Jet Waco 1

The Waco N2369Q was the original Waco Jimmy Franklin bought in 1967. It was flown with the original 220 Continental engine for several years, then upgraded to a 330 Jacobs engine, then to a 450 Pratt & Whitney when it became the "Jolly Roger." After the "Jolly Roger" was damaged, Jimmy was already in the process of building another Waco. The Waco Mystery Ship debuted in the early to mid 70's and was an immediate hit.

In the mid 80's, after the success of "Zar", Jimmy rebuilt the "Jolly Roger" with a monster 600 horsepower 1340 Pratt & Whitney engine. It had three possible cockpits, symmetrical wings, re-enforced fuselage, extra flying and landing wires, and lots of other little additions to make this one mean airplane. Now with two Wacos, Jimmy and fellow pilot Eliot Cross began performing together as the "Dueling Wacos."

In the mid 90's the "Jolly Roger" was sent to Steve Wolf for minor repairs and to have a new engine installed. The engine that was to be installed was not a radial engine, but a 550 hp Supercharged V12 Ranger engine. This was to give the Waco a more stream line fuselage, increase speed, power, and vertical penetration. But do to lack of time and money, the V12 was never installed and a 450 P&W was put on in it's place (both Wacos now have 450 P&W's). During the time the "Jolly Roger" was down, Jimmy continued to fly the Waco "Mystery Ship" at airshows across North America.

In 1996 Jimmy got to talking with long time friend and fellow airshow performer Les Shockley, creator of the “Shock Wave” jet trucks, about an idea that had been in his mind for almost 20 years. Jimmy wanted to put a jet engine under the belly of the Waco along with the 450 horse power Pratt & Whitney radial prop engine. This idea had originally come with the creation of ZAR. A Jet Waco was going to be ZAR's starship, but when he started asking engineers about doing this, he kept getting responses like "Jimmy, I wouldn't do that if I were you" or "There's no way that would fly." So instead, he went with the Aerostar as his Starship "Pride". But now Jimmy was talking with the person who could make the Jet Waco happen. As Jimmy would tell it "Les's eyes got really big and he said, “Bring it to Kansas and lets do it!" Once the Waco was brought to Kansas, it took Shockley less then 6 months to install the jet. It was a General Electric J-85 (CJ-610) producing an amazing 3000 pounds of thrust. This is the same engine that is used in the military T-38 fighter trainers. The plane itself still had about a months worth of work that needed to be done before it could be test flown. Then in the middle of the 1997 airshow season the Waco "Mystery Ship" inadvertently had the gear knocked out from under it at an airshow. To finish the season, Jimmy was going to need the other Waco. With no time to test fly with the jet, the jet engine was removed and the plane was ready to fly in 3 days to make the show the next weekend. At the start of 1998 season Jimmy ran into another problem, a heart problem.

Jimmy had a bad valve in is heart, and for most pilots this would mean the end of their flying careers. But with the help of another airshow pilot, Doctor Ray Vetsch and Freeman Heart Institute in Joplin, MO, Jimmy had the surgery and had his medical back in less the 6 months; just in time to test fly his newly built Jet Waco.

Everything went perfectly, with the exception of the jet exhaust burning a hole in the asphalt. With both engines turning full power, the Jet Waco would put out over 4500 pounds of thrust at over 2000 horsepower. With Jimmy at the controls, this looney airplane could take off in less then 50 feet, pull vertical and accelerate with a climb rate of over 10,000 feet per minute. Jimmy debuted the Jet Waco on June 18, 1999 at the Deke Slaton Airshow in LaCross, WI, with his son Kyle as the world's first jet wingwalker.

Over the next 7 years the Franklins and the Jet Waco became one of the most sought after acts in the airshow world. Jimmy developed new maneuvers that only he could do in the Jet Waco and in 2002 was one of the original founding members of the X-Team and the "Masters of Disaster."

Tragically in the middle of the 2005 season, Jimmy and long-time friend Bobby Younkin, along with both the Jet Waco and the Wolf "Samson" were lost while performing the "Masters of Disaster" in Canada.

  • The Jet Waco (N2369Q) was the same Waco Jimmy saw in an airplane magazine when he was 12 years old and fell in love with, and is the same plane he bought at age 19 to start his 38 year airshow career. Only one other person ever flew the Jet Waco and that is Jimmy's son Kyle.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 2
  • Length: 24 ft (7.3 m)
  • Upper wingspan: 30 ft (9.1 m)
  • Lower wingspan: 26 ft (7.9 m)
  • Gross weight: 3,300 lb (1,497 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-985 air cooled, 500 hp (Expression error: Unexpected < operator. kW)
  • Powerplant: 1 × GE CJ610-6 Military J-85 jet, 2,000 hp (Expression error: Unexpected < operator. kW)


  • Rate of climb: 10,000 ft/min (
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