Work on learning center by WACO museum reignited

Society honors the WACO Aircraft Co. of Troy.

TROY - After a $1 million donation in 2017 to build a WACO Aviation Learning Center got the construction project off the ground, it ran into delays thanks to the COVID pandemic.

The delays stretched over the COVID years until last fall when the WACO Historical Society celebrated the 100th anniversary of the WACO Aircraft Co. with a series of events at the WACO Air Museum — operated with an airfield and the shell of the Aviation Learning Center on South County Road 25A between Troy and Tipp City.

“The big breakthrough was the 100th anniversary fly-in held in September,” said Nancy Royer, executive director of the WACO Air Museum and Aviation Learning Center.

The WACO organization had been setting aside money during the lull in activity and donations received from WACO supporters at the celebration helped restart the project.

The $1 million donation was made in 2017 by Troy residents Pat and Thom Robinson

Construction started in 2018, but the project “stalled out during COVID,” Royer said. In the past nearly six years, “pricing has increased tremendously,” she added.

The plan now is to use available dollars to build the interior of the learning center to allow for partial occupancy by late spring and early summer. The space the project will provide is desperately needed for WACO to continue education programs for area youth, including popular robotics offerings. There have been added demands for existing space in the museum building and the Willis Wing with donations of additional WACO aircraft to the organization, Royer said.

While the learning center won’t have “a glamour look yet” after phase one, “we can get in there for the classes for kids,” she said. Paint, final flooring and decorations along with additional restrooms and other space will be covered in project phase two. When that work will begin with depend on raising additional funding, said Royer and Jim McGarry of the WACO museum/learning center board.

Support for the projects has come from WACO members, volunteers and the community, among others. Work on the learning center is being led by Bruns Contracting.

Activities in coming weeks at the WACO site will include events for the April 8 total solar eclipse, said Royer. The property will offer camping along with other activities.

The museum and learning center always can use more volunteers, including for outdoor tasks this spring. Anyone who is interested is asked to call 937-335-9226.

The facility is operated by the nonprofit WACO Historical Society. The society honors the WACO Aircraft Co. of Troy, the largest manufacturer of civil aircraft in the country in the 1920s and early 1930s. WACO also built gliders during World War II.

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