Classic Biplane Visits KCGI

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Cape Girardeau Regional Airport was recently visited by another unusual aircraft, a WACO Biplane, flown by Air Show performer Bob Wagner, who was delivering the plane to it's owner in Texas.

WACO (pronounced wah-co) is an acronym for The Weaver Aircraft Company of Troy, Ohio. Founded in a partnership between business men and barnstormers, the company produced aircraft through the 1930's and World War Two. They built both open cockpit and enclosed (cabin) biplanes which were used in airshows, on mail routes, by flying schools, and on global expeditions. In the beginning days of corporate aviation, businessmen discovered that the speed and comfort of the cabin biplanes could allow them to beat their competition by quickly covering long distances between clients.

Waco's were equally at home when operating from major airports, or giving passenger rides as barnstormers flew them from wheat fields and pastures. Some were even armed with machine guns and bomb racks, and sold to foreign countries. During World War Two, Waco also built CG-4A troop gliders for the military which were used in the Normandy invasion...there is a restored example on display at the Army Museum in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The Waco that stayed with us is not a restoration or antique. Built to the orignal's plans, and using the latest equipment, it is a totally new aircraft. A pilot from the 1930's would be startled by a peek into the pilot's open cockpit. It's instrumentation includes a "Glass Panel" which performs all the functions originally handled by the more familiar "Steam Gage's", and it's GPS navigation system is light-years away from the barnstormer's road-map and whiskey compass.

Still, even this modern-day version of a 1930's aircraft is not immune to mechanical problems, and the WACO stayed with us a couple extra days after it's Jacobs engine suffered some magneto problems...with one mag having to be replaced. Two days later, with a new magneto installed, Mr. Wagner cranked up the the biplane's radial engine and was once again on his way to Texas.

For more info: www.americanbarnstormer

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