In a previous Senior Voices segment, Andy Heins described his experience being among the first students involved in the desegregation of Dayton City Schools. His interview with Dayton Metro Library volunteer Nancy Messer also captured his memories of the famous small airplanes that were built in Troy, Ohio.
Andy Heins: I grew up in a family that was heavily involved in aviation. My father was a pilot from before World War II, all the way through World War II, and right up actually to the time that he passed away. Both my brothers are pilots, and I’m a pilot. And we restore antique airplanes.
And so it was an interesting life and I can remember my mom’s mother, she was a seamstress. I can remember her coming to the house and all these aircraft that we rebuilt are fabric covered. I can remember her on her back, sewing the fabric envelopes onto the airplanes, you know, out in the garage, ‘cause once you cover the aircraft with fabric and you put what’s called butyrate dope on it, well if you have extended periods of time exposed to that, you become high, and so they would be out in the garage you know and then they would be like they were drunk coming in the house and laughing and giggling and my father as well, and of course my grandmother on her back out in the garage.
The type of airplanes that we rebuilt were called Waco aircraft, and they were built in Troy, Ohio. They were the largest producer of airplanes in the United States from the late Twenties all the way through the Thirties. Waco quit building airplanes in about 1947, but they remained in business and did subcontracting work and that type of thing.
Well the company actually went out of business then about 1965. The company and al the building and everything which are all still in Troy, Ohio, that’s where the B.F. Goodrich plant is, it held an auction. Well of course my family went up there and came back with lots of things, including three airplanes that had never been sold by Waco, and so we had three of these airplanes in our yard.
Well, I became the most popular kid because I had the coolest toys for everybody to come play in, you know, and so that’s something, you know, that I’ll never forget.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer Dave Barber. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation.