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SA-16B “Albatross”
Serial number  51-7254


  • Wing Span — 96'8"

  • Length — 62'10"

  • Height — 25'11"

  • Maximum Speed — 230 M.P.H.

  • Service Ceiling — 23,800 Ft.

  • Range — 1,650 Miles

  • Crew — 6 plus 10 passengers

  • Armament — None

  • Engines — 2 x 1,425 H.P. Wright R-1820-76B radial engines

The Grumman "Albatross" proved itself during the Korean War. Originally a Grumman in-house design, the Albatross shows the sleek lines of its older siblings; the Grumman Mallard, Goose and Widgeon.

Used extensively in the Search and Rescue (SAR) roles by the U.S. Air Force, over 900 flyers were rescued in Korea by SA-16 crew. When not saving lives, the SA-16 (later designated HU-6) flew VIPs, cargo, and aerial ice flow and oil slick surveillance. Called upon again to serve in Vietnam, the Albatross saved many lives until being replaced by helicopter in the SAR role.

The Albatross was phased out of service by the Air Force in 1974. The SA-16 flew with the U.S. Navy until September, 1976, and soldiered on with the U.S. Coast Guard up to March, 1988. Over 20 other countries, in­cluding Greece, Norway, Japan and the Philippines, flew the Albatross.

The Museum’s SA-16B, Serial Number 51-7254, was manufactured by the Grumman Aircraft Corporation in Bethpage, NY. Originally built as a short wing SA-16A, our Albatross was delivered to the Air Force on January 18, 1954 and assigned to the 580th Air Resupply and Communications Group (ARCG), Wheelus Air Base (AB), Libya. With

the 580th, 51-7254 flew classified missions, infiltration and exfiltration of special forces, and psychological operations in the middle east, southern Europe, North Africa, and Russia. The 580th also supported the CIA, recovering two U-2 pilots after their aircraft had crashed. In September 1956, 51-7254 was transferred to the 7272nd Air Base Group at Wheelus AB when the 580th was deactivated.

In 1957 our Albatross received the “long wing” conversion and redesignated SA-16B before being assigned to the 354th Fighter-Day Wing at Myrtle Beach AFB, NC. Deployed to Seymour Johnson AFB, NC, 51-7254 flew search and rescue missions until being retired to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ in 1960.

A new lease on life was obtained when the Coast Guard took possession, rechristening her USCG 7254. 7254’s first flight with the Coast Guard occurred at Air Station Traverse City, MI in February 1965. Transferred to Air Station Miami, FL in November 1966, the “Goat” (the Coast Guards nickname for the Albatross) served there until being transferred again to Air Station Annette, AK in January 1970. Serving two years in Alaska, 7254 flew search and rescue missions before being transferred to Air Station Cape Cod, MA. In April 1979, 7254 performed its final flight with the Coast Guard and was retired once again and returned to the boneyard. At some point 51-7254 was in the Smithsonian’s collection before being transferred back to the Air Force in 1988.

In June 1989 the Travis AFB Aviation Museum officially took possession of 51-7254. On April 8, 1989, our Albatross was flown from the Davis-Monthan boneyard to Travis AFB. After being repainted in Air Force colors, 51-7254 placed on static display at the museum.

Information based on, “Travis Heritage Center” by Nick Veronico, copyright Travis AFB Historical Society and Travis AFB Heritage Center Foundation.

This book is available from the Travis Heritage Center gift shop.

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