Even if Alan Hoeweler of Cincinnati, Ohio, hadn’t had his 1927 Waco taperwing on display as part of the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s “Best of the Best” contest at AirVenture, the airplane would have gotten a lot of attention from the air show crowds.
The first-ever Best of the Best competition featured five vintage, airworthy airplanes that had won awards at other shows. The competition was open to former recipients of the Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy, the Hall of Fame’s “People’s Choice” trophy, or from one of the three competition category trophies: antique, classic or warbird.
During Oshkosh, attendees voted for the people’s choice of the Best of the Best.
While Hoeweler’s Waco didn’t take top honors at Oshkosh this year, it had won a Rolls Royce Trophy in 2004.
Hoewler, who has owned the Waco since 1990, is the airplane’s 10th owner.
“Every airplane you see here was a restoration and it flew in, including this one,” he said during AirVenture with pride. “Some of the restoration work was done in house, other things, like the engine, we sent out.
“This is a pretty famous airplane,” he continued. “It has a lot of history. It has been owned by a number of pretty famous aviators, such as Freddy Lund, Betty Lund and Art Davis. It was flown by Charles Lindbergh at one time.”
The Waco has always been a working airplane, according to Hoeweler.
“It raced in the Cleveland Air Races in the 1930s and it did skywriting in St. Louis,” he said. “It’s been to Hawaii. It was mortgaged three times during the Depression by Betty Lund.”
More recently, says Hoeweler, the airplane has been used in Hollywood.
“It has been in a few commercials and movies,” he said. “It was in the ‘Pancho Barnes Story,’ a TV movie with Valerie Bertinelli. This was her airplane when she was Pancho Barnes.”
Hoeweler has been flying since 1971. “I fly for fun,” he said.
Visitors to the National Aviation Hall of Fame exhibit at AeroShell Square were invited to vote for their favorite airplanes. Concerned that the visitors wouldn’t be able to see into the open cockpit airplane without climbing up the side, Hoeweler arranged for a scaffold to be placed at the side of the Waco to allow easy access.
“That way they can see and didn’t have to grab the side of the airplane to get up,” he said with a smile.
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