By Matt Clevenger
TROY — The WACO Air Museum & Learning Center will celebrate 100 years of WACO history Friday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Sept. 17, hosting the largest annual WACO Fly-In event ever held at the museum and airfield located on South County Road 25A.
“We usually have 60 to 70 total aircraft, with maybe 15 of them being WACOs,” Executive Director Nancy Royer said. “This year we’re expecting 70 WACOs, plus additional aircraft.”
The anniversary celebration will start at WACO Field at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, with a ribbon-cutting at 3 p.m. followed by live music from local artists, food trucks and a pre-war vehicle show. Performances by Jerry Mullins, Seth Canan and the Carriers and Rusted Reserve will start at 4 p.m.; food trucks and a beer garden will also be available.
Events on Saturday, Sept. 16, will include an in-air parade of WACO planes, children’s activities and a self-guided driving tour of historic WACO sites around Troy. The day will close with a catered meal and dance featuring the 17-piece Tom Daugherty Orchestra performing as Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band in full World War II uniforms.
Tickets for the dinner and dance are officially sold out, but a small number of tickets are currently still available by calling the museum at 937-335-9226.
Events on Sunday, Sept. 17, will include the annual Farewell to the WACOs in the morning, followed by a fly-over from a B-52 bomber and the children’s candy drop hosted by the Barnstormers R/C club.
“Sunday has the very popular candy drop for kids,” Royer said. “It’s put on by the Barnstormers, which is the R/C club that meets here on our field.”
Bi-plane rides will also be available throughout the weekend on several different planes, and the museum will also introduce a new, recently-restored WACO RPT for display.
“We have a new airplane that we’re debuting as part of our collection at this event,” Royer said. “It’s the only low-wing WACO that was ever made, and it is also a 1940, and was a prototype for a trainer for the war.”
“It’s been under restoration by our aviation cadet program, taking it back to its original appearance, and by D & D Classic Restoration,” Royer said. “The people who donated that to the museum several years ago are from Wisconsin, and they will be here for the event.”
The museum has been preparing for the anniversary fly-in all year, adding aircraft parking, new lights and speakers for the event.
“We have more than doubled our aircraft parking,” Royer said. “We have added new displays inside of the museum.”
Parking for cars is also a concern, and the museum has asked that local visitors use one of several additional parking areas that will be available during the fly-in.
“We will overfill our lot, so there will be parking at the Veterans’s Museum, just 0.3 miles south of us,” Royer said. “There will be parking and shuttle service from Victory Church in Tipp City, which is just over I-75, and there will be parking at the Hobart headquarters on Ridge Avenue.”
Daily admission to the fly-in will be $10 for adults or $5 for students; children three and under will be free. Weekend passes will also be available at $20 for adults or $10 for students.
More information can be found online at www.wacoairmuseum.org.
The WACO Air Museum & Learning Center has hosted the annual WACO Fly-In each year since 1997, Royer said, although the event itself started before the museum was built.
The anniversary fly-in will celebrate 100 years of WACO aircraft in Troy, starting in 1923 when the WACO company moved from Medina, OH to Troy. After moving to Troy, WACO became the number one manufacturer of civil aircraft in the United States and remained in that first place spot until shortly before World War II began.
“During World War II WACO employed 3,000 people and was the largest employer in a five-county area,” a press release for the anniversary fly-in said. “Often entire families worked for WACO.”
“Today, WACO offers adventure as one of the few places someone can fly in an open cock-pit biplane, and has an educational facility with available summer camps, aviation and S.T.E.A.M. education, and extracurricular learning opportunities,” the release said.