The Waco Aircraft Corporation of Troy, Ohio was formed in 1929 from the Advance Aircraft Company which itself was formed from the previous Weaver Aircraft Company which first traded under the name Waco. George (Buck) Weaver, J. E. (Sam) Junkin and C. J. Brukner had formed the Weaver Aircraft Company at Lorain, Ohio in 1919.
The Waco 10 model of the Weaver Aircraft Company was the genesis of the O series which all used the Waco 10 fuselage. Waco adopted letter designations in 1929 as follows using the ATO model as example: before 1930 the initial letter stood for the engine used, The As were powered by the Wright J-5 Whirlwind of 220 Hp. The T represented a tapered wing shape (as opposed to S for straight wings), and the O stood for the 10 type fuselage. So, the Waco ATO was powered with a Wright J-5 Whirlwind with tapered wings on a 10 fuselage.
Continuing, the BSO was powered by a Wright R-540 of 175 Hp, the CSO by a Wright R-760 of 250 Hp, the DSO by Hispanos of 150-180 Hp, the HSO used a Packard R-980 of 225 Hp, the PSO by a Jacobs LA-1 of 170 Hp, the QSO by a Continental A-70 of 165 Hp, the featured ATO by a Wright J-5 of 220 Hp, and the rare CTO powered by a Wright R-760 of 250 Hp.
The Wright J-5 Whirlwind engine was one of the most reliable radials of its day. It got Charles Lindbergh, the 'Lone Eagle' from New York to Paris solo non-stop non-refueled in 1927 and powered the 1927 Collier Trophy winner.
The Waco ATO was designed by C. W. Meyers who with Waco distributor Johnny Livingston promoted the design by racing the ATO with spectacular results. The ATO Taperwings had a large following among sportsmen of the era including Tex Rankin, Jimmie Lund, Art Davis and Joe Mackey who performed aerobatic flight in Taperwing Wacos. The tapered wings, four ailerons and short wingspan all contributed to a quick roll rate.
NOTA BENE: N9553 illustrated here with upgraded engine is actually a much later model, the prototype NuWaco and carries the historic ATO nomenclature. It is powered with a Jacobs R755B of 275 Hp, with corresponding increase in performance.
Please Click on the picture adjacent to the immediate right to see the aircraft N9553 Profile Page with many more pictures of this beautiful prototype NuWaco ATO.
ORIGINAL Waco ATO
Engine: Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial of 220 Hp
Wingspan: 30.2 ft.
Length: 22.5 ft.
Wing Area: 227 sq. ft.
Empty Weight: 1,787 lbs.
Max. Weight: 2,600 lbs.
Vmax.: 125 mph
VCruise: 110 mph
VStall: 52 mph
Initial Climb Rate: 950 Ft./min.
Seating: pilot in rear cockpit with two passengers side by side forward
Price: FAF $8,525
The Waco ATO Taperwing is arguably one of the prettiest vintage biplanes. The rounded empennage complements perfectly the handsome wing taper. N9553 is the NuWaco prototype reproduction ATO regularly flown. The picture to the right taken on August 27, 2006 shows N9553 during landing practice near touchdown on Santa Paula's Runway 22. The picture to the right below shows the same aircraft overhead on short final for Runway 22 at SZP. The bottom picture to the right taken in front of N9553's hangar shows the beautifully rounded empennage.
I wish to thank Mike Smith for the information leading to the corrections in this article. More information is found in the added Comments section of the N9553 Profile page, found by clicking on the SMALLER TOP photo here.