WACO Air Museum & Historic WACO Field

Historical sign for the WACO Aircraft Company, Troy, Ohio

Historical sign for the WACO Aircraft Company, Troy, Ohio

First, just a quick update on my manuscript. My editor got back to me a few weeks ago with some suggested revisions and I hope to have those finished by the end of March. Then the manuscript will be sent out for a peer review, since the University of Washington is an academic press. So I continue to inch toward publication!

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a gem I tripped over this weekend in my own backyard, the WACO Air Museum and Historic WACO Field. There’s so much to say about this place that I can’t do it justice in a single blog post, so please visit their website for more information. Better yet, stop by if you are in the Dayton area! Admission is only $6 for adults ($5 for military).

WACO (pronounced, “WAH-CO,” unlike the Texas city) was the Weaver Aircraft Company in Troy, Ohio, about 20 miles north of Dayton. The company built aircraft in the 1920s through the 1940s, and a handful of flyable airplanes still exist; some even give rides and perform in air shows. Here is a picture of the “Cootie,” the first airplane they manufactured; it’s hanging from the ceiling of the museum:

WACO Cootie

WACO Cootie

As you can see, it wasn’t much, with it’s two-cylinder engine. Next up is the WACO 9, which was manufactured in 1926 and uses a World War I-surplus OX-5 engine. These engines were very plentiful and powerful for their day, having been built for military trainers, but they had a major drawback — like most early engines, they were water-cooled, like your car. Notice the box that resembles an air conditioner perched behind and above the engine. Not only did this make it hard for the pilot to see forward, the radiators and their hoses were prone to breaking in flight and, once all the coolant drained out, well, it was time to start looking for a place to land!

WACO 9, an example of a water-cooled engine

WACO 9, an example of a water-cooled engine

The next airplane is the WACO UMF-3, a later model that used an air-cooled radial engine. This particular aircraft was owned by the mayor of Moraine, Ohio, which has an airport where I used to keep my first Decathlon airplane.

WACO UMF-3, with air-cooled radial engine

WACO UMF-3, with air-cooled radial engine

One of the more interesting displays is about the cockpit remnant in the picture below. This is one of the few metal parts from a WACO glider used during World War II to insert Army troops into France. Click here for more information about this amazing story.

Remnant of WACO glider used during WWII

Remnant of WACO glider used during WWII

These are just a few of the airplanes on display. This is the first aviation museum I’ve visited that has only aircraft from one manufacturer, and I found it very interesting to watch the progression and advances from model-to-model. Unfortunately, WACO went out of business after WWII, at least partly a casualty of the market saturation by surplus aircraft.

The site isn’t just a museum, though. It’s also an airfield (WACO Field Airport, identifier 1WF) that you can fly into, and they have fly-ins and other events when the weather is warmer. Click here for more information about the airfield. The last picture below is an old gas pump that looks good enough to still work, although I don’t think it does.

Old time gas pump at WACO Field Airport, Troy, Ohio

Old time gas pump at WACO Field Airport, Troy, Ohio

Local History: Paine Field in Everett

Some of you may remember that Arnold took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, to set his world record. Although he normally flies from Harvey Field in nearby Snohomish, Paine Field offered a longer runway for the fuel-heavy E-1 and a control tower in case there were any problems with the take off.

Paine Field is also home to the plant where Boeing manufactures their wide-body aircraft — 747, 767, 777 and 787 — so I see big airplanes flying around here all the time.

There’s a new book out about the history of Paine Field, and I learned that the airport was originally constructed in the 1930s. It was planned to be a large passenger airport, but during WWII, the Korean War and much of the Cold War, it was mostly a military facility, housing P-51s, F-86s, and F-89s at one time or another. Boeing didn’t move to the airport until the late 1960s.

I also learned that Paine Field is named for Topliff Olin Paine, who was a local airmail pilot. Most airmail pilots who have airports named for them died in plane crashes, but Paine was killed by an accidental gunshot wound in 1922, just a few days after his 29th birthday. He is buried at a cemetery near my house, so I walked there on Saturday with my sister and found his grave. From the marker in the picture below, you can see that he was also in the military during WWI. The larger headstone behind his marker is for his parents.

Paine Grave

Topliff Olin Paine grave marker — Paine Field in Everett is named for him

Up next: Another Amazing Aviation Tale!

Oshkosh Report

If you’ve ever attended AirVenture at Oshkosh, you know it has a way of increasing any addiction you might already have to aviation. This year I just couldn’t stand to not have a homebuilt aircraft any longer, and I’ve decided to start building an airplane as soon as possible! I started to build a “One Design” aerobatic aircraft many years ago, but after ten years of constant moving and only producing two ailerons, I gave up.

This time around, I’ve decided to build something a bit less ambitious than the One Design, and I’ve pretty much settled on a Van’s RV-8; I should make my final decision by the end of September. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Arnold and I stopped at Felts Field in Spokane to deliver the set of BD-5 plans I mentioned in my last blog post. Clark Taylor met us there to take the plans and show us around. Here’s a picture of Clark with the partially-finished BD-5 that he hopes to fly some day!

Clark Taylor of EAA Chapter 79 with his partially assembled BD-5

Clark Taylor of EAA Chapter 79 with his partially assembled BD-5

Some of you might remember that Arnold owned a BD-5 kit at one time, and he used one of the bulkheads to form the fuselage of the E-1. Here’s a picture of that bulkhead as installed in Clark’s airplane.

The BD-5 bulkhead that was used in the E-1 (as installed in a BD-5)

The BD-5 bulkhead that was used in the E-1 (as installed in a BD-5)

Clark also gave us a full tour of the EAA Chapter 79 Chapter House. I’ve been a member of many EAA chapters over the years, and this chapter has the nicest facilities I’ve ever seen, complete with large hangar, meeting room, and place to hang out for watching movies, airplanes, or even model railroads. If you’re in the Spokane area, be sure to stop by and give Chapter 79 a visit!

EAA Chapter 79 Chapter House, Felts Field, Spokane Valley, WA

EAA Chapter 79 Chapter House, Felts Field, Spokane Valley, WA