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Vought-Sikorsky VS-44A



Manufactured 1940-1942   Mfg. No. 4403

                                               Registered NC41881

1940-1943     American Export Airlines

1943-1946     U.S. Navy  - designated JR2S-1

1946-1947     Tampico Airlines

1947-1949     Skyways International Airways

1949-1950     Seaboard Commercial Finance Corp.

1950-1950     J.L Boland

1950-1951     Harry Bomstein

1951-1951     Huestis Wells

1951-1952     Aviation Exchange Corp.

1952-1955     arrives at Baltimore Harbor Field for repairs

1956               aircraft being repaired in Lima , Peru

1957-1968     Avalon Air Transport

1968-1976     Antilles Air Boats

1976-1983    U.S. Navy - Pensacola Naval Air Museum

1983-             New England Air Museum - Hartford, CT

                              long term loan from U.S. Navy

Hugh Wells

  CAA Certification Granted

  On July 14, 1943, the CAA granted the VS-44A an approved Type Certificate #752 (transport category) with the following limits:

  Maximum take-off gross weight                      59,534 lbs.

  Airspeed limit                                                          185 mph

  Maximum landing weight                                 51,809 lbs.

  Airspeed limit                                                          211 mph

  Fuel capacity                                                        3,820 gals.

  Maximum baggage weight                                 9,920 lbs.

  Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S1C3-G

  Engine limits: Max except take-off: 1,050 hp/engine

  Take off limits: 1,200 hp/engine (2 minutes)

It was fitting that Excambian was sold to Antilles Air Boats. Charles Blair had been the first pilot to fly the VS-44A as a test pilot on the Excalibur. At that time he was the Chief Pilot for American Export Airlines and performed duty with AEA's blessing, as Sikorsky's chief test pilot on the VS-44A.  He later contracted with both the Aviation Exchange Corporation and Skyways to check out their "44" pilots. He had established many world records with the      VS-44A's. It was fitting, therefore, that as owner of Antilles Air Boats, "Charlie" would provide the last operational home for the last of the "Flying Aces".

Harry  F. Pember

Sikorsky VS-44 Flying Boat

FAA Records - N41881
FAA Form 337 - further documentation / misc.
Ownership / Transfers / Registrations / misc.

Of all the AAB aircraft, Excambian had the most incredible history!

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Hugh Wells
Tampico Air Lines 
Sister ship Excalibur NC41880
U.S. Navy - JR2S-1

Records Established by VH-44A's  flown by AEA

Excalibur / Excambian / Exeter

While in service with American Export Airlines the "Flying Aces" established notable records. 

The "Flying Aces"  were the longest-range commercial aircraft in service of any airline, and were the only aircraft that flew commercial schedules non-stop with a capacity payload across the North and South Atlantic on flights in excess of 3,100 miles.

 1.   Transatlantic Record, USA-Europe: 3,329 miles in 14             hours 17 minutes (non-stop) 

 2.   First to fly non-stop Foynes-New York, June 22, 1942:             Capt. Charles Blair pilot, Capt. Bob Hixson, co-pilot.

 3.   First non-stop flight New York-Lisbon: 3,383 miles in 20 

       hours 14 minutes, Capt. Charles Blair.

 4.   First to fly non-stop Baltimore-Europe: 3,380 miles in             16 hours 2 minutes.  

 5.  Fastest westbound Atlantic Flight time, Europe-USA              (with refueling stop at Botwood, Newfoundland) in 17            hours 45 minutes.

 6.  Fastest non-stop flight between Europe-New York in 18         hours 5 minutes.

  7.  First to fly non-stop Bermuda-North Africa: 3,362 miles

  8.  First to fly non-stop Bathurst (Africa) -Port of Spain                 (Trinidad): 3,384 miles

  9.  First to fly non-stop Bathurst-San Juan, P.R.: 3,384                  miles

10.  Fastest westbound crossing Foynes to LaGuardia (with          refueling stop at Botwood): 17 hours 57 minutes. Capt.          Edward A. Stuart, pilot

11.  Fastest non-stop flight New York to Foynes: 14 hours 17         minutes: Capt. Charles Blair, pilot

Harry E. Pember, Sikorsky VS-44 Flying Boat  / Flying Machine Press

Excellent read!

Dick Probert

"Mother Goose"

Christiansted, St. Croix
photo credit Fritz Henle
photo credit John Egan

Great book !

Complete history!

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American Export Airlines
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AEA Crew List
photo credit Fritz Henle
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AAB Seaplane Ramp -Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Excambian at AAB's San Juan, P.R. station and its neighbor the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station (3 - HU16E & 2 H-52)

Ted Pfeiffer's account as interviewed and published by Henry Pember plus additional consideration.

Mrs. Maureen O'Hara Blair at the dedication of "Excambian"
at the New England Air Museum
Converted PowerPoint Presentation to video without narrations
Will add narrations in time.

On-Line Flight Simulator includes      AAB's N41881

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Project Mohole
April 1959, Excambian makes it into a movie
another job for Excambian
see more below
see more below
Remebering the Excambian by Capt. Mike Craig
The VS-44 Ken Dineen's Memories
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Maureen O'Hara Blair speaks at the event that launched the restoration of Sikorsky VS-44 Excambian N41881 in Connecticut  back in 1987.

Maureen O'Hara says...

transport along the way

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Seaplane & Flying Boats - Presentation to Pan Am Association -Aloha Chpt.
Christiansted, St. Croix
Photo by Charlie Freehling

Dan Styer sent in photos from January 1970. VS-44 "Excambian" sits on its beaching gear after its accident of 1969. Later years show it on its concrete cradle. Additional photos show its many years in service. Photo from Veterans Drive also shows the PBY on the ramp.

I always enjoy the additional features of earlier photos, vehicles, etc.

see more about this print below
"Excambian" leaving N.Y. LaGuardia Airport's Marine Air Terminal
Andy Whyte print part of my collection
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Excambian on the ramp in St. Thomas after its final flight. This photo is significant because it sits on its beaching gear and has all four engines. Most photos after the accident show it sitting on its concreate cradle and only three engines.

Photo by Charles Freehling
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Popular Science / Nov 1941

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contributed by Anthony Gagliani
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photo by Pat Patterson


The nose says Excalibur" and the tail says, "Excambian (N41881). While in Baltimore, in 1953 for repairs, the owner decided he preferred the name Excalibur. The original Excalibur crashed in 1942. When Dick Probert and Walt von Kleinsmid purchased the aircraft in Peru, the name Excambian returned. When it returned to Long Beach to join his fleet of Gooses it gained the nickname of

"Mother Goose"

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In 1959, Excambian became an actress. Dick Probert recalls her debut in a Hollywood movie; "In April of 1959 a motion picture entitled The Galant Hour was made. The motion picture company, MGM, advised that the entire aircraft had to be painted a dark navy blue for the picture. This movie was to be the World War II story of Admiral William "Bull" Halsey and was to be shot at San Diego. After the picture was completed, the studio, who had contracted to remove the paint was unable to accomplish that task. This made it necessary to repaint the entire aircraft. The repainting of the airplane caused the fabric on the wings to shrink to the point where it tore loose at the corners where it was attached. Our mechanics repaired the fabric enough to see us through the coming summer and after summer was over we removed all the wing fabric and covered the entire wings with metal."

Dick Probert  (excerpt from Harry E. Pember's Sirkorsky VS-44 Flying Boat


March / April 1961, "Excambian" provided transport for the scientist, staff and equipment to the Project Mohole, off of Guadalupe Island,150 miles east of Baja California. 

Life Magazine
April 14, 1961
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Andy Whyte's Print

There is more than one story regarding Andy Whyte's print #209 of 900.

 Read about the artist, the print, the signatures and a little more.  

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Dick Probert

1907 -2008

"Dick was a widely known and respected aviation "Old Timer" . A long time friend of Charlie Blair, who sold him "Mother Goose" and few additional aircraft that flew at AAB. Dick also appeared in 9 episodes of Sea Hunt... sea see one episode above.


American - Export -Lines

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Capt. Charles Blair arrives in New York in 1940 to start the newest Trans-Atlantic Airline. See more about the biggest shipping company in the US and its quest to join the international skies.
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