WACO Barnstorms the World

Waco Aircraft Company Waco UPF-7. Image source: Waco UPF-7 (G-UPFS) arrives RIAT Fairford 10thJuly2014 arp.jpg by Arpingstone is in the public domain.

The Weaver Aircraft Company (WACO) of Troy, OH, produced many of the leading biplanes and gliders for the world's military and civilian markets. Between 1919 and 1946, the company manufactured a variety of cabin and open-cockpit biplanes. They also developed several combat gliders that were used in World War II. WACO designed and built primary trainers and both cargo and troop carrying gliders.

WACO aircraft were renowned for their excellent design and outstanding performance. IWACO led the way and was recognized as the leading American manufacturer of civilian aircraft in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The company itself changed names and restructured several times during this period, but the WACO aircraft design remained in production into the 1930's.

WACO 10 in the Canada Aviation Museum, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Image source: Waco 10 (GXE) 01.JPG by Ahunt is in the public domain.

WACO also pioneered the "executive plane" market, creating comfortable, personal transportation for wealthy, time-conscious people.  Today's Learjets, Gulfstreams, and King Airs were inspired by the early WACO Model 10 and WACO Taperwing.

Did you Know?

Waco CG-4A. (U.S. Air Force photo). 060505-F-1234P-004.JPG. Image source: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, public domain.

The WACO troop-carrying gliders (for example the CG-4 "Hadrian") had a great impact in World War II.  Just under 14,000 were built between 1942 and 1947, and they participated in the Allied invasions of Sicily (1943), Normandy, Southern France, and Holland (all 1944), as well as the crossing of the Rhine in 1945.  Glider-borne infantry went into battle like paratroopers (often behind enemy lines), but were far less well-known.  They were initially denied "hazardous duty pay" on the dubious grounds that crash-landing behind enemy lines in a wood-and-canvas airplane with no engines wasn't unduly "hazardous."

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