The flying boat that went surfing

October 2, 2017 | Surfing
Grumman HU-16A Albatross: the next big thing in big wave surfing

"Flying Boat" is a film about... flying boats. And the crew behind the documentary decided to try something completely out-of-the-box.

Could a surfer get towed by a fixed-winged seaplane? Does a Grumman HU-16A Albatross generate enough wake waves for surfing? The beauty says yes, so off we go.

The amphibious creature can take off and land in eight-to-ten-foot seas, so the conditions were just perfect - sunny skies, low winds, and glassy and flat waters.

"Flying boats were crucial to the beginning of aviation and to a romantic connection to the imagination that brought an entire world to change their way of thinking about travel," explains Tom Casey, the man who restored the old machine and brought it back to life.

"Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was the graveyard of some of these last existing remnants of that era. When I saw the Albatross for the first time, I decided that was my mountain to climb."

There were only 466 flying boats made between 1949 and 1961, so those who still draw lines in the skies are true aviation gems. And this one's probably the first Grumman HU-16A Albatross who gave surfing a go.