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New Jet-Powered Biplane In The Works

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Photo by Scott Russell

Photo by Scott Russell

After a dismal airshow season this year, with many events canceled due to the grounding of military show teams, planning is already under way for a better year in 2014, and this week John Klatt Airshows unveiled a new aerobatic biplane that will debut in the spring with jet power. The 1929 Taperwing Waco, featured at the opening of the International Council of Air Shows convention in Las Vegas on Monday, will fly with a Pratt & Whitney 985 radial engine plus a GE CJ610 (J85) jet engine with 3,000 pounds of thrust. The combined power will produce a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1 to 1, which allows it to accelerate going straight up, according to Klatt.

Klatt is not the first airshow performer to strap a jet engine onto a biplane. The late Jimmy Franklin did it in 1999, with a 1940 Waco. That airplane was able to take off in less than 50 feet, pull vertical, and accelerate with a climb rate of more than 10,000 feet per minute, according to the Franklin Air Show website. The airplane flew for seven years, but was destroyed in the crash that took Franklin's life, in 2005. Klatt, a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, has served for more than 20 years, flying combat, air support and humanitarian missions throughout the world in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the C-130 Hercules aircraft. The Waco also will be flown by Jeff Boerboon, a former U.S. Unlimited Aerobatics Champion.

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