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15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:55 am
by Millicent2
"Look what followed me home", I've been telling friends the last few days.
Actually, with neither wings nor legs, MIss Albatross hitched a ride on my trusty all-purpose trailer behind my trusty all-purpose Large Road-Vehicle.


She appeared for sale in the most bucolic of local sales channels, among gently-used ladies fashions, children's items, and well-worn furniture. Perhaps I will name her Miss Incongruous.
And what on Earth possessed me to scroll thru such flea market (jumble sale) junk in the first place -- something I rarely do? And a mere hour after the ad appeared! Miss Serendipity? Miss Extra-Sensory Perception?

A dozen years ago, I came within a sneeze of scoring the complete fuselage of a British Aerospace Jetstream 31, located 400 US miles away.
Now, I simply could not pass up Miss Albatross, and only 50 US miles from home. My frequent partner in various shenanigans, Peter, was easily enlisted.

The seller, whose family is in the scrap metal line, related that they had cut up three Albatrosses a handful years ago, and all but these 15 feet had become beer cans and mobile home siding. He also said that at least two of them had been used in Mexico, and been fetched back north at some point before scrapping, on a purpose-built trailer.

My research found the planes for sale at Lampson Field in Lakeport, Northern California, in 2008. (Only 20 miles from my home!) They were then sold at auction on 30 May 2009 to the scrap people.

Further research established that we probably own...


G-420 /137929


G-404 / 137931.

It's not that it really matters which one. But people will ask, and it would be fun to know exactly. I have even found photos of both planes in service. So I could make a nice print to display.

If an owner of a complete Albatross should need any of the very few remaining parts which I do not need, I would be happy to sell those. I'm not an aviation man, but I appreciate the historical value of keeping these beautiful beasts flying. And a man's hobby is always important in my book.

And I need the hatch cover on top of the bow compartment. I could fabricate it, but the compound curvature would take me a long time to master.

Ah.... Almost forgot my one specific question: Is there a factory number anywhere in these 15 feet? The seller said there was, but I'm not finding it. The tail number was perhaps on the instrument panel, but the panel is gone.

Enough of my prattling for now. Thanks for allowing me on the forum!

EDIT to add: Gosh, where are my manners! My name is Elliot.

Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:12 pm
by Rajay
Elliot, saving every little bit helps! Welcome to the forum and good work!

I can't help you in determining if it is either G-404 or G-420; according to my notes, I have nothing on the fate of either of those Albatrosses.

I do however have it noted that while G-404 (USN Bu. 137931) was built in 1955 as a short-wing (design no. G-64) model UF-1 (HU-16C) it was later converted as a long-wing design no. G-211 (model UF-2 / HU-16D) for the Navy under project no. 10D but G-420 (USN Bu. 141273) was never similarly converted and apparently always remained a short-wing UF-1 / HU-16C version. While there were attendant changes to the empennage, I do not know if there was any clue to be found in the nose or cockpit areas.

(Is it just because it is 'French' that this forum does not recognize 'empennage' as a correctly spelled word?)

Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:22 am
by Millicent2
Oh darn.... Please accept my apology, Rajay. That is supposed to be G-402 (not 420). Sometimes I type "adn" and teh" also. LOL
(I did have the Bu. correct as 137929.)

About the retrofit you mention on G-404.... I noticed a tag on the door (not an aviation nor maritime term, I expect. Hatch?) to the bow compartment in my unit. It is a retrofit of some sort. It doesn't strike me as related to the wings, but I can get the info off that tag tomorrow. I'm thinking that any clue may help.

By the way.... My buddy and co-owner Peter is also researching, so if anyone receives two similar inquiries... well, those can safely be consolidated.

(Regarding French.... I speak both English and Norwegian, and I have my computer set up to type the three extra letters in the Norwegian alphabet, and apparently also spell-check Norwegian words. Let me tell you... it confuses the computer mightily! LOL)

Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:21 pm
by Rajay
Albatross serial no. G-402 built as short-wing design no. G-64 for US Navy as a model UF-1 (aka HU-16C after 1962) Bu. no 137929 delivered April 1, 1955. It apparently was never converted as long-wing (design no. G-211 / models UF-2 or HU-16D) and according to the only other notes that I have on it after that, it was eventually transferred from the USN to Mexico. Nothing more after that.

Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:05 pm
by Millicent2
It seems likely that both G-402 and G-404 went to Mexico, and that they came back together. See this for-sale listing from 2008:

Next, they were sold at auction in 2009: ... on_as15839

Of the two nuzzled together, mine is the one with less paint.
The one with more paint had "Armada de Mexico" lettered on it.

Reason I expect these are 402 and 404... is this website, all the way at the bottom:

"MP" seems to be Mexican tail number letters.

I have found photos of MP-503 and MP-507, both on public display. By looking at details like windshield wipers, it seems neither is mine.

There have possibly been more than three of them at Lampson Field. I saw a mention of one as late as 2013.

Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 4:48 am
by seawings
Hi Elliott,

Welcome aboard!

Oh, you lucky, lucky man! There is a thing called a 'Cockpit Fest' over here in the UK and it's where enthusiasts display their fully restored cockpit sections just like yours in 'as-it-was' conditions and they are open to the camera-toting modelers that love to see what the real thing looked like.

Yours my friend is making me so jealous! What I'd give to have that restored in my back garden!

Elliot, I have a range of Albatross flight and maintenance manuals in pdf format that show all the details that should be in there; if you want me to email them to you then please contact me off-board by email and I'll set up a DropBox link for you.

Good luck,

Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 5:20 am
by Millicent2
Seawings, that's a wonderfully generous offer!
And I love the concept of a Cockpit Fest.

But I'm afraid there isn't much to restore -- see photo.
As you can see, the yokes/columns/sticks are still there. (Please bear with me if this ground-bound landlubber gets the terminology wrong.) And the throttle levers and a couple other levers and handles in that overhead console.

And that's about it.
No seats. No rudder-pedals. No instruments -- not even the flat plates with holes for instruments.

We are leaving the starboard steering-column/yoke/stick in place as a historical/aviation reference. We must remove the overhead console for headroom (I have enough scars on my scalp already -- ha, ha!), but I bet we will use those controls for something because of their distinct aviation style.


Now.... I owe you all an explanation -- of what we are doing with this salvaged flight-deck/nose.

And I hope you will agree that... there seem to be quite a few Albatrosses in scrap yards, so no desperate need to preserve this almost-empty shell.
And there is the fact that it sold in May 2009 for... either USD 1,000, or USD 2,000, depending on whether it is G-402 or G-404. And that was the COMPLETE AIRCRAFT sans engines. And that auction was surely well know in aviation circles. Yet it sold for pennies on the dollar of scrap-metal-for-melting-down value.

One more detour: In my research, I noted one Albatross listed as "converted to furniture".

Well.... At least this one will be seen by lots of people all over the western US.


The proportions of this cobbled-together illustration are quite badly off. It is only to illustrate the concept. The bus roof will be raised a couple feet for a good match-up.

We do have experience with this sort of thing.


Besides raising the roof, we built a ramp in the back -- out of an air freight skid, as it happens.


And I'm an auto mechanic and metal fabricator of reasonable skill.


I build other mechanical toys as well.




Those two are human-powered -- and amphibious.

So this Albatross project is realistic.

Where the Albatross is cut... at the bottom, it is one inch narrower than the Blue Bird school bus body. At cockpit window level, it is four inches narrower. We will slit the roof of the bus and pull the walls in those four inches.

The most difficult will be to achieve a tasteful transition from the cockpit roof to the bus roof, as the curvature is very different. But we have 35 feet of bus roof to do it in.

Now we are looking for the right bus.

Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:10 pm
by MrWidgeon
You HAVE to keep us up to speed on this project, I LOVE IT !


Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:48 pm
by Millicent2
Oooo.... I feel soooo relieved... you do not condemn me for ruining a "good" Albatross.
I certainly expect some will disapprove, and that's as it should be. It's the die-hards who do the most valuable preservation work, and I salute them.

Since I'm told there is no shortage of Albatross hulks, I'm going the RV route.

(I've been thinking about this for a while. A dozen years ago, I came close to obtaining the fuselage of a British Aerospace Jetstream 31, perhaps even free for hauling it away. Soooo close.)

Yes, I will be happy to chronicle the progress. I am already set to do so on a bus-related forum, so I can easily "carbon copy" it here. Of course, this will take at least a couple years.

Re: 15 feet of Albatross

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:50 pm
by dogsbody
That Albatross was ruined long before you got it. Yes, please, keep us up to date on your progress with this project.