MOUNT VERNON — The annual Waco reunion at Wynkoop Airport brings in unique planes and people every year. The annual event feels more like a long-awaited family reunion for the pilots of the 80-year old aircrafts and their families. Bob and Barb Perkins of Catawba, North Carolina, look forward to the fly-in every year.
Bob began flying over 30 years ago, with an ultralight plane, and officially got his pilot’s license in 1984, but flying was always in his blood.
“My dad had an airplane when I was little,” he said. “He was a smoker, so when I rode with him in the cockpit he would smoke and I would always get sick, so I didn’t think I really liked it very much. But he died young, and I decided I wanted to fly.”
Not only is Bob an accomplished pilot, but he also builds planes himself. He has previously built a fiberglass plane, but with his adventures with Barb, more luggage space was needed, which got them looking into purchasing a Waco.
“That little airplane (fiberglass plane) was like a Ferrari as opposed to (the Waco) a station wagon,” Barb said. “It was very fast and there was very little room to bring anything like luggage; there was no storage whatsoever. But we flew it for 10 years and we loved it.”
After deciding that he wanted to pursue aerobatics, Bob purchased an open-cockpit biplane. “Which again, was tons of fun, but storage was nonexistent,” Barb said. “And it was windy and if it was cold out, you were cold.”
Ten years with the open-cockpit plane proved enough and the pair bought a model AGC-8 Waco. This plane was originally designed in 1938 and built in September 1939. It has flown all over the country and even internationally, as the original owner flew it to Havana, Cuba, in February 1940. Like the Perkinses, the original owner was from North Carolina, just 40 miles away from the couple, in Charlotte.