When this Waco UPF-7 first flew in 1941, the US government knew entry into WWII was inevitable but couldn’t stray from the official isolationist policy. The Civilian Pilot Training Program offered a workaround to achieve pilot readiness. Civilian fixed base operators purchased planes, recouping their investment through government funded training programs that gave college students a leg up when they entered the Army Air Corps, Navy, or Marines.
After acquisition by Unger Aircraft Association, our Waco helped train future WWII and Korean War pilots. It retired from this role in 1953 and disappeared. In 2002, it reappeared when an inspector for Rare Aircraft surveyed a Piper aircraft for a customer. He was just about out the door when the elderly owner’s companion said, “What about the plane you’ve got stored in that garage unit?” The inspector stopped in his tracks, got some directions, and found our Waco UPF-7 neatly packed in boxes that took up an entire storage unit.
The owner had dismantled the plane after purchasing it, intending at some point to restore the plane himself. The plane (or rather, the boxes) traveled with him through three moves across 50 years. Now he was ready to sell. Because all parts had been preserved, the team at Rare Aircraft was able to retain most of the original steel framework. The plane’s wood wing framework was replaced with aviation grade Sitka Spruce, along with Grade A cotton covering. This Waco UPF-7 is one of fewer than 60 that fly today.