Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cabin Wacos

photo by Tom Eggert - click on photo to enlarge

My friend Tom Eggert in Minnesota recently sent me this great photo of his beautiful Waco YKS-7 taken along with Waco ZQC-6 (NC2277) in the foreground. What a nice picture! Two Gorgeous Cabin Wacos from Minnesota. I am so looking forward to flying with Tom in his Waco someday.

The C-6 holds a special place in our family's memories. Now owned by David Schroeder in Eagan MN, NC2277 came into the Bowden family in 1978. Dad and I drug it home on a trailer from Ponder Texas. The story goes that this airplane was crash-landed on the bottomland of the Red River in the late 1960's after an in-flight fire. The owner/pilot at that time was Jack House. The lower wings and landing gear had been wiped out. The basket of remaining parts had been stored and passed around for over a decade. By the time dad bought it, there was no wood to be found for the fuselage. There were no lower wings. No landing gear, No engine. Some cowling parts. A real basket case.

NC2277 taken in the 1950's. photo credit: AAHS Archives

In-flight photos by Terry Bowden, shot from a Cessna 172D photo plane.

Dad and I built the lower wings from scratch using pictures as a guide, a rib jig we got from a friend, and a wing sketch on 8 X 10 sheet of paper. Dad absorbed himself in this airplane for thousands of hours over a 5+ year period. Among the improvements we made, was an engine change to 275 hp Jacobs (it was formerly a 350 hp Wright powered ship). The engine swap included a modified Cessna 195 "dyna-focal" engine mount which made this one of the smoothest Wacos around. After making the mistake of using VW Beetle brakes, we later installed a set of Cleveland wheels and brakes with a locking tailwheel, which finally made it somewhat controllable on the ground. Those '36 Wacos have a narrow gear and with 100 gallons of fuel in the upper wing, you really have a ground-loop sensitive airplane. The C-6 is one airplane that requires a good set of brakes.

Dad spent hours and hours on the finer details of this airplane. I can remember how the strut farings were literally made over and over again until finally getting them just right. Dad was generous with soundproofing, all glass windshield, custom-made woodwork with inlaid trim on the instrument panel... a really nice interior. First flight after restoration was in 1984.

In comparison to the F17D Staggerwing we later had, the Waco was quieter, cooler, and more comfortable in the cabin. Great for long trips. The unique paint job on this airplane was copied from a factory sketch that remained with the airplane paperwork. Dad corresponded with Ray Brandley who recalled the original colors which were custom-ordered by the Schweitzer Cummins corp in 1936. Mom and Dad flew this airplane to Blakesburg IA, Bartlesville, OK, and other fly-ins over the years and really enjoyed how it flew.

I am glad to see that Mr. Schroeder is taking good care of ol' NC2277.

Our first Waco was a YKS-6, NC16507. Dad bought it in 1977. We kept this airplane for a couple of years... rejuvenated the fabric, replaced some of the interior, did a top overhaul and fixed a TON of leaks on the 245 Jake. It was a sweet flier. We dont have many photos of this airplane. When it sold it went out to the West Coast. It is still on the FAA registry in Rosamond Calif.

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