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Camper Plane: 1951 Grumman Albatross

1951 Grumman Albatross

What do you do when you want to go camping in the wilds of Alaska, but don’t want to sleep on the ground and don’t want to drive the RV all the way up there? Well, we have found the perfect solution! This 1951 Grumman Albatross has been outfitted with a custom interior so you can enjoy the comforts of home anywhere in the world. The best part though is that you don’t even need a runway to land it because this thing can land on water! It’s listed here on eBay with a $100k starting bid and an unknown reserve. Thanks goes to Dave W for the tip!

Luxury Living

This flying camper was refurbished in 1998 and includes many amenities such leather couches, bunk beds, TV, and a bathroom. Things may be a little dated inside, but it actually looks a lot like many of the old campers we have featured.

Bunk Beds

The bunk beds don’t look very comfy, but it’s got to be better than sleeping on the ground. There’s a mini bar, but no mention is made of a sink or stove so you might want to prepare your meals before taking off.


Good luck with that! It’s amazing to think that this thing was built in the fifties. It’s pretty intimating with all those switches and gauges all over. Obviously, you will need a very experienced pilot to move this big bird around for you.

Prepare For Takeoff

It may not be as fancy as a personal jet, but how many of those can land on water? We aren’t suggesting that anyone actually attempt to land this thing on a lake up in Alaska, but the thought is a fun one. Isn’t it? This is the perfect RV for those of us who actually don’t like to camp or drive…


  1. Van

    I’ve been playing the lottery just for something like this. Talk about go anywhere.
    I love a pair of big radial engines.
    Today converting to modern turboprops is much more efficient. Faster, better fuel economy, lower maintenance, better reliability. You can also upgrade the avionics to something you would buy today.

    On second thought, I need a fixer upper.
    I’ve described a restomod, but what would be pro touring? (Axillary jets?)

    Like 1
    • Ron Lund

      I’m sorry, but if you think a couple of turbine engines with equivalent power as these to radials is more efficient at using fuel……you are incorrect. However, what you will have is two engines that are superbly more reliable than those radials and that’s a really big plus when one of the two engines decides to quit on a takeoff run or at a low altitude. There’s a Grumman Albatross at the bottom of the Shelikov straits somewhere that would have liked to have had some turbines instead of radials back in about 1974 or so. The crew might be alive today as well.

      Like 2
      • Ray Wolfe

        Hi Ron,

        Just came across this post while doing research on the Albatross…Any chance you have any more details on the airplane you referred to?


        Ray Wolfe

        Like 0
  2. DirtyHarry

    The worst of all worlds, a boat and an airplane. Engines designed in the 20’s, that powered the B-17 flying fortress. Slow and loud. But what fun, if you have the ability to fly complex aircraft.

    Like 0
    • Walt

      “Engines designed in the ’20’s ” ? Please Harry, a little more accuracy would be
      nice, And to follow up Dude, you knock the Pratt & Whitney engines and the
      B -17’s Fortresses that paved the way to Victory in WW 2; plus you do this
      on the 4th of July weekend ? ?
      So, Harry when are you moving to Southern France ? Oh, wait, maybe you
      are there already .

      Like 1
      • Dave Wright

        These engines are Curtis Wright 1820’s……they were used in many different aircraft from Sikorsky helicopters to DC3’s and Navy S2 trackers. They are a great engine with many spares and ecpericaced technitions available.

        Like 1
      • DirtyHarry

        More specifically: The R-1820 Cyclone 9 represented a further development of the Wright P-2 engine dating back to 1925. Featuring a greater displacement and a host of improvements, the R-1820 entered production in 1931. The engine remained in production well into the 1950s. It powered almost everything. I don’t want to fly it today, no matter how great was and it was great.

        Like 0
  3. Trent Poole

    I am in love for the 935th time. This is just too cool.

    Like 1
  4. AlanB

    “intimating” s/b “intimidating”, Shirley?

    Like 0
  5. Chris A.

    These were used by the Coast Guard as Air-Sea rescue aircraft. Really strong, tough aircraft. At one time the formerly Rochester NY based Gannett Corporation had a junior one of these called a Goose that was used for flights into Canada. Slow and loud is exactly how I remembered it, but really neat. They didn’t call Grumman the “Iron Works” for nothing. Not a glass cockpit with all those analog gauges. They call them “steam gauges” now.

    Like 1
  6. Dave Wright

    I owned a sister ship to this old girl and knew the builder of this one well. These are a wonderful safe bird that can be owned and flown without spending Lear jet money. The only trouble with this one is the experimental rating. It can not be used for hire so it is pretty tough to make it pay for its self. Maureen O’Hara owned an airline that operated in the Carribean that flew a fleet of these and the builder of this one built one that he and his wife flew up the Amazon. It may have been this bird but he built several and I have not been able to confirm which serial number he used. We purchased my bird directly from Gruman, it had been laying in there yard for a couple of decades but was eligible for a normal rating so we could use it on a government contract we had. I knew a company in LA that owned a PBY that was used by employees for weekend play, I watched them water ski behind it in the Avalon harbor one time…………….fun stuff…..I am negotiating on a D18 right now. Another fun old bird.

    Like 3
    • Joe Howell

      I remember reading in “Air Classics” magazine back in the 70’s a mention of a Hollywood exec’s PBY. It had been decorated inside like Captain Nemo’s cabin using the movie props from the submarine “Nautilus” in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. After a pre flight I would fly behind those old engines in a heartbeat. Jets are for kids.

      Like 0
  7. Steve Link

    That is pretty cool!!!! And a lot more room than the PBY-5A Catalina “Landseaire” flying yacht in this article…..

    Like 1
    • Charles

      Steve, read the link you provided, great, but sad story. I had read before about the plane, but did not know the circumstances as to why it got there. Thanks!

      Like 0
      • Steve Link

        Same with me, I had hear and seen the results, but until they posted this article, did not know the full story. You can spend hours on their site with all the excellent stories and articles.

        Like 0
  8. Papa Martin

    I’m in love… don’t tell my wife.

    Like 0
  9. DarylK

    Jimmy Buffett, the parrot head himself, owns or owned one of these. He did a lot of flying with it in the Caribbean. Great for taking along a lot of stuff, including surf boards and other toys you might need off the beaten path. It’s a pretty challenging airplane to fly, not to mention feeding those big radials (engines, not tires) with expensive av fuel.

    Like 0
    • Rob

      Somewhere in all the boxes of stuff I have accumulated I have a picture of Jimmy’s bird parked in the harbor at Gitmo. He flew in, in 2002 with his drummer and gave us a free concert.

      Like 2
  10. Bruce Best

    The company that made these are know as the Iron Works for a very good reason. I do not know of any of the sea plane models that have any air worthiness directives on them. They are strong, as simple as possible and if anything can get you home these will.

    They take a special sea plane rating to fly them and you need to fly a minimum amount in one every year and a minimum amount of landings and take offs. This is critical as the procedures and techniques are very different. Also judging your altitude above the water is also tough. If it fits your wants and needs there are few planes better and while it is smaller than a PBY it also uses much less fuel. YEAAAAAA.

    Just remember service on those engines is expensive and critical landing on water with a dead engine is not something that is recommended no matter what your level of experience.

    Like 0
  11. Sweet Sue

    Look up Carl Alber if you want to learn something

    Like 1
  12. Jon

    The Goose, very similar, flew among San Juan and the USVI. If you ran fast and/or had strong elbows, you got to ride copilot.

    Like 0
    • Dave Wright

      The Goose is a great plane but much smaller……..basically a sea going Beech D18 with twin Pratt 985 450 hp engines. Several have been converted to turbines.

      Like 0
  13. Coventry Cat

    I love it. I wouldn’t even want to fly it.

    Like 0
  14. Van

    I’m thinking Pratt & Whitny 4360
    6000 HP
    Water takeoff 200 feet
    Cruise speed 450 +
    Climbing rate close to F15 territory.
    I don’t think I’m going to win the lottery either.

    Like 0
    • Walt

      No Chickens here ! 2 P&W 4360, extra duct tape on the wings and nacelles.
      maybe even F 16 territory. Once anyway.

      Like 0
  15. GreaserMatt

    Have you guys been drinking? LOL j/k… : )

    Like 0
  16. stillrunners

    the water birds….the story of the Clippers flying out of Cali…man what a time….and I just love me a PBY….and a lot of downed fliers loved them to….so cool a plane….

    Like 0
  17. Dan h

    There is one of these out at Camarillo airport here in SoCal. Got to climb inside for a peek a few years ago. Best part of the plane is the observation window under the cockpit in the nose!

    Like 0
  18. Dougm

    Wow Jesse! you certainly find the cool stuff:)
    Tough choice between one of these or a DC 3, Buffet’s had/has 3 Grumman’s, a Widgeon, Goose, and Albatross (on display outside Margaritaville Universal Orlando)
    I was lucky enough to get a tour thru the Goose awhile ago, the ultimate fishing boat, he had his fly rods in racks on the ceiling, the drool stained my shoes. I think it was the Albatross he spent a year in touring the hemisphere vacationing while he wrote
    “A Pirate Looks at Fifty”, a great read

    Like 0
  19. Jay E.

    Flew one of these in the 80’s with Dennis B. Left Stead, NV and landed on Tahoe. Lazed on the wings, used them for the best diving platform in the world. Flew home that evening. Amazing experience, the noise and fury of a water takeoff, the water sweeping past the side windows. I see the asking price is $375,000.00. That is probably closer to what it will cost to buy. The 100K price is a steal! Thanks BF for the post.

    Like 0
  20. Van

    Isn’t the Mallard the nicest of the Grumman flying boats.

    Like 0
  21. Mike V.

    10/10 I love it!

    You can fly to Monte Carlo, moor next to the super yachts, and watch the GP Knowing that you’re cooler than the rest of the millionaires

    Like 1
  22. JackT

    I’m reading this while listening to a DC-3 doing laps over our house — it’s supporting the air show over Ruston Way on 4th of July. As a kid, I loved standing behind these birds when they started up belching “full rich” mixture in a cloud of smoke at Chicago’s Midway Airport — then watching it all dissipate from prop blast. (Airport security was different back then.) My Dad was with United for 34 years, hired when their fleet consisted of just 54 DC-3s. There’s nothing like the sound of radials…

    Like 0
  23. Ken M.

    “We aren’t suggesting that anyone actually attempt to land this thing on a lake up in Alaska, but the thought is a fun one. Isn’t it?”

    HA, a li’l CYA there?

    Like 0
  24. daniel wright

    As of a few years ago there was the remains of one of these at the airport in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. It had made an emergency landing and never moved again. I last saw it about 7 years ago not sure if it’s still there. The fabric was starting to rot off the control surfaces.

    Like 0
  25. Dustin

    Get a pilot’s liscence and fly this everywhere this thing is beautiful.

    Like 0
  26. Bobby Longshot

    Yeah it’s simply magnificent.

    Like 0

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