|Pemberton & Sons Aviation's gleaming Waco EQC-6 will be on the flightline in Vintage this year at Oshkosh.
July 2, 2013 - Addison Pemberton, owner of Pemberton & Sons Aviation based at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, has restored and rebuilt more than 16 vintage airplanes. Perhaps the most noteworthy was the 1928 Boeing 40C reproduction that was completed in 2007 and flew away with the Gold Lindy at Oshkosh in 2008.
Pemberton will return to AirVenture this year with his latest gem, a 1936 Waco EQC-6, one of the world's three flying examples out of 20 airplanes originally built. As Pemberton explained, he got "Waco fever" after the successful restoration of the 40, and began looking for a suitable airplane to restore.
"I fell in love with the Waco 6 and 7 cabin models," Pemberton explained. This was Waco's answer to the Howards and Beech Staggerwings of the day, from the company's Custom Cabin series. It was originally a DQC model, equipped with the Wright R-760-E1 engine, and the first owner was the Howard Aircraft Company, perhaps checking out the competition.
A year later it was sold to the Okanogan Air Service in Washington, then was acquired by Wallace Air Service, a flight school, coincidentally located on Pemberton's home airport, Spokane's Felts Field. After relocating to Missoula, Montana, in the 1950s, it was recovered and swapped the E1 engine to a Wright R-760-E2 - thus becoming an EQC.
He ultimately discovered one from the family of Stan Gomall in Wisconsin, which owned the airplane from 1962-2008.
Coincidentally, Pemberton says he camped next to Stan in 1979, a fact discovered from a photograph. "My wife and I had our picture taken with our Cessna 170 that year, and next to us was Stan's Waco," he said.
The original plan was to disassemble and truck the plane back to Spokane from Wisconsin. After inspecting it, they learned that the seven-cylinder Wright R-760-E32 Whirlwind engine (originally the J-6 Whirlwind Seven) had been overhauled in 1992 and there weren't a lot of hours on it since. So they put on some new fuel lines and performed other maintenance, enabling Pemberton to ferry the Waco back to Spokane - about 12 hours of flight time.
The 760 featured larger cylinders than Wright's nine-cylinder R-790, and it's supercharged, allowing the smaller powerplant to produce up to 350 hp.
The restoration took three years and involved stripping the plane down to its frame, sandblasting and painting, then recovering. Both upper wings are new, but they were able to save the lowers. The completely restored interior is showroom-new.
The airplane has been to the annual EAA convention many times, a fact revealed by the numerous EAA stickers on the windows - some so old they said "Rockford."
Pemberton said they had a significant challenge with oil spraying from the engine's breather tube caused by the change from a fixed-pitch to a constant-speed prop. Pemberton said Mike Conner and others in the vintage community came up with the solution to create another breather and the problem was solved. "It's been 70 hours of joy since then," he said.
As for its flying qualities, Pemberton says the Waco flies great - a nice cruiser at 150 mph. Top speed is 176 mph. Its 94-gallon fuel capacity provides a decent range of 700 miles. The airplane really comes into its own at 10,000 to 12,000 feet, Pemberton said. Service ceiling is listed at 19,000 feet.
Other than a locking tail wheel, Cleveland brakes, and modern gyros and radios, the airplane is pretty much stock, Pemberton said. Look for this piece of history, NC1659, sporting Northwest Airways livery, in the Vintage aircraft area this year at AirVenture.