What started life as a classic 1929 Taperwing Waco biplane — the aircraft of choice for 1930s and 1940s-era barnstormers — was radically transformed into the jet-powered “Jet Waco,” a staple at air shows around the country since 2014. Now operated by RAD Aerosports of Valley City, North Dakota, the Jet Waco is still dazzling fans and performing maneuvers that would amaze its original pilots of the barnstorming era.
We caught up with RAD Aerosports owner, Jarrod Lindemann, who shared more about his air show company and the one-of-a-kind Jet Waco.
Hartzell: Many air show fans are familiar with the incredible sights and sounds of the Jet Waco. Can you share more about the aircraft’s technology and capabilities?
Jarrod Lindemann: We’re proud to fly the one and only jet-powered Waco in existence today. Our Jet Waco is powered by dual power plants: a Pratt & Whitney 985 radial engine and a General Electric CJ610 (J85) jet engine with 3,000 lbs. of thrust. Total thrust of the combined engines is rated at 4,500 lbs. A three-bladed Hartzell propeller is used to harness the power of the 985 radial. This system allows the plane to achieve feats most other aircraft are unable to do, along with reaching speeds up to 250 mph. Snap rolls, spins, barrel rolls, and the hover are among the list of maneuvers this aircraft can perform. And because the airplane has a thrust ratio of greater than 1 to 1, it’s able to accelerate in a vertical climb going straight up!
H: Aviation is clearly a big part of your life. Tell us about your background and how RAD came to fruition.
JL: I grew up immersed in aviation and was interested in flying from a very young age. Since becoming a pilot, I’ve accumulated thousands of hours in aircraft ranging from small pistons to corporate jets — anything I can get my hands on! I eventually took over the family business with aircraft maintenance and aerial ag application, building new facilities and expanding the business alongside my brother.
The idea for RAD came about after I met Dell Coller, an accomplished pilot, mechanic, and one of the original builders of the Jet Waco. We started to talk about a future vision of the air show world, and in 2019 the opportunity arose to purchase the Jet Waco (then known as “The Screamin’ Sasquatch”) from air show industry icon John Klatt, who has been a longtime friend and mentor to us throughout our air show careers.
Dell is now the Chief Mechanic and Head Pilot of the Jet Waco for RAD Aerosports. Together, we are continuing the Jet Waco’s journey with the goal to showcase and share our love of aviation with the next generation.
H: What’s next for RAD Aerosports and the Jet Waco?
JL: After completing our first full calendar year of air shows, our powerhouse team is ready to kick off the 2022 season! We have seven air shows scheduled for the Jet Waco and two for the Red Baron Super Stearman, with dates continuing to book up. We started our 2022 Aerial Spraying Season as well as practicing our new routine and sequence for our aerobatic aircraft.
RAD Aerosports is actively seeking primary sponsorship for the Jet Waco to continue building a unique and exciting brand of entertainment that blends old technology with new. Our vision is to help people of all ages develop lifelong skills of craftsmanship and work with their hands while learning about aviation. We’re also excited to give back to the community and are in the process of starting an outreach program for veterans or people struggling to find work or balance in their lives.
View the RAD Aerosports Air Show Schedule at Radaerosports.com