco RNF NC11202 which was a very recent restoration on its first flight away from home base. There were at least 15 Waco UPF-7s which are nowadays the most numerous type including several significant aircraft. NC29927 is painted in the colors of a Boeing P-12 of the 308th Observation Squadron USAAC. NC30124 is a brand new restoration by Jerry Brown making its first trip away from its Indiana base. NC164 was restored by Rare Aircraft a couple of years ago in the owner’s choice of colors, the green coming from the color of his Cirrus. NC39717 was mostly restored many years ago following an accident in 1984, but recently completed and put together and was on its second flight after restoration, a short hop away from nearby Troy Skypark. NC20971 flew up all the way from Florida to operate joy rides and was kept very busy every day.

NC29368/24 had an interesting story, Restored by the Posey Brothers at Van Sant for the owner Tom Harden, whose grandfather owned the aircraft and operated in the Civilian Pilot Training scheme during WWII. After a search for some of the aircraft he operated, this one was found at Raymond Cuypers workshops in Belgium and purchased from the owner who had bought the project in the US some years earlier.

There were some fabulous Waco Cabins, including Roger James’ recently restored 1934 YKC which had just been crowned Grand Champion Antique at Oshkosh. Almost as nice is Dave and Jeannie Allen’s YKC NS14137 a previous Oshkosh award winner. Several other beautiful UKCs and YKC included Doug Parsons’ YKC NC14073 and brother David Parsons’ UKC NC14010 as well as the “Pure Oil” UKC NC13897.

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The oldest Cabin Waco present was the 1933 UIC NC13418 which looked fabulous in the evening sunshine when it arrived.

NS16212 is 1 1936 YQC-6 which was originally delivered to the state of Nebraska, hence the NS registration (also seen on YKC NS14137 which was the state of Ohio) it was recently beautifully restored and an award winner at Oshkosh 2022. Sleeker more modern Waco Cabins were NC19360 a 1938 ZGC-8 and NC20908 a 1939 AGC-8.

But Waco didn’t just make more modern sleeker Cabin aircraft, they also made the 1938 ZVN-8 N1937S with a nosewheel, said to make landing easier, they made around 20 of these and the N1937S is the only one still flying although there is another complete but not flown in quite a few years and a couple more projects. Amazingly one was imported to England in 1939 for use at the Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough for evaluating nosewheel designs, it had the serial P6330 but was lost in an accident in 1940.

Overall a great event with a lot of Wacos including several new restorations and a good selection of other visiting aircraft too.

For more information about the Waco Museum and the Waco Historical Society see

For more information about Wacos in general see

Waco Field on Saturday. photo by Andy Heins