A rare, twin-engine Sikorsky S-38 amphibious aircraft reproduction returns to AirVenture 2010 for the first time in several years. It won't be difficult to spot Thomas Schrade's aircraft, dubbed Osa's Ark for its definitive zebra paint scheme based on the S-38 filmmakers/authors Osa and Martin Johnson flew over Africa in the 1930s. The only S-38 aircraft flying in the world, Osa's Ark last appeared at AirVenture Oshkosh three years ago.
Igor Sikorsky's first flying boat design, the S-38's maiden flight was in 1928. It was called "The Explorer's Air Yacht" and "The Flying Yacht," and a total of 110 were produced and used by adventure seekers and fledging airline companies. Schrade's S-38 reproduction was built with original Sikorsky plans by the late Buzz Kaplan's "Born Again Restorations," of Owatonna, Minnesota, along with Sam Johnson's Carnauba S-38. Johnson used his plane to retrace the 1930s flight made to South America by his father in search of a carnauba palm supply for the family's business, Johnson Wax.
Construction began in 2000 and totaled some 40,000 man-hours.
With Carnauba now permanently on display at S.C. Johnson & Sons in Racine, Wisconsin, Osa's Ark is the world's only flying example of an S-38. And Schrade is planning a long-distance flight of his own a few weeks after AirVenture. Beginning August 20, he will make a charity flight from Minnesota to Berlin, Germany, in cooperation with The Wings of Hope, which provides support for other humanitarian organizations worldwide through the coordination of air transport for rescue workers, supplies, and patients. From Minnesota, the S-38 will cross Labrador, South Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Faeroe Islands, London, Brussels, and Frankfurt, before arriving in Berlin.
Schrade flew this aircraft in the movie The Aviator which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes.
He plans to arrive in Oshkosh on Sunday, July 25, and the airplane will be on display throughout the week in the Vintage Aircraft area. Some flights during the week are planned, including possible some to the EAA Seaplane Base.
- Crew: 2
- Wingspan: 72 ft 6 in.
- Length: 40 ft 3 in.
- Passengers: 6 maximum
- Gross Weight: 10,480 lbs
- Engines: Two 450 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp (985) Radials
- Cruising Speed: 110 mph
- 16,000 ft
- 750 nm