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WACO 10 (ATO) “Taperwing” – NC5814

The Waco 10 was developed in the mid 1920s, but was not the docile airplane designers had expected. In 1928, the aircraft underwent quite a remarkable transformation when the wings were swapped for a set of tapered wing panels. This alteration earned the airplane the nickname “Taperwing,” and the Waco 10 turned out to be a fabulous airplane. The Taperwing prototype was powered by a Curtiss OX-5 engine and became a proven success, and after replacing the engine with a Wright J5, the airplane finally realized its full performance potential.

The fuselage framework was built of welded crome-moly steel tubing, faired to shape with wood fairing strips and fabric covered. The wings were constructed of heavy-sectioned solid spruce spars with spruce and plywood ribs that were closely spaced for added strength and covered with fabric. Standard equipment included a metal propeller, wheel brakes, custom colors, and dual controls and the airplane came completely wired for lights.

EAA’s Taperwing is the oldest tapered wing Waco in existence. The Taperwing was manufactured in June of 1928 and purchased by Edmund von Henke. Edmund installed gyro attitude instruments in a cast aluminum panel and a Pioneer Earth Inductor Compass to permit virtually all weather flying.

Near the end of the Waco 10’s first year, the airplane was heavily damaged in a landing accident at Akron/Canton, Ohio. Edmund returned the W 10 to the manufacturer for extensive repairs that included changing the original Wright J-5 engine and Standard Steel propeller. It is possible that this Taperwing was one of the original straight wing Waco 10s and, upon return to the factory for repairs, became the first production model W 10 to be fitted with the newly developed tapered wings.

Over the course of time, the Taperwing fell though six different owners and two different registration numbers. Gerald Francis of Lansing, Michigan obtained the Waco 10 in 1942 and changed the registration number to N83J. He held on to the airplane until October of 1994, when he sold it to Walter Hill, who changed the registration number back to the original N5814. Walter Hill donated the Waco 10 to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 2003.

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