A few years ago I attended a conference in Albuquerque. I arrived at ABQ late in the evening and headed toward baggage claim. Walking through the terminal I made my usual scan of the airport’s amenities. I like to know what the airport offers just in case my return trip becomes a campout. Food court, check; sports bar, check; news stand, several; wooden propeller… what?!?
A small exhibit with a wooden propeller hanging on the wall above it caught my eye. As I got closer I was surprised to see an unmistakable silhouette. Inside the display case was a scale miniature of the wacky flying catamaran from Italy known as the Savoia-Marchetti SM.55. An unusual flying boat–or more accurately two boats–joined by a massive wing.
The story of this propeller and how it ended up in Albuquerque, New Mexico is a tale of international intrigue– and an overlooked bit of aviation history. Continue reading A Seaplane in the Desert