The Waco UIC #3768 aircraft was originally completed on June 9th, 1933, and delivered to its first owner, George Willis of Great Neck, New York. A few years later, after a brief personal ownership by legendary test pilot Vane Breese, it was sold to Charles Knox and Robert Tyce, co-owners of K-T Flying service Ltd. From 1938 to 1947, K-T Flying Service operated this Waco from their base at John Rogers Field, in Honolulu.
After creating K-T Flying Service in 1934, Bob Tyce became personally responsible for training a large number of civilian pilots in the Pacific. For primary training, they used Piper J-3 Cubs and three fleet bi-planes. In addition to flight training, K-T performed sightseeing flights, out-island charter services and non-scheduled cargo service. Bob and Charles added the Waco UIC to the fleet at the beginning of 1938. By 1941, under the auspices of the Civilian Flight Training Program, a large portion of the K-T’s business was private flight training for military personnel hoping to transfer to the Army and Navy.
On December 7th, 1941, Bob Tyce was near his Piper J3C Cubs and this Waco UIC at the John Rogers Airfield when he was strafed by two Akagi Zeros in-route to Hickam Field. His death was the result of a single Japanese machine-gun round to the neck. The bullet tore open his carotid artery and his wife, Edna, a trained nurse, was unable to stop the bleeding. Bob Tyce became the first American civilian casualty of WWII during the attack on Pearl Harbor. K-T Flying Service had two Piper J3C Cubs in the air that morning. These were rented by soldiers assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery Regiment. Both aircraft were shot down by Japanese fighters and the three soldiers in them are still listed as MIA.
On December 8th, the US War Department grounded all civilian aircraft in the Hawaiian Islands and on the west coast of California. The final entry in the Waco logbook for KT Flying Service indicates that the aircraft was dismantled on that date after flying a total of 9.35 hours between December 1st and 7th, 1941.
Now in the hands of the American Heritage Museum, the Waco UIC will be kept in flying condition at our home base in Stow, Massachusetts. You can see it along with other amazing historic aircraft during one of our living history event weekends.