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.
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!
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!
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!