The 1933 Waco UIC is a classic cabin aircraft design from the golden age of aviation. Its stable construction provided forgiving flight characteristics and moderate performance. Throughout its entire development, the Waco cabin series remained almost identical in its basic configuration with yearly upgrades of engines, streamlining, equipment, and creature comforts, similar to the auto industry, which kept the price reasonable for prospective owners. As one of Waco's most successful styles, the UIC was popular as a corporate aircraft with famous names such as Jacqueline Cochran, Henry Dupont, and Gar Wood.
The aircraft in the NASM collection was the second UIC built, and went through a succession of owners on the West Coast. Its last owner restored the airplane in 1976 with new fabric and an engine overhaul, and used it in his oil pipeline business before donating it to the Museum in 1979.
By the late 1920s, Waco was already famous for its series of civilian open-cockpit biplanes, and so, in 1931, it decided to enter the highly competitive executive or commercial cabin class market. The competitors in this area were Bellanca, Stinson, Travel Air, and Fairchild, all of whom were already well established in this segment of the market. The 1933 UIC is one of Waco's successful cabin styles and is a classic cabin aircraft design of the golden age of flight era.
George "Buck" Weaver, Charlie Meyers, Clayton Bruckner, and Elwood Junkin formed the Weaver Aircraft Company in Lorain Ohio, in 1920. In 1923, they renamed it the Advance Aircraft Company and moved to Troy, Ohio. After Weaver's death in 1924, Bruckner and Junkin took over and produced the successful Waco 9, or Nine, soon followed by the Waco 10 and the Taperwing. In June 1929, they changed the name to the Waco Company.
The first of the Waco cabin airplanes was the 1931 four-place QDC cabin biplane. The UIC configuration was the same as the QDC but represented a major upgrade. The UIC cabin was a four-place cabin biplane powered by a 210 hp Continental seven-cylinder radial engine and a conventional fixed tail wheel landing gear. Automobile-type doors on each side provided entry into the luxuriously upholstered cabin, with two individual front seats and a spacious bench seat in the rear to accommodate two passengers. The airplane came equipped with a full set of flight and engine instruments and a wheel control yoke that could be swung from the pilot to the copilot position during flight. Improvements included more windows, more rounded lines and the addition of fillets and wheel pants. The original Model C ring cowl was also replaced with a full-length NACA bump cowl. These refinements, and the initial price of $6,000, made the UIC an immediate hit with a long list of prominent pilots of the era.
The Waco Company developed a model designation system that was worthy of a cryptographer. The first letter of the designation represented the engine, the second was the wing type, and the third, the fuselage type. The key to each letter hinged on whether the aircraft was a pre- or post-1930 aircraft, because the letter designations changed in 1930. There were about twenty-one engine designations and the wing designations were confusing. The UIC, built in 1933, was Continental-powered, Clark-Y wing, and custom, rather than standard or otherwise, equipped aircraft. There were also three-letter designations for open-cockpit aircraft and other models.
The UIC construction was typical for that era with welded steel tubing that was faired to a well-rounded shape by means of plywood formers and wood stringers. The wing was constructed of solid spruce spars with spruce and plywood ribs and aluminum leading and trailing edges. The tail assemblies were of welded steel tubing and the metal-framed ailerons were covered with aluminum. There were ailerons on both wings that were interconnected by push-pull struts that operated them in pairs. The main landing gear had oleo shock absorbers and the wheels were equipped with mechanical brakes. The entire airplane was covered with Grade A cotton fabric. The airplane was stable, with forgiving flight characteristics and moderate performance.
Waco produced 83 UIC models before it was replaced by the further improved UKC/YKC/CJC series in 1934. It was popular as a corporate aircraft with famous names such as Jacqueline Cochran, Henry Dupont, and Gar Wood. Throughout its entire development, the Waco cabin series remained almost identical in its basic configuration with yearly upgrades of engines, streamlining, equipment, and creature comforts, similar to the custom of the auto industry. Thus, because the initial quality and design were retained, the price remained reasonable. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Waco cabin plane faced stiff competition from the Beech Staggerwing, the Gullwing Stinson Reliant, and the newly developed Howard DGA, but Wacos held their market with style. Production of all Waco civilian aircraft was halted in 1942 because of due to wartime production.
UIC NC13062, serial number 3715, completed on March 20, 1933, was the second UIC built. It had a vermilion fuselage with the engine cowl, vertical tail, wings, and horizontal tail finished in silver. The registration numbers were finished in black. An Alameda, California, distributor first sold the airplane to Frank K. Jackson of Oakland, and it then had a series of west-coast owners. The last owner, John A. Masek of Casper, Wyoming, used it his oil pipeline business. Masek restored the aircraft in 1976 with new fabric and an engine overhaul before donating it to the Museum. Two of Masek's pilots, who were used to flying the aircraft at 500-foot altitudes over pipelines, flew the aircraft from Wyoming to Andrews Air Force Base in two days, arriving on December 5, 1979.
As delivered to the Museum, the airplane is not equipped as it was originally built. Besides a different paint scheme, it has had some modification of the cabin area, which includes a change in the rear cabin window arrangement, different upholstery, and an updating of the instrument panel. A smooth engine cowling from a Cessna Bobcat trainer encircles the engine instead of an original bump style cowling, and the modern strobe light installed on top of the vertical fin is not original.