July 1, 2015 - Seventy years ago this year the prototype Republic RC-3 Seabee seaplane made its first flight in Farmingdale, New York, and seaplane enthusiasts will recognize that milestone at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015. A dozen or more examples of the four-seat, all-metal amphibian are expected to attend and participate in special activities both on convention grounds and at the Vette Seaplane Base.
Land-based Seabees will be parked in rows south of the ultralight landing strip for most of the week, while at the Vette Seaplane Base a number of activities are planned for the latter part of the week and weekend. They include a presentation under the big tent on Seabee history at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 24.
Later Friday there will be flybys at both the seaplane base as well as at Wittman, with special parking of all the attending Seabees in the lagoon to try and set a world record of Bees all in one spot. According to the seaplane chairman, they already have 12 airplanes confirmed to attend.
“If we were to get a dozen, we’d be really happy,” said Paul Seehafer, chairman of the EAA Seaplane Base. “The Seabee community is very close-knit, and they’re real excited about us honoring them this year, so we’re hoping to get more examples in one place than anywhere in the last four or five decades.”
On Saturday, July 25, tune into EAA Radio at 10 a.m. for live interviews of Seabee pilots and “other interesting characters” at the Seaplane Base.
In a related story, Canadian company Robinson V-8 Power, which is designing a modern all-composite seaplane based on the Seabee, will participate at the Friday morning presentation.
The Seabee was one of the aircraft type that saw large numbers of airplanes built after World War II as aircraft manufacturers hoped that military pilots returning from the war would continue flying civilian aircraft as private pilots. While that did not occur to the extent companies predicted, Republic Aviation Corp. built a total of 1,060 Seabees, falling shy of the company’s predicted production rate of 5,000 per year. Still, only Piper’s Cub and Super Cub, Beechcraft’s Bonanza, and Cessna’s 140s and 150s surpassed the Bee in numbers produced.
Republic sold its last new Seabee in 1948 and refocused on military contracts. I developed the F-84 Thunderjet, which was built on the same assembly lines used to build over 1,000 Seabees.