When I got to work last week, I scanned the ramp as I usually do to see the aircraft that were parked there. Among the normal prop and jet aircraft, there was one that stood out. It was a Grumman Widgeon G-44.
I have promised myself one thing regarding photography: If you see something that you want to take a picture of, don’t wait – take it now. I’ve passed countless ‘Kodak Moments’ and at the end of the day, regretted that I didn’t pause and take that shot that might end up being the best shot of the day or of that trip. When my first break came up on my shift, I grabbed my camera and drove over to the ramp to take pictures of this beautifully restored sea plane.
Grumman built several amphibious aircraft with a trio of them being a Goose, a Mallard and this one, the smallest, a Widgeon. It was originally designed in 1940 for the Navy and Coast Guard but this model was a civilian version built in 1948. I’ve been around lots of vintage aircraft and I know the pains and patience that it takes to restore and maintain one of these finicky planes. When they’re this old, parts are impossible to find. They have to be specially made just for this one airplane. This one is one of the finest restorations that I’ve seen. Void of rust and sporting a perfect paint job, this Widgeon something everyone can appreciate.
The clean cockpit instrument panel, the newer engines and the upholstered interior have all been upgraded and retro-fitted. I didn’t see a crack in the plexiglass passenger windows, nor did I see any rust on any of the rivets or hinges. Not a drop of oil or fluid leaked from it either. It was gorgeous!
After snapping a bunch of shots, I returned to my shift in the tower and wouldn’t you know it, about 2 hours later, the pilot of this aircraft called for taxi and takeoff instructions. I’m glad I kept to my photo philosophy – don’t wait or pass it up, take that shot NOW!
I cleared the pilot for takeoff on his return trip up to Oklahoma and warmly thanked him for taking such great care of his airplane. Now, 64 years after production, this Widgeon is a flying memorial to the achievements of the aviation industry.