A Waco's Happy Ending
How an abandoned World War II glider found love in Long Island.
- By Joshua Stoff
- Air & Space magazine, September 2002
NASM Neg. #2002-3809
(Page 2 of 4)
The pilots of these remarkable craft were often students who had washed out of fighter or bomber training. They were, however, trained well enough to make at least one successful landing. Similarly, the gliders themselves were considered throwaway aircraft, used once and rarely retrieved. Of the nearly 15,000 built, only five or six survive.
This aircraft had always intrigued me, and I felt I had to have one for our collection. Of the 16 companies that had produced CG-4s, two had been located here on Long Island—General Aircraft in Queens and Dade Brothers in Mineola, together producing about 1,000. In fact, our museum’s founder was Dade Brothers’ George Dade, and he continually prodded me to locate a glider carcass to restore. After a couple of years of fruitless phone calls and letter writing, I placed my ad in Trade-A-Plane.
I failed to receive a single letter in response. Considering how few had survived the war, I was not surprised. However, about a month later, someone who had seen the ad called me. An airline pilot, whose name I’m sad to say I’ve forgotten, told me that as he was driving outside the small village of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, near the Pocono Mountains, he thought he saw the bones of a troop glider lying in a farmer’s field. I was astonished—not just that he had made the effort to call me, but that he had actually identified the remains as a CG-4.
Before the week was out, George Dade and I were headed west toward Pennsylvania, not knowing exactly what side of town the farm was on or even who owned it.
After a drive of just over three hours, gradually transitioning from the suburbs of New York City to the fertile farmland of eastern Pennsylvania, we passed a sign stating “Nazareth 1 mile.” We began to keep our eyes peeled.
Suddenly my jaw dropped and I slammed on the brake. About 100 feet to the right lay the complete nose and main fuselage section of a Waco CG-4 troop transport glider.
We pulled over, got out, and walked to the nearby farmhouse. A knock on the door brought forth an ancient farmer, who was amazed to learn that someone had traveled all the way from New York just to look at his pile of rusted scrap. It turned out that the farmer (who no longer farmed) had purchased the glider as war surplus in 1946 for $75 from an Army depot in Pennsylvania. He had no interest in the aircraft, only in the three large and sturdy crates it came in, which he turned into chicken coops. As for the glider, he dumped it in the field, where it rusted away for the next 40 years. Gradually it became covered in weeds, and as its fabric skin deteriorated, small trees sprouted and grew through its steel-tube frame.
A sale price of $150 was quickly agreed upon. I suspect the farmer thought he had really hoodwinked a couple of slick New Yorkers—not only were we willing to take away his pile of junk, we would even pay him good money to do it.