Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boats that spread their wings

Just as soon as the Wright Brothers figured out how to get an airplane off the ground, inventors were trying to get them to work on water. The first successful float plane flight was in the flimsy looking Le Canard in 1910. By 1923 short hop commercial flying boat service became available in Britain.

The pinnacle of commercial flying boat service was the iconic Pan Am Pacific Clipper (Boeing 314) starting in 1939. Service ended in 1941 with the US entry into WWII. The introduction of the Lockheed Constellation and the Douglas DC-4 rendered large commercial transoceanic and flying boat service obsolete. None of the Boeing 314 aircraft exist today. The last one was scrapped in 1950.

Here is the vocabulary. Seaplanes can take off and land on water and runways. The subclass of this genre is amphibian aircraft. They divide into floatplanes, and flying boats, with the later being defined as having a hull. What you're looking at is a sleek Seawind 3000 flying boat, and you have to build it yourself, or at least more than half of it. You can also buy one someone else built and had certified.