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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
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On the Cover
1947 Grumman Mallard

"They don't make planes like that anymore," I thought outloud as the huge hangar doors opened to expose Roland LaFont's meticulously kept Grumman Mallard. The polished Jet Glo polyurethane jumped to life as the plane was pulled out into the Southern New Mexico sun. The piston rods glistened in the morning light, accenting the enormity of the cowled Pratt and Whitney R-1340 engines.

Roland opened the door at the rear of the aircraft, his words trying to hide his pride and excitement. But the glow in his eye and the smile on his face revealed his true feelings about his unique plane. The interior of the 12,000 pound seaplane was as immaculate as the exterior. The Mallard's cabin was completely refurbished in 1993, with improved soundproofing and a new first class executive interior by Higgins Interiors of Ardmore, OK. Fine gray leather and wood trim, combined with an updated heating system and sound proofing, provide a level of comfort usually reserved for the finest of executive jets.

This no-expenses-spared attention to detail has kept N2954 in showroom condition, despite the aircraft's 54 years of use. Completed on January 21, 1947, the classic amphibian has spent its life in good hands. First purchased by Howard Hughes, the plane was eventually owned by Hansa Jet, Precision Valve Company, and finally Walkers Cay Air Terminal, before being acquired by Roland LaFont in 1993.

Building on the success of the Goose and Widgeon, Grumman Aircraft developed the larger Mallard for commercial use. Retaining many of the features of the smaller aircraft, such as twin radials, high wings with under wing floats, retractable gear and a large straight tail, the company built 59 Mallards between 1946 and 1951. Unlike the smaller aircraft, the Mallard features tricycle gear, a stressed skin two step hull, and wingtip fuel tanks.

The Mallard prototype first flew on April 30, 1946, and the first production aircraft entered service in September of that year. While the Mallard was designed for regional airline operations with two pilots and 10 passengers, most of the 59 delivered were for corporate use. Today only 32 Mallards remain registered in the U.S.
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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
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©2001 Southwest Regional Publishing, Inc.