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This information comes from the listings of Non-Prefixed and Non-Suffixed aircraft reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.

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WACO 10-T NC8572

Registration Number NC8572

The Curse of Lake Michigan

This aircraft was a Waco 10-T (“taperwing”) with original manufacturer’s serial number A-82. The Advance Aircraft Company, Troy, OH built it on June 1, 1929. It left the factory at 2,600 lbs., with a 220 HP Wright Whirlwind J-5 engine S/N B-9827. It was a three-passenger airplane that visited the Airfield twice.

It sold on May 29, 1929 to John H. Livingston of Aurora, IL. Mr. Livingston was a well-known air racer of the era. He is the pilot for whom Richard Bach named "Jonathan Livingston Seagull". See NC6586 for an airplane Livingston flew.

Livingston sold the Waco on July 18, 1929 to Duncan Hodges of Lake Forest, IL, then on September 12, 1929 it transferred to fine artist Ralph Fisher Skelton of Chicago. You can see photographs at Skelton's page of what is probably NC8572. We find pilot Skelton with NC8572 at Tucson on January 27, 1930 westbound from El Paso, TX to San Diego, CA. A couple of weeks later, on February 10, 1930 he is eastbound from Yuma, AZ to El Paso, TX. Both times he carried passenger Jerry Wood.

Skelton flew NC8572 for a while and in April 1930 ground looped the airplane. It required two new wing struts. April was not a good month. A notation on the record states, “Ship and pilot disappeared over Lake Michigan on or about April 12, 1930.” Why?

Current aerial navigation charts of the Lake Michigan area specifically caution pilots about the possible loss of horizontal reference while over the Lake: the sky and water blend in the distance without linear definition of a horizon. It is easy for an inexperienced pilot (or an experienced pilot without a gyroscopic horizon) to suffer disorientation and vertigo under such a circumstance. As it is now, so it was then. The airplane’s registration was cancelled May 22, 1930.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 08/05/05 REVISED: 01/04/09

 
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