THE ALBATROSS CHRONICLES
“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 the trusty Miss Millicent.
(For the long and sordid tale of Millicent, please see The Millicent Chronicles.
She is a Grumman HU-16 Albatross, which is an amphibious plane used primarily for search and rescue. I can still make out “CUE” on her starboard side. 466 of these were built from 1949 to 1961.
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 partner in Millicent and other 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.
I’m researching her pedigree. We seem to have it down to two serial numbers. Both were built in 1955 for the US Navy, then passed on to Armada de Mexico in 1981, and finally returned to California where they were sold for scrap in May of 2009 – and here is a photo of her at that time:
You might enjoy seeing what a complete Albatross looks like, so…
For good measure, this one is using booster rockets (JATO) for takeoff.
Back to this particular bird….
That is how she appeared for sale last week.
And she is now settled into my back yard.
And what does this have to do with school buses?
You had to ask, didn’tcha.
It gets worse.
Not sure about the teeth, but….
I’m still considering whether to graft her to a conventional bus (dog nose), or a forward control (flat front with front engine, like Millicent). In either, we would perhaps move the engine rearward. In a forward control, we would definitely move the front axle forward. Stay tuned to this station.
How well would they fit together? Like Trump’s small hand in Simpson’s small glove.
At the bottom, Miss Albatross measures 94” across. Millicent measures around 95”. Once the bulkhead (wall) is gone, I bet she’ll flex right into place.
Six feet up, Albatross is down to 90”. More flexing, but we can also pull the bus walls in – by cutting out a long V in the middle of the roof.
The roof arch may be a challenge, but I have no doubt we can do a decent job of it. Or just hide it with a deck or other accessory.
She will need an automotive windshield.
There will be a roof-raise involved. There will be a roof-raise involved.
And of course, all the controls of the bus will be installed in the cockpit.
This thing will comply with the California Vehicle Code, down to the last mud-flap.
I’m not kidding about the back porch in that cobbled-together illustration. There will be a Social Gathering Venue back there.
The job will take several years.
And I will try to chronicle it here.