WAAAM  

1600 Air Museum Rd.

Hood River, OR 97031

 

(541) 308-1600


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Stories About Our Objects

WACO UBA journey to WAAAM

On July 2, 2013 the call went out that the WACO UBA was coming to WAAAM.

A 1932 Waco UBA airplane has been acquired with funds donated to purchase this aircraft.  Museum Chief Pilot Ben Davidson and Assistant Director Donna Davidson volunteered to pick up the airplane in Kalamazoo, Michigan and fly it across the country to its new home in Hood River.

This 1932 WACO UBA is making its way to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. The Waco UBA is unusual in Waco's line in that its single cockpit has side-by-side seating of its pilot and passenger instead of the more common arrangement of separate cockpits, fore and aft. The UBA, with a 210 HP Continental 7-cylinder radial engine, was the top of line model in Waco's "A" series and at $4,895 was quite costly for 1932. As a result only six were sold, mostly to high profile corporations.  Just three of this airplane remain in FAA records and WAAAM is proud to be flying the only one west of the Mississippi River.

Donna and Ben's journey unfolded in real time on WAAAM's Facebook page as they barnstormed across 1700+ miles of fabulous America.

Below is the tale of their trip, reposted for convenience in one central location.

The flight plan for the WACO UBA will take the Davidsons over 1700 miles across America. The image of the flight path to the left was the original plan. Ben and Donna were going to stop in:

  • Benton Harbor, MI (KBEH)
  • Valparaiso, IN (KVPZ)
  • Marshalltown, IA (KMIW)
  • Yankton, SD (KYKN)
  • Valentine, NE (KVTN)
  • Hot Springs, SD (KHSR)
  • Sheridan, WY (KSHR)
  • Cody, WY (KCOD)
  • Idaho Falls, ID (KIDA)
  • Burley, ID (KBYI)
  • Boise, ID (KBOI)
  • La Grande, OR (KLGD)

Their end destination was WAAAM. As they say, "No plan survives contact with the enemy." Ben and Donna made it to none of their planned stops.

WAAAM Chief Pilot, Ben Davidson works hard to annual this WACO UBA so that he and assistant director Donna Davidson can start their journey. Getting to Kalamazoo, Michigan was the first leg. Ben and Donna did that in 5 1/2 hour flight and one lay over in Minneapolis via Delta Airlines. Ben had to do an annual inspection on the WACO before the duo could leave so making sure the checked bag with the tools made the connecting flight was paramount. Unfortunately the tools didn't make it. This delayed the pick up by Phil and a later departure to the small grass field where the WACO lived.

Upon arriving to Mattawan, Michigan the WACO was carefully checked over for its annual inspection.

Enjoy the first test taxi and control test by clicking the link here.

Ben and Donna Davidson take off in the WACO UBA - destination Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. Before long the plane was ready for takeoff. John Dukesherer caught Ben and Donna's first flight in the WACO UBA when they left the Mattawan, Michigan aerodrome on July 4, 2013. View the video of the first flight here. Thanks John!

An open cockpit biplane and and two childhood sweethearts!  The Davidson's celebrated their 29th anniversary on this cross-country adventure.

The WACO UBA met this great family in Peru Illinois who helped them out. Flying on the 4th of July proved to be a bit of a challenge.

The first FBO that the Davidsons stopped at for fuel in Peru, Illinois was all locked up for the day.

At the airstrip our duo met a nice young helicopter mechanic and his family from Vale,Oregon. With his help and a quick phone call the WACO left for Davenport, Iowa where fuel was available.

Ben Davidson fuels up the WACO UBA for the first time on its trip to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. The journey to Davenport, Iowa was uneventful. The skies were very quiet with hardly a plane around. The quiet was most likely caused by the WACO's  not so good radio! Our pilots made a call to avoid airports with radio towers just to make sure that any confusion could be mitigated. But even without this issue the airports were ghost towns.

One of the odd quirks of side-by-side seating is being able to see exactly what the pilot is doing. Donna got Ben on film landing the WACO UBA. This 1932 aircraft has a "Johnson Bar," or throttle and breaks in one bar. Watch the video here.

The WACO UBA got lucky and found a spot in a hanger in Iowa City, Iowa to stay for its first night out on the cross country trip to WAAAM Air and Auto Museum. The WACO UBA spent its first night on this epic cross-country trip in a hanger in Iowa City, Iowa. The weather and the view was absolutely stunning in the great wide American heartland.

There was smooth air over Belle Plaine (TZT) on the start of the next days journey (July 5). The first stop of the day was at Storm Lake (SLB) just before the afternoon. Just like the name of the upcoming town, our duo kept a close eye on the weather forecast. Squalls were predicted. 

Ben and Donna got to experience America from the air as they brought the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile's new WACO UBA to the museum. Even with the worsening weather, the views were fantastic. You can see the section lines - one square mile by one square mile - mile after mile of green farms and small towns.

The WACO UBA hit a batch of bad weather on the trip to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. During the flight from Pierre, South Dakota to Black Hills, South Dakota (SPF), the WACO UBA hit its first rain showers. Ben and Donna didn't get too wet but there looked to be more bad weather on the way.

On the trip to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum the WACO UBA spotted its first mountain. On Friday, July 5 the first mountain of the trip was spotted! It was a sight for sore eyes. The mountain, Bear Butte, is just north of Sturgis and is 4420 feet above sea level. After some debate Donna and Ben decided not to stop at Sturgis (much to the disappointment of some Facebook followers who wanted to see them).

Despite the less than ideal conditions the WACO was flying wonderfully! Not a drop of oil hit the wind screen.

Donna made sure to point this out to Dick Clarke (WAAAM volunteer) saying, "[you] won't need to help clean this old girl!"

By the evening the WACO UBA made it to Eagle Aviation in Spearfish, South Dakota. They were awesome and come highly recommended. With 2 grass runways and an FBO that loves aviation the stop couldn't have been better! Plus, they got the WACO in a hangar and helped Ben and Donna find a room. Thanks to all at the airport for keeping the spirit of general aviation alive. Aleta Van Kampen caught the WACO UBA leaving the area. Check out the post here.

The WACO UBA flew over Bighorn Canyon on its cross country trip to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. July 6th brought wonderful weather for some fantastic views from the cockpit. In the clear blue sky Donna caught some great footage of Devils Tower. Watch the video here.

From 2000 feet above sea level the WACO UBA got a great view of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

The WACO UBA does well on the many grass runways, like the one in Bozeman, that it encountered on its flight to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. With a quick stop in Bozeman in the fresh mowed grass Donna and Ben were off enjoying the beautiful beautiful day. With such a jumbled travel route plan they went where the wind took them.

The Missoula FBO were a great help in ensuring the WACO UBA made it safely to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. Our travelers stopped for the last oil top off and fuel check at Missoula's Northstar FBO. The line crew fly! Now that is keeping general aviation alive and well.

Thanks for your help NorthStar! See you in Hood River soon!

On the trip the WACO UBA flew over the North Fork of the Clarke River. By flying west and down river Ben and Donna had a clear heading for Sandpoint, Idaho for the night. 

Donna says, "You have got to fly this trip!"

The people you meet on cross country trips are amazine. This WACO has some great stories to tell when it gets to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. In Sandpoint, Idaho Donna and Ben met Steve. He gave them a ride to the hotel last night and gave them the hangar tour.

At age 10, Steve's first plane ride was with Mike Strong in one of Mike's WACOs! Steve is the 2nd man our duo met on the trip who got hooked on aviation by Mike Strong.

Strong has donated WACOs to WAAAM so these meetings are just like meeting an extended part of the family.

Richland, Washington was the last stop before the WACO UBA got to its new home at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. With one last refueling stop in Richland, Washington at Sundance Aviation the WACO UBA was in the last leg of it's cross-country trip.

It's great to have so many friendly folks all across the nation that helped with the trip. 

A number of volunteers and visitors who had been following the trip anxiously awaited further news of the WACO's arrival.

After a quick hours warning notice the WACO finally made it to Hood River. It buzzed the museum before landing safely on July 7 - Ben and Donna's 27th anniversary.

A great big thanks goes out to all the folks that helped with the trip along the way! The spirit of aviation is alive and well in America.
Welcome back Ben and Donna! Thanks for bringing the WACO UBA all the way from Michigan to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum!!!

Thanks Ben and Donna!

   

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News Flash  

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The Columbia Gorge Children's Advocacy Center is putting on a raffle for a 1967 Mustang Coup.

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Steam Tractor Maiden Voyage

Check out the video of WAAAM's 1910 Aultman Taylor Steam Traction Tractor running under its own power for the fist time since the early 1980s!

   

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Volunteer Opportunities

Many volunteer opportunities are available.  Here is a partial list of how you can get involved.

WAAAM Volunteers are awesome!

  • Museum Docents
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  • Volunteer Services Representative
  • Marketing & Promotion
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  • Gift Shop
  • Administrative Support
  • Maintenance & Custodial
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Find out more on our volunteer page.

   

Memberships & Sponsorships

Members enjoy special benifits.

There are four levels of membership available to individuals and families.

  • Solo Membership: $50.00 – One Individual Membership
  • Family Membership: $100.00 – 2 adults and children/grandchildren 18 years old and under.
  • Membership +1: $120.00 – One individual membership plus one guest.
  • Membership +2: $150.00 – Two individual memberships plus 2 guests.

Call (541) 308-1600 for information on Business Memberships.

   

Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

Antique Airplanes   •  Antique Automobiles

Where Oregon and Washington meet, at the Columbia River Gorge.

It's worth the trip!