MOUNT VERNON — “I guess I missed my timeline” is David Tindell’s idea of an understatement.
In the early ’90s, the corporate pilot from Richmond, Va., was looking for a vintage aircraft that would be fun to fly and comfortable for family trips. He was thinking of an open-cockpit biplane, his wife not so much. They settled on a cabin-type biplane, and in 1994 he found a long-neglected 1938 WACO EGC-8 Custom Cabin, literally in hundreds of pieces, scattered around a Minnesota barn.
His son was 3 years old at the time, and Tindell estimated that he could bring the five-passenger “tail dragger” back to life in time for his eighth birthday. With daily life and the time it took to overcome various insurmountable mechanical challenges, five years became 10, then 15, and then 18. He finally got the WACO airborne on March 5, just about the time his son earned a master’s degree from Louisiana State University.
It was a long time coming, but from the reaction of Tindell’s fellow enthusiasts at this week’s National WACO Reunion at Wynkoop Airport, it was well worth the wait. With a 350 horsepower, supercharged seven-cylinder Wright Whirlwind radial engine hiding beneath the cowling, the beige and black classic gleamed in the afternoon sunlight Thursday as he discussed the plane’s long and somewhat mysterious heritage.