If you possess great sums of money but are lacking in the style department, you might want to buy this awesome looking 1945 Grumman G44A Widgeon amphibious aircraft, which might just be the ultimate vintage adventure vehicle. Sure, you could easily spend $325,000 on a luxury motorhome, but then again, those can’t fly or operate from water!
Here’s a little backstory on the Widgeon, in case you’re unfamiliar. Although they were originally designed for use by civilians, Widgeons first hit the market in the early 1940s and were used by several militaries to patrol for submarines and other light utility work during and after World War II. So, not only could you brag to your friends that you own an aircraft made by the same company that manufactured the legendary F-14 Tomcat, just think of all the fun you could have pretending to hunt for enemy U-boats.
Amphibious aircraft afford owners the ability to operate from land or water, which means the potential uses for this gorgeous Widgeon are bounded mostly by your imagination. If you’re the romantic type, you could use it to have the ultimate picnic on an island that’s otherwise really tricky to access. Or, maybe you live in a place like Minnesota with no shortage of lakes; you could use your new Widgeon to try to visit all of them. Do you enjoy fishing? This could open up an abundance of new opportunities for you to spend time away from your home or office.
Note: This video does not show the exact aircraft offered for sale, but it does depict a very similar example on a four day cross country journey.
The G44A Widgeon is slightly improved over the original G44 model, featuring a redesigned hull that improves handling on the water. Power on the Widgeon we’re featuring today comes from a pair of six-cylinder horizontally opposed Lycoming engines with three-bladed propellers, each making 212 horsepower. This airframe has racked up just over 5,000 hours since new, but when you consider that it is 70 years old, that seems pretty damn good.
Most Widgeons in operational condition today have had an engine conversion at some point, which appears to be the case with this example. Widgeons were originally manufactured with a pair of 200 HP, six-cylinder inline inverted air-cooled Ranger L-440 engines mated to two-bladed propellers, which were made by a division of now-defunct Fairchild. With the original engines, Widgeons had a 920 mile range, a cruising speed of 138 miles per hour and a 700 feet per minute rate of climb. The engine conversion is definitely a welcome benefit, and these performance numbers will only improve.
Interestingly, this exact aircraft (construction number 1414) was previously registered to the Knox Gelatine Company, which is now a brand of Kraft Foods. This is the most likely explanation for its registration (C-FNOX). If you’re the lucky person who buys this thing, it would be very fitting to celebrate your new purchase with a tasty gelatinous dessert.
With seating for five, there’s plenty of room for you to bring family and friends along on your aquatic/airborne adventures. The cockpit also has an impressive list of upgrades that were installed in 2008, including a Garmin 530W GPS/navigation/communication multifunction display, a GMA 347 audio panel, an Artex ME406 emergency locator transmitter, a Sandel SN3500 navigation display, a Century III autopilot flight system and several various other modern niceties. There’s a new windshield as well, and the white and blue paint (new as of 2009) appears to be in great shape.
Across all variants of the Widgeon, there were a total of only 317 airframes produced. As time has marched on, the number of aircraft in operational condition has dwindled significantly. If you can’t stand the idea of having the same amphibious adventure aircraft as your neighbor, it would behoove you to take a careful look at this Widgeon simply because of its rarity. At the time of this writing, there are a few other Widgeons on the market, but Grumman (which Northrop acquired in 1994) certainly isn’t making any more of them!
This Widgeon has classic lines, a great pedigree and appears to be in outstanding condition considering its age. It would look awesome parked next to your lake house, and would definitely attract plenty of attention anywhere you go. You would also score major points for preserving a part of aviation history.
So, what do you have to say about this unique and intriguing historic aircraft? Is it worth the money? If so, where would you go exploring?
Photo credit: Kathy Wrobel/Prairie Aircraft Sales, Ltd.
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