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WACO UPF-7 Testimonial

Over the years we have had the occasional privilege of an elder pilot approach us at a air show to share memories of their time and love of the WACO UPF-7. Watching them gaze upon the airplane you see ponderance of flights of past with a smile. On Monday of this week, we had the distinct pleasure of receiving an email from a gentleman who wished to share his experience with a UPF-7. Here is his message;

Dear Roy,

Your web site is very interesting reading to me. I loved the testimonial from Rod Marshal. Words that I heard growing up in Indiana with my father, Chester Hill.

My father was a Flight Instructor at Purdue University from late 1942 to summer 1945 for the US Navy Flight Instructor Program in the UPF-7. Later he started his own FBO in Crawfordsville, Indiana and had a UPF-7 of his own. He taught me to fly in a Citabria in 1969 after which I became an aerobatic instructor and eventually a Captain for United Airlines.

My father passed in 2001, but left a great impression on me not only in his flying abilities, but in his assessment of the UPF-7 in particular. As Rod Marshal told you, he also told me, it was the best airplane he had ever flown.

I got my chance to find out for my self when in October 1994 I flew NC32021 in Rockville, Indiana. Tom Flock was a friend of my father’s and rebuilt several UPF-7’s in the 1990’s and had called my father to ask if he had flown this particular one during his time teaching Navy Flight Instructors at Purdue. He found it in his log book with many entries in 1943-1945. So he took me to Rockville to see this Waco that he had actually flown during the War. I had flown many airplanes at this point in my life, including other biplanes, the Stearman, Grumman Ag Cats, Pitts S-1 and was currently a B767 pilot at United. When Tom Flock asked if I’d like to fly his recently completed fully restored Waco UPF-7 I jumped at the chance.

This was a major event in my life. Getting to fly the same plane that my father had flown so many years earlier when it was new, and the one he loved so much, I was in awe. I put it through the usual paces, stalls, spins, slow rolls, Cuban 8’s, and hammerheads, then brought it back for a landing at Tom’s 2200 ft. grass strip. After a little air show over the field for photos, I rolled out of my final slow roll to enter downwind. The engine did not restart as normal on the roll out, so from that point, on a close in downwind, I had a forced landing for my first shot in a Waco.   What amazed me was how stable this airplane was! Perfectly in trim in pitch, glide speed, on the money around 78mph. Only a slight slip was necessary on my curved approach to make the field and a three point touchdown, to roll out to a stop only halfway down the field.

All the time my father observing his son and previous student on his first Waco flight. He rode up in a pickup, and we towed the Waco back to the hanger. In 4500 hours of Waco flying he had never had to make a forced landing in one. I thanked him profusely for all of his engine out training. He had saved my day for sure.

We found out that evening when Tom inspected the engine issue, that a pin-hole leak was found in the solder joint in the brass carburetor float and that it had sunk causing the W670 Continental to rich out and quit.

Driving home that evening with my father I had time to talk about flying the UPF-7. I told him that in my flying career this UPF-7 was indeed the best flying airplane I had ever flown. Aerobatics were smooth, trim was always great, the landing flare was exceptional and it rolled straight. I simply loved the airplane.

More recently, in the last six years, I began instructing two men in their new Waco YMF-5C. I have enjoyed this experience, but in no way does it compare to the UPF-7. Hands down the UPF-7 was the culmination of Waco engineering and far superior in flight characteristics.

I wish you great success in your business, as you are doing the aviation world a great service in resurrecting the Best of All Wacos.

Very sincerely yours,

Robert C. Hill