Waco UPF-7 The Backstory

Waco UPF-7 The Backstory

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During its own golden age in the 1930s, the Waco Aircraft Company built and sold more planes than all other commercial companies combined. The reason? Look to the company’s official riff: “Ask any pilot.” Our UPF-7 delivers an example of why the company was so successful, combining wood, steel, and fabric construction with an open cockpit, sturdy Jacobs engine, and Hamilton propeller. It was easy to maneuver and offered an exceptionally stable flight experience, making it the perfect plane for passenger rides, air performances, and basic pilot training.

Here’s a company that illustrates Louis Pasteur’s epigraph: “Chance favors the prepared mind.” After the end of World War II in 1919, there wasn’t much going on with military aviation. Four young men, led by the visionary Clayton Bruckner, decided to take advantage of the industry’s efforts to get civilians interested in passenger flight. After a number of failures, they found the design formula that worked, and in 1923 began producing planes that could handle aerobatic performance, racing, and more prosaic passenger flights. Their success extended beyond the private sector to building transport gliders used in most World War II invasions—not to mention selling many UPF-7s for use in the Civilian Pilot Training Program sponsored by the US government. Bruckner knew when to hold and when to fold—by 1946, he saw that small-passenger craft weren’t going to turn a profit in the post-war marketplace and stopped producing planes. The company continued to support existing flyers, and then closed in 1953, with Bruckner a rich man who’d done well by and for his country.