I have always had a problem with (i.e. personal bias against) the fact that every single civilian owned Grumman Albatross in the US (and probably elsewhere too) is registered using some form of a supposedly former
military serial number for its official identification. I have issue with that because first of all, 14 CFR 45.13(a)
specifies that all civilian registered aircraft (which includes ex-military "warbirds") are supposed to be
identified using the OEM (i.e. "builder's") serial number.
On top of that and for further clarification, FAA Advisory Circulars AC 21-12c
and AC 21-13
, which pertain to the application for and issuance of all certificates of airworthiness and the civilian certification of surplus military aircraft respectively, both also specify that if they exist
, civilian OEM model and serial numbers should be used for purposes of all official identification such as airworthiness certification and registration. Those same Advisory Circulars go on to say that former military model and serial numbers may be
included off to the right in parentheses if desired, but they are not required.
In the case of the Grumman Albatross, the model (i.e. design number) G-64
was never certified or approved by the civil aviation authority (i.e. CAA and later the FAA) as were for relevant examples the models G-21A
series) and G-44
(USN and USCG J4F
series.) Nonetheless, Grumman did issue its own OEM serial numbers for each and every Albatross ever built and they ranged from G-1 to G-464 (not including the two experimental and pre-production prototypes.) Therefore, according to the aforementioned references, every civilian-owned and registered Grumman Albatross should be
officially identified and registered using those Grumman OEM serial numbers as applicable and NOT any former military serial numbers.
After all, the Grumman OEM serial numbers never changed whereas the military serial numbers changed every time a particular aircraft was transferred from one branch of the service to another. Because of that, each of them has only one Grumman OEM serial number (G-1 through G-464) but in many cases, the same aircraft had several different military serials; instead of guessing which one might be most appropriate, the regs and official FAA supplementary references are explicitly clear on the matter - even if history and actual practice in the "real world" are not.
In any case, this situation has motivated me to expand my personal database for the histories and identifications of every Grumman Albatross and to try to reconcile it with the serial numbers listed under the various FAA type certificates which cover them now (most of which of essentially just "provisional" type certificates issued by the FAA to cover only specific former military aircraft for which civilian owners have submitted their own maintenance and other support documentation to be accepted by the FAA - as opposed to the full type certification and approval that was granted under Part 25
to those 13 specific Albatrosses that were rebuilt and re-certified as models G-111
under TC A22SO
Type Certificate A33SO
on the other hand is one of the provisional or limited TC's that covers specific former military Albatrosses that otherwise do not have any independent civilian certification - but it seems rife with gross errors. Under Section I for the model HU-16A, which was nominally
short-wing variant, most of the serial numbers listed there are actually US Navy
Bureau of Aeronautics serial or "Bu." numbers! Similarly, 75% of the serial numbers listed under Section III for the HU-16D US Navy
long-wing variant are actually US Coast Guard
serial numbers - and 33% of the serial numbers under Section IV for the HU-16E USCG
long-wing variant are actually US Navy
Bu. numbers once again!
Worse still, under Section II for the USAF long-wing HU-16B variants, there are several serial numbers which do not obviously correspond to any of the known previous military (or Grumman) serial number formats. For example, in addition to several USN and USCG serials, Section II includes serial numbers 0126
, all of which could be corrupted former military serials (that's assuming that 0126
is actually supposed to be former USCG serial number 1026
) but worst of all is serial number "86B
" for which I do not have a clue as to what it actually should be.
(So it took me a little while, but I did eventually get to the subject of one particular warbird...)
According to the FAA Aircraft Registration database online, Grumman Albatross serial number "86B
" was registered up until August 6, 2009 as N123RK
to SEA & AIR ADVENTURES LLC
, a Wilmington, DE registered corporation (meaning that they actually could have been located just about anywhere in the US. So far, there were no obvious ties to any of the Grumman Albatrosses listed on the Warbird Registry Albatross page (http://www.warbirdregistry.org/albatrossregistry/albatrossregistry.html
) and searches using the provided Google-powered search engine using the parameters "86B" and "SEA & AIR ADVENTURES LLC" turned up nada.
Any constructive suggestions?
Last edited by Rajay
on Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.