Award-Winning WACO YKC Restorers Killed in Kansas Crash

Dave and Jeanne Allen’s 1934 biplane was one of the most photographed airplanes in the vintage aviation world.

Dave and Jeanne Allen, in front of their 1934 WACO YKC. [Courtesy: Meg Godlewski]

Antique aircraft owners Dave and Jeanne Allen, the owners of a 1934 WACO YKC (N14137), were killed Sunday when their aircraft crashed in a field in Selden, Kansas.

The accident airplane, the teal cabin-class model, was one of the most photographed airplanes in the vintage aviation world. 

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, the accident happened around 6:10 p.m. CDT north of Hoxie in the northwest corner of the state. The aircraft caught fire after the crash. Dave was 78, and Jeanne was 79. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating.

The Allens, from Elbert, Colorado, were both accomplished pilots. Dave was a retired airline pilot, and Jeanne flew gliders. They were particularly fond of WACO aircraft and had transformed several projects from piles of scrap to award winners at Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo and EAA AirVenture.


The Allens’ YKC was delivered to Ohio state officials in November 1934 to be used as executive transport. In 1939, the state sold the airplane to a private individual who flew it until July 1948 when it was heavily damaged in a nose-over. The aircraft would not fly again for decades. The Allens acquired the project in 2003 and spent the better part of a decade restoring it.

[Courtesy: Meg Godlewski]

The teal-colored WACO was meticulously detailed, down to the period-correct state of Ohio seal on the fuselage and a 1930s-style brass fire extinguisher in the cabin along with the steering-wheel-style yoke.

When the aircraft was on display at fly-ins, the Allens would often set up wooden lawn chairs under the shade of the wing and have a table with iced tea and a Bakelite radio playing big band jazz. Dressed in period-correct clothing, they would answer visitors’ questions about the aircraft and allow them to peruse an old-style photo album that chronicled the aircraft's journey from pile of parts to award winner.

[Courtesy: Meg Godlewski]

The preliminary report from NTSB should be available in approximately two weeks. The final report with the probable cause of the accident, if one can be determined, is at least 18 months out.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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