MIAMI COUNTY —There’s no place like home.
The 20th annual Waco Air Museum’s Fly-in welcomed more than a dozen planes back home this weekend.
All the way from Barrington, New Hampshire, American Airlines pilot John Ricciotti, and his wife Pupae, flew their historic 1934 Waco S3HD back to its birth place of Troy, Ohio.
“We always come to this fly-in because the airplane was built here. We always come back to its home,” Ricciotti said.
Ricciotti shared how he acquired the one-of-a-kind prototype plane five years ago to add to his personal aircraft collection.
“It was a fighter bomber. This was the prototype. They sold 11 other copies to Central American and South American air forces. This was built for a very wealthy man in New York City right in the middle of the Great Depression,” he shared.
Ricciotti said the one of kind aircraft cost as much as three regular Wacos “with $2,000 left over” to bring to life how expensive the aircraft was in its time.
Ricciotti shared how a family friend in Rochester, N.H. owned the navy blue and gold Waco plane for 47 years before selling the aircraft to the Ricciottis.
“It’s special coming back home with the airplane. We go to a lot of fly-ins, about six or seven a year, all antique fly-ins. this is great because it’s coming home,” he said. “It’s a small ‘family.’ They do a great job here in Troy. Waco was an amazing manufacturer of airplanes, the largest in the world in the 1930s. That’s big statistic considering Boeing was around, Cessna was around…but Waco was the biggest.”
Ricciotti said he enjoys owning a “special” Waco since it was the only manufactured in the world.
“They only built one and it’s this one,” he said.
Ricciotti said owning and maintaining the 83 year-old aircraft is a “labor of love” spending the winters working on the plane to enjoy it throughout the warmer months.
The Ricciottis store the aircraft at an antique airport in Illinois, which is full of vintage aircraft including 22 Waco planes, he said.
“We base it there so we can come here which only takes a few hours,” he said. “We hit all these fly-ins …but this is a special one.”
Ricciotti said his father was a mechanic in the airline industry and he helped restore a wrecked Cessna with his father in his youth.
“Once you get (a Waco), you never get rid of them. There’s nothing like them,” he said. Ricciotti shows off the cotton fabric wrapped wings which was recovered back in 1964.
“The fabric on the airplane is 53 years old but its been stored indoors and taken care of…it just has had a phenomenal life,” he said. “It’s in really good shape still.”
This annual fly-in features food, vintage aircraft from all over the world, a chance to take an ride in open cockpit biplanes and more. The fly-in takes place through Sunday at the WACO Air Museum, 1865 S. County Road 25-A in Troy and admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children. A weekend pass is available for $10. Parking is free.
Saturday’s events include children activities at 10 a.m. and the famous “Parade of Wacos” at 1 p.m. A candy drop from the RC planes will be held at 2 p.m. Bi-plane rides end at 4 p.m. The banquet will close Saturday evening at 6 p.m.
Sunday’s events include bi-plane rides all day. A farewell parade of the departing Waco’s will begin at 10 a.m. Premier Health Careflight will be at the museum from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. World War I planes and Dayton Ultralights will be featured from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The field closes at 6 p.m. to conclude the weekend festivities.
For details, visit www.wacoairmuseum.org.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews