Troy, Ohio, was once home to the most successful airplane manufacturer in the world. That manufacturer, WACO Aircraft Company, ceased production in 1947 but the city keeps the memories alive with Historic WACO Field at the south edge of town. A museum, learning center, and runway see action all year long but the annual fly-in brings in quite a bit of extra action, particularly for the runway. I attended this year’s fly-in on Saturday, the middle of its three day run.
The dozen or so WACOs parked on the ground made a colorful and impressive display. I have the feeling that there were more of the planes here on my first visit to the fly-in in 2006 but I can’t quantify that and a dozen WACOs is still a lot of WACOs.
There were plenty of “don’t touch” reminders but attendees were otherwise free to walk among the airplanes for up close viewing. Only after I got home and started to prepare this post did I realize that it is likely that not all of those gorgeous planes I admired were vintage. It had somehow escaped me that the WACO Aircraft Corporation of Battle Creek, Michigan, started building reproductions of the WACO YMF in 1986. The reproductions have the word “classic” in their logo so I should have been able to easily identify them if I’d only known to look. On the other hand, it was probably better not knowing and believing that all those great looking machines were older than me.
A tremendous increase in museum space since I was last here means that several airplanes, including some that were displayed outside in 2006, are now displayed under cover. Maybe that contributed, just a bit, to my sense of fewer WACOs on the field.
A big attraction is the availability, for a fee, of rides in the open planes. Passengers, two maximum, sit in front of the pilot. These pictures show a vintage (no “classic” in the logo) WACO taxiing from its spot among the other aircraft, gaining speed down the grass runway, then smoothly rising above the corn. My guess is that that’s a buddy and not a paying passenger in the front compartment.