Douglas A/B-26 Invader

Spirit of Waco

HOME | SUB INDEX | Preface | Features | Site Navigation | Reg'n cross ref. | S/No's & Prod'n codes | MILITARY VARIANTS - History, Data & Photos | CIVIL VARIANTS - History, Data & Photos | About the author/Contact | Info Req'd | LATEST

Our wing was formed in 1980 by a group of dedicated men and women who wanted to ensure that future generations of American youth would know and appreciate the sacrifices and dedication of the men and women who flew, serviced and maintained the vast allied flying armada of World War Two. We do this by education and demonstration flights at various airshows across the country in our Douglas A-26B Invader assigned to us by the Commemorative Air Force Headquarters in Midland, Texas. "Spirit of Waco" is based at Waco Regional Airport in Waco, Texas.

Rick Sowder, Business Owner and Spirit co-pilot wrote

I am the maintenance officer and co-pilot on the CAF A-26 Spirit of Waco.

I really enjoy your sight, If you are in Waco come by and fly with us.

a26fixer Spitit of waco

Rick Sowder, Waco,TX


A-26B SN# 43-7140 was built in 1943 it was the 328th A26B built at the Douglas plant in Long Beach, Calif. It was delieverd to the USAAF on Dec 8th, 1944 and given the USAAF serial number of 41-39427. It served with various military units such as the 127th base unit at Florence S.C. 4Jan44 thru 13Nov45 and the 4160th base unit Air Material Command at Hobbs Field N.M. 13Nov45 thru Sept of 48, and the 4127th base unit Air Material Command at McLellan AFB in Calif from Sept of 48 to 13Mar50 when it was stricken from the USAF inventory and sold on the civilian market.

The aircraft spent 2 years in storage until Alex Oser, a scrap dealer bought it and 13 other A26's in Jan of 1952, it was sold 19Mar52 to Texas Railway Equipment Co. of Houston one of 9 sold to them, 7 of which ended up going to the French Air Force.

The aircraft went thru major modifications April of 1953 when the aircraft was completely disassembled and all systems inspected and repaired or overhauled, it was at this time the aircraft was converted to an executive transport with many luxuries and modifications being done to the aircraft by Grand Central Aircraft Co. of Glendale, Calif.

Barnwell Drilling Company of Shreveport, LA bought the A-26 30Dec61 and made futher modifiactions along the executive transport role. During this time period 1952-1967 the A-26 recieved best of care and maintenance from Barnwell and Texas Railway Equip Co., it is said that former Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson had flown on the aircraft as well as John Kennedy!! John Barnwell traded the A-26 on 7Feb67 for a larger Corvair 240 with Omni Investments. and the N numbers were also swapped in the trade and Invader N75Y became Invader N240P.

Flight Test Research Inc of Long Beach, Calif purchased the aircraft on 19Apr67 for $15,000.00 and the aircraft went home to where it was built 25 years earlier.

Ownership history and uses are a little sketchy from 1972 to 1977 but they must have been interesting since the aircraft was seized from drugrunners by T.L. Baker of the Potter Co. Sheriffs Dept in Amarillo on Jan 10th 1977 after a pilot had landed the aircraft on one engine and walked away from the airplane and authorities became suspicious. A testament to this is that at a paticular airshow a few years ago two gentlemen in dark sunglasses seemed rather intrigued by the airplane, finally one of the gentlemen approached a crew member and asked what color the aircraft had been before Ranger Wing aquired it. When told it was white with grey trim he exclaimed "By God it's the "Grey Ghost"!! We chased that sucker up and down the Gulf Coast!! Never could catch him, he'd drop down on the deck and throttle the engines up and leave us  there!!. The two gentlemen where DEA agents!!

The A-26 was purchased by the Commemorative Air Force on 21st of Dec, 1977 from the Amarillo Sheriffs Dept. After numerous weekend trips to Amarillo to prepare her for the flight to her new home the A-26 was ferried to Waco on Sept 11th, 1980. Quite a feat since the Ranger Squadron had only held its first meeting as a CAF unit on June 23rd, 1980 and only had 15 very dedicated members when assigned the A-26 by the Commemorative Air Force.

Intial restoration was completed in August of 1982 and soon after the airplane headed for Redbird Airport near Dallas for a new paint job, thats after members had scraped 4 old coats of paint from her, when she emerged from the paint shop she sported the colors Of the Grim Reapers of the 13th Bomb Squadron - Korea, she was jet black, with red wingtips and cowlings. Ranger Member Col. Gene Deveney painted the nose art of a Hauco Indian Princess on the nose and the members voted and finally named the airplane the "Spirit of Waco" narrowly defeating the name "Tee-Pee Time Gal".

Except for a 2 year period when the aircraft lost its number one engine when a master rod failed on takeoff at Las Vegas McCarran Airport in 1986 after a CAF "Gathering of Eagles" show. Col Wayne Shookman who was at the controls at the time managed to get her back on the ground. The Ranger Squadron found many eager volunteer CAF Colonels in the Las Vegas area to help get "Spirit of Waco" back in the air. It was from these volunteers that the Nevada Wing was born. The CAF honored these volunteers by assigning them the "Vegas Vixen" a A-26C model (glass nose) now known as "Lady Liberty" and based in Oklahoma is also done in the 13th Bomb Squadrons colors.  "Spirit of Waco" and "Lady Liberty" continue to spark the imagination and thrill airshow spectators with their low level strafing attacks and bomb runs.

As a Commemorative Air Force unit we are proud to maintain and safeguard the A-26B, a graceful and beautiful example of the aircraft that defended our nation and other allied countries in such a desperate and dramatic period in our nations history. We are truly proud to be "Ghost Squadron" members


This was the " Spirit " back in the 50', when she was N75Y and was the corporate plane of Brown and Root Construction.
This shot was taken at Houston Hobby airport and sent in to me by Rick Sowder, the A 26 Fixer for " The Spirit of Waco "






Above is N240P in 68


And this is her now, with Rick Sowder in the right hand seat and probably Joe Nemmer in the left hand seat.


Above is the logo I designed for the Spirit crew








Rick"The fixer" Sowder sent me in these great shots below of the cockpit and cabin