Having watched in awe as the Bleirot took off and hovered above the ground at Shuttleworth in 2009, 100 years since it first flew in 1909, my interest in old aircraft took off, if you’ll excuse the pun!
Following this, my researched honed in on early development of flying boats, mainly due to my links with Woolston and Supermarine and so I was excited to visit Duxford last autumn to climb aboard the Catalina and then watch the old bird glide above us like a giant albatross. It was while watching this spectacle that I started my quest to find the answer to this question:
What is the oldest, airworthy, flying boat in the world?
Now, on their interesting Catalina website, it tells you that the Catalina XPY-1 first flew in January 1929 in Maryland. Quite impressive!
But is it the oldest?
I was enamoured to see an old Southampton, well, what remains of it, originally built by Supermarine in 1925 but now in Hendon museum; with its carefully built wooden hull, crafted and varnished to perfection, but however impressive it is to look down into this aircraft, of course it cannot fly.
In the end I asked the same question on the Flying Boat Forum, a place where you will meet enthusiasts; experts in the unusual history of this unique craft. You see, there’s nothing quite like a Flying Boat. A sea plane or float plane looks good, but there’s something very special about a flying boat. My next blog will be more about the differences and why these aircraft were so special, especially when they were first conceived.
I had some speedy responses which narrowed it down to a Sikorsky Type S39, an interesting looking craft, camouflage painted in brown and white no N50V. You can click on the following photo below by Nick Dean to see many more on the site where it came from.
This Sikorsky can be found in Florida, owned by Kermit Weeks and I’m told is part of The Fantasy of Flight museum collection.
Imagine my delight when another member sent a response of a link to a video where an Sikorsky S38 is on an amazing flight. It tells us in the introduction that the aircraft first flew in 1928, so I think I have my answer. Thanks guys! I’ll have to think of some more questions.
This is truly a pleasure to watch. Enjoy!
You can find more information on Seawings, The Flying Boat website.