Thursday, June 18, 2015

Taking to the skies in style

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
June 18, 2015

One of the vintage biplanes built at WACO

Peter Bowers, owner
Peter Bowers, president of WACO (pronounced WAH-co) Classic Aircraft Corporation in Battle Creek, stands with legs apart, arms crossed over his chest, eyes on the plane. It is one of seven planes currently in the hangar, and seven is full capacity here, but two more planes are coming.

"We had a record year in 2014," Bowers says. "$5 million in sales, but we will be introducing the E model in April 2016. Keep the customers interested. We solicit feedback from our customers, and we put that feedback into the next plane. We’re always improving; every plane is better than the one before."

Outshining the sun in the open hangar, facing the runways of W. K. Kellogg Airport, is a bright yellow WACO YMF-5D Biplane with an open cockpit. It’s not quite yet ready to fly, and a sticker that says as much is taped to the standard fixed-pitch MT wood propeller, but it will be soon. Somewhere, a customer is counting the days. 

"About 25 percent of our business is offshore," Bowers says. "Every year, at least one plane goes to Europe. We just sent one to New Zealand, another to Australia."

Bowers has been running WACO for seven years. His father, Jon Bowers, is a minority partner. WACO, however, goes much farther back in its history. During what’s known as the Golden Age of Aviation, between 1919 and 1947, the WACO Aircraft Company began as a family-owned business in Troy, Ohio. WACO appears to have been the acronym for the original name of Weaver Aircraft Company. 

The aircraft manufacturing company saw its booming years during World War II, building twice as many planes as any other aircraft manufacturer. They also build an open-cockpit biplane, the WACO YMF, for the barnstorming pilots of the 1930s. It is that vintage plane that ...



Custom painting makes each plane unique

Wings are made of wood covered with Dacron polyester

Bowers looking at engineer's drawings

Ready for a test flight

No comments:

Post a Comment