OCR Aviation has officially parted ways with a special aircraft. The 2015 Waco has been something of an off-market treasure and centerpiece in our unique lot of turbo props, pistons, and light jets.
OCR acquired the classic biplane in 2020 via long-time customer and friend, George Schryer, who has owned four Wacos since the early 2000s. Rich Manor, Head of Sales at OCR and fellow aficionado, took his very first Waco flight with George, and has since logged hundreds of hours in the aircraft, trained several pilots, and filmed influential video content in the airplane for his YouTube channel, Flying with Rich.
George fitted N949GS with the latest avionics and custom designed the biplane’s memorable red, black, and silver paint job––not an unusual choice for Waco owners. Each aircraft is viewed as an individual work of art, and is highly customized in pursuit of attaining its owner's unique vision.
N949GS was the crown jewel in George’s 20 year history of Waco ownership, and a plane he flew himself up until he was 87 years old. It is the most current release in Waco Aircraft Company’s iterations, and maintains the company's impressive commitment to continual refinements in engineering––in this case an anterior pilot roll bar (meant to enhance safety and reliability) and a constant speed propeller option.
Meet the Waco's New Pilot Owner: Martin Prihoda
It was only a matter of time before the Waco’s rightful new owner pilot would enter orbit––and unsurprising to learn that said pilot, Martin Prihoda, is an accomplished career photographer with a strong eye for character in his professional subject matter.
Martin says he’s loved aviation just as much as photography/videography for as long as he can remember. He finally began flying in his early twenties, and was pursuing a commercial license in 2001 when his momentum was cut short by the 9/11 tragedy. Martin leaned back into photography, where success brought him all over the world, still carrying with him thoughts of aviation and the dream of one day owning an aircraft. His online Waco research led him to our YouTube Channel, Flying with Rich.
“When I saw this plane, it really reminded me of that golden era of aviation which I loved, and I think that Rich has that same passion. I was never a jet guy, I wouldn’t really want a private jet...I kind of just always wanted a biplane or something from the early thirties.”
The sentiment Martin and Rich share remembers a kind of flying that had more to do with the intimate relationship between pilot and aircraft than the modern luxuries of comfort and automation.
Rich even says that if he had to fly one plane for the rest of his life, it’d likely be a Waco or something very similar. For him, it’s all about the experience.
“The act of flying involves way more than taking off, turning the autopilot on, then turning it off again when you land, and the Waco is a huge departure from that. It would be a sin to put autopilot in a Waco.
Like any tailwheel airplane, you have to fly it from the moment you start the engine till the moment you land, or it will get away from you. I like the feeling of knowing that my skills are tight. Every landing requires engagement and a peak level sense of awareness until the moment you stop––it keeps you honest with your flying skills.”
It’s why Rich enjoys training new Waco pilots––he sees over automation as correlative to the decline in young pilots excited about learning to fly. Training people like Martin to fly Wacos re-introduces pilots to the thrill and skill of manning a spectacular piece of machinery––an experience they are in control of from start to finish.
“Rich is a really good instructor because he’s not overbearing, but he’s not underwhelming either. He’s kind of right in the middle for me, so he’ll push me just the right amount so that I’m still in my comfort zone. He’ll take the radios while I’m learning, and every time we fly he’ll pile on a little bit more. And, he’s calm. He’s super calm.”
Waco History | The Waco Company was founded in 1920 by an outfit of aviation comrades seeking opportunity in the unfolding sky-scape of World War II and the associated frenzy of machine advancements. Waco’s quarter-century production streak of now open cockpit and cabin biplanes really does mark the pinnacle of aviation’s golden era.
If you’d like to learn more about The Waco Company, below are some sources with more information on its history.