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4th of July 1973

It was on this day in aviation history that a Grumman HU-16 Albatross (AF Serial No. 51-5282) set a world record for twin-engined amphibious aircraft. On the last one of operational flights of a US Air force HU-16, the aircraft reached an altitude of 32.883 feet.

The Grumman HU-16 Albatros was used by the US Air Force, US Navy and US Coastguard as a SAR aircraft, Based on the Grumman Mallard the aircraft was capable to make open sea/ocean landings to carry out rescues. The aircraft's hull shape (deep-V) and long keel made this possible. The aircraft could land and take off in 4 foot (1.2 m) seas, where a landing could be performed in higher seas. For take-off in seas with waves up to 10 feet a JATO (Rocket assisted take-off was required).

The aircraft was also exported to approximately twenty countries where it saw extensive use in different operational roles. This led to the production of different models based on the customer and the role the aircraft would undertake, and also modifications of one model into another model. As an example, some aircraft were modified with a larger wing. After military use of the aircraft was less and less, more aircraft entered civilian use from passenger-carrying to Satelite Technology test aircraft.


Some specifications on the HU-16B (the most produced version)

  • Crew: 4-6

  • Capacity: 10 passengers

  • Length: 62 ft 10 in (19.15 m)

  • Wingspan: 96 ft 8 in (29.46 m)

  • Height: 25 ft 10 in (7.87 m)

  • Wing area: 1,035 sq ft (96.2 m2)

  • Empty weight: 22,883 lb (10,380 kg)

  • Gross weight: 30,353 lb (13,768 kg)

  • Max takeoff weight: 37,500 lb (17,010 kg)

  • Fuel capacity: 675 US gal (562.1 imp gal; 2,555.2 l) internal fuel + 400 US gal (333.1 imp gal; 1,514.2 l) in wingtip floats + two 300 US gal (249.8 imp gal; 1,135.6 l) drop tanks

  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-1820-76A Cyclone 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 1,425 hp (1,063 kW) each for take-off 1,275 hp (951 kW) normal rating from sea level to 3,000 ft (914 m)

  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hamilton Standard constant-speed fully-feathering reversible-pitch propellers

  • Maximum speed: 236 mph (380 km/h, 205 kn)

  • Cruise speed: 124 mph (200 km/h, 108 kn)

  • Stall speed: 74 mph (119 km/h, 64 kn)

  • Range: 2,850 mi (4,590 km, 2,480 nmi)

  • Service ceiling: 21,500 ft (6,600 m)

  • Rate of climb: 1,450 ft/min (7.4 m/s)

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