Tale of a Second Hand Waco

With a previously owned plane what you see is what you hope you get. This is the story of a used plane: The Pica Waco, a Plane for all Reasons, and its visit to New Jerusalem Field.

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Fuel:15% nitro used in review
Motor:OS .61 FX
Radio:JR 8103

Not every plane a pilot gets is a brand new plane. Sometimes a pilot gets a plane at an auction or a swap meet or simply buys it used. This is a story of a Pica Waco that was bought used but unflown. Built from a kit but not quite finished. The original owner/builder is unknown. Jeff Hunter was the buyer. He got the unfinished plane with an unmounted OS .61 FX motor as a "good deal." What he ended up with is a great plane! Being that it was acquired "mostly" built this is not your normal plane review. This is a used plane review with a little bit about checking out a second hand plane and more on how it flies. I also thought you might enjoy seeing some of the planes we flew with at New Jerusalem field. I hope you enjoy the show!

The Waco biplane derives it's name not from where it was built (Ohio not Texas) but from a contraction of the name of the company that first built it: Weaver Aircraft Company or W A CO for Waco. I have been told that to correctly pronounce it, it rhymes with taco. This plane was acquired already built and covered and came with a motor that had never been mounted to the plane. The only problem with this was that the motor was not designed to mount on the installed mount. The installed mount was stoutly built maple rods that go inside back to under the cockpit area. A little engineering was required of the buyer to cut and work with the existing mount to fit the included motor. To mount it he had to modify the exhaust system and made special cuts in the cowling to fit the now customized exhaust system. As for the rest of the plane, a close examination showed that most of the plane had been well assembled. The only minor exception was some work around the cockpit inside the fuselage and that would not have an affect on the structural integrity of the plane.

Since this plane had never been flown it didn't have most of the potential concerns a buyer must have when acquiring a second hand plane. The first and foremost of these is hidden damage to the structure from hard flying, hard landings and possible crashes. The second is damage to the plane from fuel and exhaust products getting into and softening the wood. The third concern and related to the first two is loosing of parts from vibration. There was no radio gear as part of this purchase but the mounting and functionnality of used servos and receivers should always be questioned and closely examined with used equipment. Here new gear was installed by the new owner so that was not a potential problem. He used two Hitec micro servos in the wings to move the four ailerons (two each wing) and three standard Hitec servos for rudder, elevator and throttle. After everything had been closely examined and double checked the plane was flown.

Jeff had a few flights with the plane to break it in before we went out with it to New Jerusalem. He claimed the plane was stable as a trainer but could do a variety of aerobatics and we were going to let him prove that to us. That claim lead to the title of this review. It turned out he was as good as his word as he had both Dick Andersen and I fly it like a trainer and he put it through its paces for the aerobatics.

The Waco In The Air

The first video on the Waco shows a take off and a touch and go. The second video shows some acrobatics. The third video shows more acrobatics and a landing.&nbsp


New Jerusalem is located approximately seven miles south of Tracy California. The strip where the R/C flying occurs is at the end of one of two former runways. I am told the runways were built by the navy during World War II as an auxiliary air strip for pilots in training to use for take-offs and landings. The eastern most runway has long been abandoned and only the end where the R/C flying takes place is maintained. The western most runway is 4,000 feet long and is paved. There are no facilities or buildings supporting the runway but it still gets used today by pilots for practice. On weekends pilots with ultra-lights sometimes come out and set-up their planes and use it for the day. This area is currently out in the middle of farm land. The 4,000 foot runway had several visitors while we were there. The first was a local cropduster and here is some video of his plane.


Cropduster video   1.89 MB

The two photos above and the one to the left are of the full scale cropduster we observed as part of our day of flying at New Jerusalem

The four pictures above are of Paul Kirby's Hanger 9 Mustang. To the right is a picture of Dick Andersen's electric Firecat and below are two shot's of Jeff Hunter's electric helicopter.

After the cropduster had left the area we were treated to a flying display by Paul Kirby with his Hanger 9, P51 Mustang. His plane is powered with a Magnum .91 motor. He had three flights while we were there and he hates to come down until he has to. All three flights were concluded with dead stick landings. Here is a portion of one of those three flights.


P51 video   2.56 MB

Another pilot flying that day was Mark Maral. he had a couple planes with him but I focused on his Kyosho Stearman ARF. He has it powered with a Magnum .61 four stroke motor. he said his planes color scheme matches the one occasionally flown on the television show JAG. Mark did a great job of recovering the plane as it does closely match Harm's plane, Sarah, on the show. It was featured in a rerun two nights after my visit to the field and was on as I was proof reading this article. Mark obviously enjoys flying it. Mark and his Stearman are displayed in the four pictures below.


Stearman video   2.77 MB

There was a relatively new pilot out at the field that day and his name was Jose Alvardo. He was flying two planes and I watched him fly his Kyosho Spitfire ARF. He has it powered with a Thunder Tiger .54. He is flying very capably and will be expanding his flying skills to more aerobatics during 2004. Below is a picture of his Spitfire and a picture of him with Jeff Hunter. Jose is wearing his leather bomber jacket. It helps get him in the flying spirit!


Spitfire video   1.26 MB

Above are two pictures of a beautiful scale Mustang. For more detail click on the picture to see it enlarged.


Full scale Mustang   2.86 MB

You never know what you might see at New Jerusalem. If you couldn't tell from the still pictures the sound in the video had to let you know that this last scale Mustang was a full scale Mustang. It just flew by towards the end of our visit and performed five high speed passes over the nearby runway. At the end of four of those passes it did a slow climbing roll. After the fifth and final pass it just flew away. But we had our own mini airshow watching the pilot catch a little practice out over a runway in the the middle of farm land.


We had a great day out at New Jerusalem! Dick and I got to fly Jeff's Waco and he was correct that it was very stable and very easy to fly. So much so that a beginner could fly it with the help of an instructor to get it safely up and down. Despite that stability a variety of acrobatics could be performed during the same flight so that a novice and an expert could share the flight and both get a lot of enjoyment. The Pica Waco is one very nice plane! But the full scale P51 really made our day! I hope you enjoyed this little slice of our trip to New Jerusalem field.

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Feb 01, 2004, 12:33 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP

The Mustang video

Many of you have enjoyed the video of the full scale P-51 Mustang that is part of the review. It was really exciting to see it in person. I am using some of that same footage in a review that will soon be posted in Ezone as that Mustang helped cause me to crash. At least that's my story and I am sticking to it.
The night before the trip to NJ I was up almost all night and worked on a Multiplex Micro-Jet. I wanted the right elevon to be slightly higher then the left one to help prevent torque roll on launch. But in my tired and sleep deprived condition I was looking at the plane from the back and raised the left one slightly higher then the right. This made the torque roll problem a certainty.
I would have caught the mistake in my preflight check procedures except just as I was getting to that point the Mustang arrived. I dropped everything to shoot that video. When the Mustang left I was unusually jacked up about flying and thought I had finished my preflight.
I gave my camera to a friend and picked up the Micro-Jet and tossed it and it imediately rotated left and crashed!!! Believing reviews should be honest I share my stupidity with the world here and in the upcoming Micro-Jet review on Ezone. the plane was easy to repair and my theory has proven accurate when done correctly as I have no torque problem with the right elevon slightly higher then the left.
That is why the Mustang caused me to crash (Yeah sure!) And that is the rest of the story behind that video. Michael Heer
Last edited by Michael Heer; Feb 01, 2004 at 12:36 PM.
Mar 27, 2004, 03:00 AM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
Wow, that is one of the most enjoyable online e-zine articles I have come across. The variety of planes in pics and videos, mixed with the sounds of full size aircraft is too cool. And the sound of the P-51 making passes with the Merlin in full song was icing on the cake!

Outstanding job!
Latest blog entry: Felony
Mar 27, 2004, 02:25 PM
Official Boat Bum
Eddie P's Avatar
Hi Mike-

This is a really fun, well put together review that not only captures the experience with The Waco, but really captures the fun and excitement of a full day of flying. The videos are great!!
Mar 27, 2004, 03:07 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks Kmot and Eddie for the nice words. It was a fun day for the most part. But if you check out the Micro-Jet review in Ezone you will see that I did not have a perfect day. I let the Mustang distract my preflight routine and I should have started over when the Mustang flew away. Even so...That Mustang was sweat sounding! Mike
May 07, 2009, 11:29 AM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
I traded for this plane and gave it to my friend Dick Andersen who enjoyed it so much during this review. He has restored the covering where needed. Cleaned up the motor and it is flying wonderfully once again. Mike
Jul 07, 2010, 04:06 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
This was originally the first article in RC Power when that forum opened but I was contacted by someone who couldn't find it there anymore and neither could I. I don't think it was originally in electric plane talk either.
Jul 07, 2010, 04:54 PM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
Considering it wears a glow motor you're probably right.

Jul 07, 2010, 05:16 PM
OCD: Old, Cranky and Disgusted
challenger_i's Avatar
It has an electrically-fired glow plug! Does THAt count?

I picked up a second-hand, unflown 60" YMF several years ago.
It was fitted with an OS 60 "open rocker" four-stroke, also unflown.
I replaced the 60 with a 1st gen OS .90 four-stroke, and it was THE
best flying plane I ever had! I used it to teach a couple noobs how
to fly (yep, MANY of the "old hands" at the field said ya just CAN'T
use a biplane as a trainer!), with great ease.
I sure miss that old bird!
Sep 29, 2011, 02:50 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
Very curious! This was the first article in RC Power and involves a power airplane but somehow it got moved to the Electric Plane Talk discussion area. Makes no sense to me. Mike Heer

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