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The Grumman HU-16 Albatross is a large twin-radial engine amphibious flying boat. Originally designated SA-16, it was renamed HU-16 in 1962. An improvement of the design of the Grumman Mallard, the Albatross was developed to land in open ocean situations to rescue downed pilots. Its deep-V cross-section and substantial length enable it to land in the open sea. The Albatross was designed for optimal 4 ft seas, and could land in more severe conditions, but required JATO for takeoff in 8-10 ft seas or greater. Since the aircraft weighs over 12,500 pounds, pilots of US-registered Albatross aircraft must have a type rating. There is a yearly Albatross fly-in at Boulder City, Nevada where Albatross pilots can become type rated. The HU-16 was also operated by the U.S. Coast Guard as both a coastal and long-range open ocean SAR aircraft for many years until it was supplanted by the HU-25 Guardian and HC-130 Hercules. Many surplus Albatrosses were sold to civilian operators, mostly to private owners. These aircraft are operated under either Experimental - Exhibition or Restricted category and cannot be used for commercial operations, except under very limited conditions. Hemisphere Dancer is the name of singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett's personal seaplane. A Grumman HU-16 Albatross flying boat, serial number 137928 and civil registration number N928J, the aircraft is central to the action in Buffett's best-selling autobiography A Pirate Looks at 50. In 2003, Jimmy retired the aircraft from active flying service. Currently, it resides at Buffett's Margaritaville in Orlando, Florida. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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