Curtis MF 'Seagull'

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Re: Curtis MF 'Seagull'

Postby Meisterlin » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:32 pm


Lovely aircraft. One of them has flown in Norway by the famous Carl Batts. I have done some research on that seaplane and wrote an article about it:

So this photograph is nice to see.

Thanks for posting it.

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Re: Curtis MF 'Seagull'

Postby seawings » Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:54 pm

I contacted the people at Bonhams in the hope that they might let me use some of their images in a walk-round on SEAWINGS.

Boy, did I get a surprise!

Firstly, the images on their site are such that one can zoom in on any and all points and it does not go out of focus until you are so close one can see the screw heads.! Wow, I thought.

So, I have spent four nights going through every one and saving every possible angle. What Bonhams have inadvertantly done is gift us the finest walk-round of a Curtiss MF that it has ever been my pleasure to see. The shots that I have are just as good as if I had been there on that snowy day and done it myself, to my own standards. Double wow!

The guys at Bonhams then came back to me and gave me exclusive permission to re-post every image on SEAWINGS (as long as I put up an advert for the sale on the front page, as you can see) So, at 6.0AM this past Sunday I was up and working at drafting that ad and up-loading it. They were happy and I have all the images we want; deal I thought.

Mind you, if I had won that 75 million on the Euro Lottery, I would have flown over and bought it myself! To my eye, this is one of the most iconic flying boats of that era, that and the 'F' Boat and all the others that look so, well, cute. Look at that! I would have built my new home with a room just for that so that I could display her and go and sit in her whenever I wanted to ........................!

Bonhams reckon she will go for $300,000 to $500,000 - triple wow. Just hope that she does go to a good home where we can all see and appreciate this gorgeous craft.

As for me, in real life, I'll be up at probably 6.0AM this Sunday formatting and making up the WR gallery for SEAWINGS - all 260 images that I have from this event.

Oh well, I could be decorating.............

My grateful thanks goes to the Bonham guys who could have been all 'stuffy' about sharing what they have; my guess is that one wouldn't have got the same response over here possibly but they did me proud. Thanks goes to Richard and Rupert...!!

Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
Owner of:

The Flying Boat Forum
SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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Re: Curtis MF 'Seagull'

Postby antipodeanandy » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:26 pm

Brilliant stuff, Bryan. A fitting tribute to a fine little aeroplane.
Andy Wright
Aircrew Book Review
I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library - Jorge Luis Borges
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Re: Curtis MF 'Seagull'

Postby flyernzl » Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:48 am

seawings wrote:
Bonhams reckon she will go for $300,000 to $500,000 - triple wow.

Sold at USD506,000 apparently
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Re: Curtis MF 'Seagull'

Postby flyernzl » Sat May 04, 2013 5:38 am

A few weeks ago I travelled to the South Island to see the Classic Fighters air show at Omaka.
After this event, I called in to the Omaka Heritage Aviation Centre museum.
This museum, largely funded by film director Peter Jackson, now includes this Curtiss MF boat among the exhibits.
So now we know who the 'mystery bidder' was!

Although the display is well situated, it is still quite dark in this part of the museum.
For the technically-minded, the following photos were taken with the camera set at an ASA of 200 and at f8.
Exposure time varies fron 5 to 8 seconds.






From the display board:
"The beautiful example you see before you (c/n NC 903 ans US Navy A-5543) is one of only four examples known to exist. Manufactured by the Naval Aircraft Factory at its facility in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, it was the 61st built from a batch of 80. Little is known of this boat's early history but it was almost certainly operated at a Naval Aviation training station and thereafter released for sale as surplus some time in the early 1920s. It appears to have been operated for joy rides by William H Long in the Cleveland, Ohio area and was donated by him following refurbishment to the Cleveland's Frederick C Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in June 1945."

Given the above history, presumably it also carried a US civil registration. Anyone know what this would have been?

The reported sale price was USD506K and I would guess at a further 100K or so to pack, ship, restore and set up the aircraft at Omaka.
We are indeed fortunate that we have individuals who are willing to devote such a large amount of their resources to present these artifacts so that we are all able to view and enjoy.

Thank you and well done to all involved.
Last edited by flyernzl on Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Curtis MF 'Seagull'

Postby flyernzl » Sat May 04, 2013 5:47 am

I can answer my own question.

From the auctioneers website:

"This Curtiss MF

Built by the Naval Aircraft Factory at its facility in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, A-5543 was the sixty-first Curtiss MF flying boat produced in a batch of eighty. There are no log books and its service history is undocumented, but an effort is underway to ascertain as much as possible from naval archives and records in FAA dead storage. Almost certainly A-5543 was posted to a naval aviation training station, possibly at Pensacola or Atlantic City. It is thought to have been released for sale as government surplus in 1923 or '24.

Records are sketchy, but it appears that A-5543 had a single owner, William H. Long, who was the owner and longtime operator of the Lorain, Ohio airport. Long is said to have based the MF at Sandusky Bay, from which he made frequent trips to Cedar Point Amusement Park, presumably flying joyriders and sightseers. With the advent of federal control of civil aviation in late 1926, A-5543 was licensed as a 2-seater and received the Dept. of Commerce registration C903, later as NC903, in compliance with commercial flight regulations at that time. The engine appears to be the 100-hp Curtiss OXX6, outwardly identical to the ubiquitous OX5.

Long's pilot was an Early Bird by the name of Albert J. Engel, who began flying in 1911. Engel is said to have been the son of a designer employed by the White Co. of Cleveland, builder of luxury automobiles. Albert apparently had the wherewithal to purchase his own Curtiss-built pusher biplane, which cost about $5,000.

Engel acquired another Curtiss-built pusher which he operated on pontoons from Rocky River at the Lakewood Yacht Club, now the Cleveland Yachting Club. He called it the "Bumble Bee" and barnstormed with it from the Edgewater and Willow Beach Parks as well as Chautauqua Lake until about 1914.
Some thirty-odd years later Engel and his friend Bill Long refurbished the MF with new wing fabric and varnished the hull. They subsequently donated their vintage aircraft to Cleveland's Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum on June 21, 1945. On display for many years at the Western Historical Reserve Society, the MF was retired from public exhibition in recent times. "
Last edited by flyernzl on Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Curtis MF 'Seagull'

Postby Cameraman » Sun May 05, 2013 8:01 am

Morning Peter,

you did very well to get the photo's that you did, considering the lighting levels, the direct light hitting the lens and the colour cast due to the temperature of the light.


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Re: Curtis MF 'Seagull'

Postby Kenny » Sun May 05, 2013 1:05 pm

Beautiful work...
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