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Waco adds floatsWaco adds floats

Waco Aircraft Corp. in Battle Creek, Michigan, is taking another whack at adding floats to the YMF-5 series, and hopes to fly the prototype to EAA AirVenture in July.

Drawings courtesy of Waco Aircraft Corp.

Peter Bowers remains president and co-owner of the family-run business that revived the Golden Age icon in the 1980s, and introduced a new Waco biplane, the YMF-5D model in 2009. The FAA certified that 300-horsepower update (an increase of 25 horsepower over the predecessor) with a custom-made MT elliptical tip propeller in 2010, and Bowers and his crew more recently decided it was time to take another look at giving the classic Waco design some sea legs.

The YMF-5 had been fitted in the 1990s with straight floats (having no retractable wheels to allow hard-surface landings), but that came with a few too many compromises, Bowers said in a telephone interview.

“It was a hell of a lot of fun, but it just wasn’t practical,” Bowers said of that 1990s take on a Waco seaplane. “You’re forced to land on water, at least if you want to take off again… there’s a lot of states where flying a straight-floated airplane across can be very challenging.”

With 300 horses up front, and a new constant-speed MT propeller to work with, Bowers and company turned their attention to Aerocet 3400 amphibious floats. They procured a wrecked YMF-5 with many salvageable components, and set to work making adjustments to marry the Aerocet floats to the Waco airframe. Serial number 82 will soon be flying to shows to demonstrate the prototype, and Bowers plans to also use it for FAA testing to certify the YMF-5F, the second Waco biplane to float—this time, with the option of landing on dry land, and taking off again immediately.

Bowers said the family hopes to have the prototype ready to fly to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in July. The team is fitting that in around a stack of orders for the YMF-5D, and Bowers said those come first. The float version is a project that currently resides in the welding department of the company that bills itself as the world’s smallest airplane factory.

Hopes are high that FAA approval will be won quickly, “since it’s already been done,” Bowers said. The YMF-5F is priced at $595,000, Bowers said, still cheaper than a loaded Cessna 182 or any Cirrus, he added.

“You’re already a rock star when you pull up to the FBO with this thing,” Bowers said of the 5D model. “Now you’ll be the rock star when you pull up to the boat dock.”

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Seaplane, Biplane

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