I love seaplanes, I guess because I love flying and I really enjoy boats. So when we put the two together and go out on a flying boat then I’ll be one happy camper. On a recent visit to Sydney, Australia I noticed there were seaplane rides available. One can take a “Romantic Dinner” flight up to the Hawkesbury River and enjoy a splendid dinner by the water, and then it’s back into the plane for the thrill of the roar of the engine, spray and “faster than a speeding speedboat” take-off to quietly digest the food and wine as you are chauffeured back to the city taking in views that are simply breathtaking. Unfortunately for me my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) turned into an MO (Missed Out) as we weren’t able to fit the dinner into our schedule. But next time …
But what if, instead of just occasionally being able to go for a joy ride on a seaplane, you wanted to own one. It could be because you want the ultimate in “one upsmanship” as in “other people own a boat as a status symbol, but I own a flying boat” sort of thinking. Or it could be because you think “if I’m going to spend a large chunk of change on a speedboat, how much would it cost me to get something faster and rather more thrilling than a speedboat?” The answer is that there are lots of tempting options but we’ll just look at one, vintage, antique option that has something of a Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman character. The movie “Casablanca” was a product of the 1940’s, and so is the seaplane we are going to look at, a Grumman G-44 Widgeon.
The American aircraft manufacturer Grumman is perhaps best known for it’s warbirds of World War II the Wildcat and the Hellcat. These aircraft starred in many movies about the war, especially the war in the Pacific. They were by all accounts fabulous aircraft and loved by those who flew them, though they flew them in difficult and dangerous days.
Grumman did not only make amazing fighter/bomber aircraft during the war riven forties however, they also made seaplanes and one of the nicest was the G-44 Widgeon. The G-44 Widgeon is a twin engine, five seater seaplane that was designed to serve both military and civilian uses. The Widgeons saw action in the Second World War both in the Pacific and in the war in Europe, they were originally deployed in anti-submarine warfare and were quite capable of finding and doing significant harm to a U-Boat.
Grumman G-44 Widgeons turn up for sale fairly regularly. You can find some listed here, the least expensive of which is going for an asking price of US$199,500.00. What do you get for that? Something you can fly and have fun in, go fishing in, go exploring, have adventures in, do a bit of a Walter Mitty in. What you get is the chance to fly along the coast at sunset singing “It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die…” and to hear a voice from the passenger compartment say “Play it again Sam”.
(Feature image courtesy of www.horizontalrain.com)
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.