November 11, 2009
Early in 2000 with the Centennial of Flight only a few years away, AOPA decided that something of a historical nature was needed for the next sweeps stakes aircraft ï¿½ one aircraft fit the bill.
AOPA's celebration of the 100th anniversary of powered flight will last two years and follow the restoration of our Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes airplane ï¿½ a pilot-friendly 1940 Waco UPF-7 biplane.
The Waco Aircraft Company of Troy, Ohio, began production of the UPF-7 in 1937 with most going into service in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP). With World War II looming on the horizon, the purpose of the CPTP was to ensure a supply of trained pilots if and when military needs arose. The program was operated by civilian flight schools with government help. Nearly 600 of the Waco trainers were built, with many of them being lost during pilot training and in subsequent years.
After World War II, many of the aircraft were operated as crop dusters; others were bought by pilots as recreational or time-building aircraft. As surplus aircraft, they represented a low-cost entry into the world of aircraft ownership. A number of the aircraft were bought from the Waco factory by the CAA, the predecessor of today's FAA. With its limited aerobatic capability, the Wacos were flown as trainers but were rarely seen on the air-show circuits.
The F series, according to the book Waco Aircraft Company, incorporated many new features, including a 50-percent stagger of the upper and lower wings to give the pilot improved visibility. A modified Heinkel truss used for the wings reduced the number of exposed wires, giving the aircraft a clean-cut appearance. The letters UPF stand for the type of engine, wings, and fuselage used.
AOPA's Waco will, of course, be fully restored with a 275-hp Jacobs engine replacing the current 220-hp Continental. This should provide the winner with that extra speed and performance most pilots seek. Modern avionics will update the aircraft and increase its capability and utility in today's modern airspace environment.
Throughout the next two years, AOPA will chronicle the restoration and improvements made to our Waco aircraft through articles in Pilot magazine. The winner will be chosen in January 2004, with 24 other entries drawn over the next two years to win training in a Waco aircraft.
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