By Matt Clevenger
TROY — Vintage WACO aircraft of all kinds took flight at Historic WACO Field Friday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Sept. 17, as the WACO Air Museum and Learning Center hosted its 100th Anniversary Fly-in.
“We’ve had an amazing turnout,” Executive Director Nancy Royer said. “People have just kept coming through the gates.”
“The planes have not set still,” she said. “We’ve been doing a great amount of plane rides.”
Approximately 70 historic planes participated in the event, making it WACO’s largest annual fly-in ever, and one of the largest gatherings of WACO aircraft anywhere in recent history.
“I can’t tell you how many are in the skies,” Royer said. “These pilots are VFR pilots, which means they are flying by visual flight rules. That means it is their responsibility to keep an eye out, and to avoid all other aircraft.”
WACO owners and pilots from across the country attended the event, with many camping out next to their historic aircraft at WACO Field.
“It’s hard to choose a WACO to highlight, because they are all so wonderful,” Royer said.
“We have a WACO here that was purchased originally in 1934, and the grandson of the original owner found it located in Belgium, bought it, and brought it back,” she said. “He’s done a restoration on it, just finished last week and flew it in here from Pennsylvania.”
“We have one that’s come from Quebec; we have several from the 1930s,” Royer said. “One that we’ve highlighted this weekend is the RPT, which is the only WACO low-wing that ever was built.”
“It never went into production,” she said. “It’s been restored by the aviation cadets and D & D Classic Restoration in Covington, so we’ve been showcasing that airplane this weekend.”
The WACO Air Museum & Learning Center has hosted the annual WACO Fly-In each year since 1997.
The anniversary fly-in celebrated 100 years of WACO aircraft in Troy, starting in 1923 when the company moved from Medina to Troy. After moving to Troy, WACO became the leading manufacturer of civil aircraft in the United States and remained in that spot until shortly before World War II began. During World War II, WACO employed approximately 3,000 people, and was the largest employer in a five-county area.
Located on South County Road 25A, the WACO Air Museum and Learning Center offers open-cockpit biplane rides and provides educational facilities with summer camps, aviation and S.T.E.A.M. education and extra-curricular learning opportunities.
“We’ll be flying biplane rides into October, so even if you didn’t get to come out for the 100th anniversary, you can still take a ride this fall,” Royer said.
WACO also offers flight ground school and the aviation cadet program, for youth ages 10 to 18 who are working on learning restoration techniques.
“We offer a flight ground school that will be starting the first week in October on Wednesday nights, for those interested in learning to fly,” Royer said. “This prepares them for the written portion of their test.”
More information can be found online at www.wacoairmuseum.org.