Saturday, September 17, 2016

WACO receives surprise donation

Nancy Royer, far left, and Gretchen Hawk, far right, of the WACO Air Museum in Troy, present Jordan Jaffe and Doug Jaffe, with Lifetime Memberships to the WACO Air Museum on Saturday. The Jaffe’s, who are from Austin, TX, donated a 2004 WACO Classic YMF-F5C, 3-seat aircraft to the WACO Air Museum on Friday evening. Pictured in the center is Troy resident Bob Wagner, who has worked as a test pilot for WACO Classic Aircraft for a number of years and is also a well-known air show performer.

TROY – “Dumbfounded” probably best describes the reaction of the WACO Air Museum staff and members on Friday evening.

As day one of the the annual WACO Fly-In drew to a close, staff members received news from a pair of visiting patrons that they had a surprise for them.

Doug Jaffe, and his son Jordan, of Austin, TX, were in Troy for the fly-in. The pair had visited the museum a year, or so, ago, and were given a tour by Dave Bucher, president of the WACO Board of Trustees. The Jaffe’s were so impressed with the WACO Air Museum and Aviation Learning Center that they decided that they wished to make a donation.

The father and son gathered with WACO Air Museum officials and broke the news. The Jaffes presented the WACO Air Museum and Aviation Learning Center with a gift, a 2004 WACO Classic YMF-F5C, 3-seat aircraft.

The airplane’s tail number, or N-number, is N820WF. WACO Field is listed in FAA charts as 820 feet above sea level and the WF designation is WACO Field.

Doug Jaffe said that the airplane donation was a way to “give back” to aviation and an organization that worked hard to preserve aviation history.

Troy resident and WACO test pilot Bob Wagner, who for many years flew the now-retired, B.F. Goodrich WACO Taperwing in airshows around the country had the honor of flying the first “hop” with WACO’s new aircraft, was instrumental in helping the Jaffe family acquire and get rated in the WACO Classic.

Wagner went to Texas and spent time getting Jordan Jaffe comfortable with, and rated in, the WACO Classic. He insisted on donating his time.

Wagner’s first passengers for the WACO Air Museum and Aviation Learning Center’s new airplane were Gretchen Hawk, Director of the Air Museum and Nancy Royer, Director of the Aviation Learning Center.

In spite of one of the ladies losing a hat in the slipstream as they were climbing out, both were all smiles as they returned to the field. “It was amazing,” said Hawk, “It just made it all the more special to know that it was ours. That was the best plane ride that I’ve ever had!”

The shock of such a generous donation is still wearing off WACO Museum officials but tentative plans for the aircraft include public relations and public rides. One of the primary uses, according the Hawk, will be giving EAA Young Eagles rides.

The EAA Young Eagles program gives children the opportunity to get their first airplane ride. The program, which just began its 25th year, is currently chaired by Harrison Ford, who flew the 2,000,000th Young Eagle flight during AirVenture 2016 at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in July.

As Hawk, Royer, and Wagner were asked about their reaction to the unexpected donation by the Jaffes, all three, still trying to believe it is true, expressed the same sentiment, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

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