Fleetwings Sea Bird F-401 NC16793
- Capacity: four
- Length: 32 feet
- Maximum speed: 150 mph
- Cruise speed: 139 mph
- Range: 520 miles
- Service ceiling: 14,500 feet
The Fleetwings Sea Bird was an amphibious utility aircraft designed in 1935 by James C. Reddig for Fleetwings Inc. of Bristol, Pennsylvania.
The Sea Bird was unusual with its “Shot-Welded” stainless steel construction. It was a high-wing, wire-braced monoplane, with its 285-horsepower Jacobs L-5, seven-cylinder radial engine housed in a nacelle mounted above the wings on struts.
Fifty aircraft were planned for production, but its $22,500 Depression-era price tag found no sustainable market—only six were built.
Civil Air Patrol coastal patrol bases flew two Sea Birds; a “bubble”-canopy F-503 (NC19192) at Coastal Patrol Base No. 9 at Grand Isle, Louisiana, and the original F-401 prototype (NC16793) out of Coastal Patrol Base No. 10 in Beaumont, Texas.
Pilot and engineer Lt Col James C. Reddig’s CAP service spanned more than 50 years following the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.
Maj. Ron Finger is a freelance illustrator and member of the Minnesota Wing’s Crow Wing Composite Squadron. The longtime military and aviation history buff’s earliest aviation painting assignments appeared as covers for in-flight magazines.
Later, Minneapolis defense contractors like 3M, Control Data, Honeywell and Unisys kept Finger busy with painting assignments for aircraft, submarines, ships, and tanks. In 2012 he joined the Air Force Art Program, where a select pool of artists are assigned “art missions” to document specific U.S. Air Force Operations.
Painting “to honor those who serve” is the motto on the art program patch and defines Finger’s continuing efforts as an aviation artist. His new staff position as CAP’s national artist feeds his passions for researching and creating art that portrays historical emergency service. A pet goal is to complete paintings documenting every aircraft type CAP has flown.
More of Finger’s CAP art work can be seen at redpine.net.