Duck on Target

We had a successful 1st Annual Last Big Splash last September with about 35 seaplanes in attendance.  Many showed up the evening before for a BBQ on the shores of Lake Agnes.  Later we watched a WWII film  called “Coastal Command” about Sunderlands on a big screen hung on the side of our Sunderland down by the lake.  It was a “big” hit!

The next day we had a number of seaplanes enter the competition and I faired pretty well with the Grumman Duck.  The Duck is almost impossible to see out of because of the big engine and lower wings and I totally lucked out in the spot-landing competition.  Having no idea where the two spot landing buoys were I just lined up, cut the power, and floated as long as I could.  If you land before the buoy line you are disqualified, which I was not.  As you can see by the above picture I was darned close!  I touched down just after the two buoys marking the target line, one of which is behind the tail spray!  A Husky on floats (with great visibility by the way) beat me.

Luck was not with me during the bomb drop contest and, mainly because of the visibility, I failed miserably.  The “bombs” (melons) did luckily land in the lake!  But in the short take-off competition I surprised myself and my competitor by getting off the water first and beating out a 450hp Dehavilland Beaver on floats!  In retrospect, had I created a category for seaplanes over 1000 hp, I could have won everything in my class!

Kermit

Posted by on Saturday, August 15, 2009
Filed in: Grumman Duck, Kermit Weeks
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Save the Ducks!

I recently got a picture update of my Grumman Duck project in Wichita, KS.  I’ve owned this aircraft since the mid-1980′s and it has been a avery slow back-burner project.

Grumman Duck Fuselage under going long-term restoration

Grumman Duck Fuselage under going long-term restoration

It has an interesting history and one time held the longest water-taxi record in the world!  It’s previous owner, Sam Poole, from Lake Alfred, FL was using it for hauling supplies up the Amazon when one day his left float hit a submerged log.  This careened him to the left where he found himself heading for, and then up, the riverbank.  He closed the throttle as he found himself climbing rather steeply up the side of the river!  As he began to slide backwards, he gunned the throttle to slow his tailslide back down to the river.  After inspecting the damage, he decided it was not safe to fly and began what became a 400 mile taxi down the Amazon!  Along the way, he picked up a couple of nuns that needed a ride but, as the river began to wander back and forth, he realized he would not have enough fuel.  He made some makeshift repairs and took-off with the nuns to complete the journey!  Later, after being repaired and working some more, The Duck ended back up at the headwaters on the Amazon in Leticia, Colombia.  Over time it became un-airworthy and began to languish.  Sam went back, took it apart, and brought it out onboard a cargo plane to Lake Alfred, FL.  I heard about it and stopped by one day on my way to look at property for Fantasy of Flight.  We struck a deal and I became a double-Duck owner!

Inverted Duck Hull being prepared for new Belly Skins

Inverted Duck Hull being prepared for new Belly Skins

I have actually been the largest owner of Ducks since the US Navy in WWII, owning four!  The first I purchased and flew in the early 1980′s, eventually donating it to the Weeks Air Museum.  We rebuilt it in Miami in the colors of the Candy Clipper and it is currently on display at Fantasy of Flight.  The second Duck is mentioned above and the third was acquired as part of the Tallmantz Collection in 1985 and starred in the movie Murphy’s War with Peter O’Toole.  It later became part of a trade to the US Air Force Museum for my P-35A Seversky.   My fourth Duck was acquired from the San Diego Air & Space Museum and traded for the Grumman F3F Flying Barrel currently on display at Fantasy of Flight.

I love the Duck and have had a lot of fun flying them over the years.  One of my more memorable moments was flying the Candy Clipper over one weekend to Cypress Gardens for a Hydroplane Race.  After talking to a couple of the skiers on the shoreline, we came up with a plan to to spruce up the show by letting them ski behind the Duck!  On our second pass, one actually kicked off his ski and began to barefoot in front of the somewhat stunned crowd!

Duck towing Skiers for Cypress Gardens Show!

Duck towing Skiers for Cypress Gardens Show!

If you want to see it fly, I will be splashing about during our upcoming first annual Last Big Splash this September 26th and 27th.  Hope to see you there!

Kermit

grumman-duck-in-flightWe hosted our second Splash-In event as part of the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In on Thursday, April 23rd.  It was a great success!  Last year we had 85 seaplanes and this year we had 101!  The weather was perfect and I got a chance to fly the Grumman Duck for everyone.  We are beginning to plan and promote our own Seaplane Fly-In during the last weekend of September of this year so keep your eyes peeled for more information.  With our great shoreline and seaplane ramp, we have the potential to create one of the premier Seaplane Fly-In’s in the world!

ford-tri-motor-with-hong-my-and-dan-cherryOf course, during the Fly-In I get to meet many new and old friends.  One of the more interesting new ones were Lt. Hong My and Dan Cherry.  The first time they met was in the skies over Hanoi, Vietnam where Dan Cherry flying an F-4 Phantom shot down Hong My in his Mig 21.  They got reacquainted 37 years later and have since become friends, visiting each other homes and doing special events.  They happened to be over at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In and I was asked to fly them over and give them a tour of Fantasy of Flight.  I picked them up in my Ford Tri-Motor and gave them both the opportunity to try their hand at flying it.  It was very interesting to say the least because you hardly use the rudder in a jet except to steer on the ground and the Ford is very much a rudder airplane.  I think it was a bit of a shock to both of them to watch the slip ball swing from side to side as they tried to wrestle the Ford around the sky.  After landing, I gave them a grand tour of our facility!

b-25-with-kermit-and-steve-brownAnother person that came by for a visit was an old acquaintance but new Head of the CAF (now Commemorative Air Force).  I gave him a tour of Fantasy of Flight and explained my Vision as to where we were headed.  He seemed deeply influenced by some of the things I was proposing as well as some of the things we were currently doing.  I let him sit in the cockpit of the Polikarpov Po-2 while he listened to the Audio Experience about the Night Witches.  When we climbed out of the cockpit he said, “I HAVE  to play this to my Board of Directors . . . this is exactly what they need to hear!”  The next day he brought by several of his staff to show them the facility and listen to some of the Audio Experiences.  Not a bad testimonial!

Kermit

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