1930 Waco RNF

Designed to provide high performance on nominal horsepower, the F-series (models RNF, KNF, and INF) aircraft were smaller and significantly more efficient than previous Waco designs. The F models were offered with four different Warner or Kinner radial engines, ranging from 100-125 horsepower.

In contrast to the larger biplanes and heavy OX5 engines of the 1920s, the Waco ‘F’ series breezed into the market in 1930 with the same high performance as a larger biplane but much lighter, half the price, and at half the operating cost than its predecessors.

The stock market crash of 1929 put many small aircraft companies out of business. In contrast, in 1930 the Waco Aircraft Company of Troy, Ohio, introduced the Model F. This compact, efficient design is arguably what kept the company in business during the Great Depression; over 600 aircraft were built and sold in the early 1930s. The RNF was available in vermillion, blue, or green fuselage with silver wings.

This Plane’s Story

Built in 1930, N603Y was purchased right off the factory line in Ohio by Charles Taliaferro (pronounced “Tolliver”) as a present for his teenaged son, Charles “Champe” Taliaferro. Already a skilled pilot, Champe immediately embarked upon a trans-continental flight with his aviator friend Bayard Sharp, flying from eastern Pennsylvania to Hollywood, California, then back via Texas, Mexico City, Cozumel, and across the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba, then Florida and up the east coast to Philadelphia.

Finding airfields, refueling, and navigating across the relatively untamed country, the trip across the continent took more than a month. Adventures abounded: In Arizona, the boys decided to drop in to the Grand Canyon – literally, flying down into the canyon itself. Champe climbed out on to the wing to use his movie camera, leaving Bayard to fly from the front seat. Struggling to keep the airplane level with Champe out on the wing, Bayard coaxed him back into the cockpit and they barely had the horsepower to climb out of the canyon in time.

In the 1960s local pilot Don Wichelt purchased the RNF in the San Francisco Bay area while flying for United Airlines, and flew it to Brodhead, where it has remained ever since. N603Y was later owned by Bill and Sue Knight of Brodhead, namesakes of this Kelch Museum building, who had the plane restored to its present condition by Tom Brown of Hartford, Wisconsin. Brodhead native Jayson Ayres now owns N603Y and has generously placed it on display here at the Kelch Aviation Museum.

  • Engine: Warner “scarab”; 145 horsepower
  • Wing Span: 29’6” upper, 27’5” lower
  • Max gross weight: 1,897 lbs.
  • Price New: $4,250
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