AOPA Pilot Magazine
October 2003 Volume 46 / Number 10
AOPA Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes: Waco on Tour
Now that they see it, AOPA members want to keep it
Earlier this year we asked AOPA members, "What would you do if you won the Waco?" Two-thirds of you said back then that you would sell or "probably" sell the Waco UPF-7 open-cockpit biplane to pay the taxes (see "AOPA Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes: What if You Won the Waco?" April Pilot). That survey was repeated recently among spectators standing next to the airplane when it was on display at Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida, and EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. The results, as you'll see, were dramatically different.
The restored 1940 aerobatic airplane will be awarded in January or February 2004. AOPA members who join or renew by December 31, 2003, are automatically entered. (In other words, you may already be a winner, as Ed McMahon says.)
Blown away by the beauty of the restoration work by Rare Aircraft in Owatonna, Minnesota, the majority of those who viewed the aircraft at the two events said they would find some way to pay the taxes (estimated at $70,000) and keep the $250,000 biplane. Some had rather unusual plans for it, such as mounting a ski rack on it for winter trips or converting it into a crop duster.
At Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In
Emmett Ottaviano, AOPA 1083286, Sarasota, Florida
"It would make a great retirement job. I would give rides up and down the west coast of Florida. I like to take people with me to share the experience."
Tommy Ellis, Carrsville, Virginia
"I'd put spray booms on it and spray my cotton."
Bobby Tyler, AOPA 4543650, Franklin, Virginia
"I'd have to learn how to fly it."
Claude Bundy, AOPA 1058542, Gatesville, North Carolina
"I'd name it the Red Baron."
Jim Peckham, AOPA 4330806, Madison, New York
"I'd keep it until the tax people caught up with me. Then I'd use raffles and rides to pay for it."
Grant Pearsoll, Park City, Utah
"I'd rather win this than Powerball."
Earl Redd, Texarkana, Texas
"I'd probably pass out and take a while to come back."
Mary Raper, AOPA 2667822, Tullahoma, Tennessee
"I'd learn to fly it."
Frank J. Rezich, AOPA 948311, San Miguel, California
"I'd keep it and give it to my daughter."
At EAA AirVenture 2003
Ron Mann, AOPA 1231531, Pound Ridge, New York
"I expect delivery on time in January so I can go skiing in Vermont. We'd have to fit a ski rack to it somehow, but we'll figure that out. I'm going to fly like the pilots of old with a long leather jacket and a leather helmet. [Actually, Ron, AOPA provides the helmet and the jacket.] I look forward also to flying it down the Hudson River around Manhattan and circling the Statue of Liberty. My wife will say, 'Choose, the Decathlon or the Waco,' and I'll keep the Waco."
John Schreiber, AOPA 1297029, Scottsburg, Indiana
"I'd fly it once and I'd be so scared I'd sell it. It might be nice to just sit it in front of the hangar and look at it."
Mark Ash, AOPA 979597, Raleigh, North Carolina
"This is something I have lusted after for more than 20 years." (His son, Sam, confirmed this, saying, "He does! He mutters about biplanes in his sleep.")
Kris Kluge, AOPA 1401872, Fairborn, Ohio
"Real airplanes have two wings and round engines. This is a real airplane. I'd give rides in it and share it with everybody. I'm in the Air Force, so it wouldn't be hard to find guys who want to go."
Jonathan Clarke, AOPA 1288239, Chesapeake, Virginia
"I'd fly it until the bank takes it back. In all honesty I would do what it takes to pay the taxes and keep it. I'd pamper it once I won it — it would be a dream come true."
Becky McGinnis, AOPA 4341256, Harrisonville, Missouri
"I would keep it and get a taildragger endorsement. I might even have to go to a few shows and get some eyes on it. I'd keep it hangared and might even have to get a matching outfit."
Barny Barnhart, AOPA 1155987, Wautoma, Wisconsin
"I just want the airplane to have a good home, and my hangar is the best home for it."
Steve McLaughlin, AOPA 1088291, Midland, Texas
"I'm a low-time 172 pilot and this would be quite a change. It's gorgeous. I'd have to go buy some goggles." (No, you wouldn't, Steve, AOPA provides the goggles.)
Jeff Ebert, AOPA 1331637, Fort Worth, Texas
"I'd fly it for a year and then sell it to pay the taxes. It's always been a dream to fly an open-cockpit biplane."
Don McCracken, AOPA 1184622, South Lake Tahoe, California
"I already know I didn't win it. It's beautiful, but it always seems like the numbers are against me. It seems like it's always been somebody in the Southeast or East. If I did win, I'd set up a tour business at South Lake Tahoe."
Ron Falch, AOPA 930592, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
"It'd be way too much fun. I'd have to fly it. I've seen some people say they'll sell it. I'd have a hard time parting with it. My oldest daughter would just go nuts if I brought that home. I'd put her name on it."
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Your Waco: 'The Flying Scotsman'
Only one company in the world makes flying wires, roll wires, landing wires, and tail brace wires — the strands of steel that make your Waco UPF-7 sweepstakes biplane tough. And the company's in Scotland.
Bruntons Aero Products, located near Edinburgh, has made flying wires — actually they are flattened steel rods — since 1914 and plans to continue well into the future. "We invented the damn things, and we're not going to stop now," said Marketing Director Andres Stevenson. Many years ago Bruntons taught an American company, MacWhyte, to make them. But that company has been bought by another wire cable company, and production of aviation wires has ceased.
Fifty workers toil at Bruntons, working from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Friday they work from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., and then they're outta there for the weekend. They start with what the steel industry calls 316 steel ingots, round steel rods that have a high chrome content (thus, their shiny appearance). Polishing, by the way, is done by hand and takes 45 minutes per wire. They tried automating the task: "It just doesn't work," said Stevenson.
There's nothing exotic about the steel — it's just plain old steel. The ingots are rolled and then flattened during several passes through a press. Streamlined (flattened) rods have only one-seventh of the drag that round ones have. And they're tough. It takes 6,900 pounds of force to snap one of them.
Flying wires support a biplane's wings in flight, while landing wires take the shock of landing. Roll wires, located above the front cockpit area, absorb the stresses of aerobatics, and tail brace wires do exactly what the name implies.
Bruntons sells nearly 100 sets of wires each year, and each set costs about $3,000. However, they provide only one-tenth of the company's revenue. The rest comes from making control cables for British Aerospace and Airbus aircraft. The company once had a branch plant in England, but now it's an all-Scottish effort.
If you wanted to call your Waco UPF-7 The Flying Scotsman, you'd have a strong case. — AKM