The versatile "Albatross" amphibian was designed to meet a Navy requirement for a utility aircraft which could operate from land or water and, with skis, from snow and ice. The prototype first flew on 24 October 1947 and soon after, the USAF ordered a quantity for air-sea rescue duties as SA-16As.  (In 1962 the USAF designation was changed to the HU-16.)  Grumman delivered 297 As to the Air Force; most were assigned to the Air Rescue Service.

In 1955, Grumman developed an improved version with a 16 1/2 foot increase in wingspan and larger aileron and tail surfaces.  Beginning in 1957, many As were converted to the B configuration with these improvements.

The Albatross is best known as a rescue aircraft.  During the Korean Conflict, Albatrosses rescued almost 1,000 United Nations personnel from costal waters and rivers, often behind enemy lines.  They also made numerous dramatic and hazardous rescues in Southeast Asia, on occasion taxing many miles over rough, open water when unable to takeoff.

Warner Robins Air Logistics Center was responsible for program management and logistics support for all HU-16s in the USAF inventory. The aircraft on display was delivered to the USAF in December 1954 and assigned to the 41st Air Rescue Squadron at Hamilton AFB, California. In June 1964 it was transferred to the 33rd Air Rescue Squadron at Naha AB, Okinawa, Japan. While assigned to the 33rd it made numerous deployments to Vietnam, performing rescue operations from various bases in the area. In April 1967 it returned to the United States and served with various units before being retired from the 301st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Training Squadron at Homestead AFB, Florida in June 1971. It was one of the first aircraft placed at the Museum of Aviation in 1983.


Span 96 feet 8 inches
Length 62 feet 10 inches
Height 25 feet 10 inches
Weight 36,000 lbs max
Engines Two Wright R-1820s of 1,425 hp each
Cost $510,000
Serial Number 51-7144
Maximum Speed 250 mph
Cruising Speed 165 mph
Range 1,650 miles
Service Ceiling 20,500 feet



 Museum of Aviation       GA Hwy 247 & Russell Parkway      Warner Robins, GA 31088       (478) 926-6870