Kurth's Seabees

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N6314K

Herman Kurth's Seabee N6314K (s/n 537)
Under rebuild at Boeing Field, Washington, ca. 1961.
Carl Andrew at wing.
Photo: Herman Kurth
 

Herman Kurth's Seabee NC6249K (s/n 456)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1957.
Photo: Herman Kurth

In 1957 I bought Seabee NC6249K from Roland Sheriff at Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  The flight home to Mount Vernon, Washington, was wonderful. Good weather all the way. In December 1957 a storm broke the tie downs and put the Seabee on its back.

Herman Kurth's Seabee N6249K (s/n 456)
Waterfall, Alaska, 1958.
Photo: Herman Kurth

It took me until March of 1958 to get it back in the air. Luckily I had been exposed to several Seabees and received a lot of good advice from Bob Monroe, at Kenmore Air Harbor in Seattle.  I really liked 49K.  It performed just like the book said it would; 105mph cruise etc.  I used it to haul my tool box around south-east Alaska. I was Port engineer for the Nakat Packing Corp. at their Waterfall salmon cannery.

I sold 49K to Wayne Learn in 1960.  In 1961 Bob Monroe sold me enough parts to put N6314K back together.  I used every trick in the book I had learned from Bob Monroe (flush gas cap, wing extensions etc.). Bob had told me that I could make it cruise an honest 120mph and he was right. I sold it to a fellow in Juneau, Alaska.

Herman Kurth's Seabee N6056K (s/n 231)
Yakutat, Alaska.
Photo: Herman Kurth

My next Bee was N6056K. 56K was a real dog it barely cruised 90 mph. I tinkered around with it some and was going to get it up to speed, but after a long flight from Yakutat, Alaska, to Boeing field in Seattle. I unloaded my baggage into my pickup. When I started it up to taxi to a tie down area, it shook so bad that I had to shut it down. One of the small arms that attaches the propeller blade to the jack plate had broken at mid point from a stress fracture. I am sure more than one jack plate has failed due to stress cracks. I put a used jack plate assembly on the engine. Flew 56K to Kenmore and traded it in on a new 1967 Cessna 180. I have not been for a ride in a Seabee since.

I think the Seabee is a great airplane, but I hated the Franklin engine. It gets damn lonely when you are a long way from home and one of the exhaust valve seats comes loose. I always kept a cylinder assembly ready to install. I had a spare geared starter and I used a battery made for a big Oldsmobile instead of the one that was required. (The large battery weight made up for the lead nose weights I removed).  I have a lot of wonderful memories from my Seabee days and can still tell when a Seabee is flying over before I look.

 

Herman Kurth  2003-11-01
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PS!
S/N 456 (ex N6249K) was registered on Canadian CAR as C-GRPJ 1975 - 1986.  Current location is unknown.

S/N 537 (N6314K) was cancelled from US CAR in 1996.  Current location is unknown.

S/N 231 (N6056K) is one of very few Seabees flying with Continental IO-470P engine.  She has since 1979 been owned by Mr. Thomas M. Ord; Wauna, WA.

 

 

Retrieving a Downed Cessna 180...

 

Repairing Herman Kurth's Cessna 180 N7641A
Day 14 at Yahtse River Camp
Alaska 1971
Photo: Herman Kurth

While most of these photos are not of Seabees, they will give an idea what it is like to get a Cessna 180 up and running again, after a tire blew on a beach landing.  Herman had to fly in a horizontal stabilizer and 2 elevators with an 180 on floats plus all the supplies needed for a 2 week stay.  Luckily the landing area on the Yahtse River near Icy Bay, Alaska, was only 100 yards away.  There were at least 6 large brown bears in the immediate area that he had to keep a close eye on...  After 2 weeks of hard work alone, his friend Jim Hayton flew in a couple of mags and Herman made it back to Yakutat.

A windy day at Walter Johnson's
Yahtse River Camp, Alaska, 1971
Jim Hayton is installing a magneto...
Photo: Herman Kurth

Many years ealier, in 1957, Herman had an engine problem while flying his Ryan PT 22 and wrecked it on emergency landing. The Ryan was stored for several years in a shed.  Near where it was stored lived a 12 year old boy by the name of Jim Hayton. He liked to sit in the Ryan and pretend he was flying it. When Jim was 17 years old (1965), Herman took Jim with him on a trip from Mt. Vernon (WA) to Yakutat, Alaska, in SeaBee N6056K. While they were in Yakutat, Herman and Jim did some maintenance work on Cessna 180s owned by a life long friend of Herman, Dick Nichols, who owned Gulf Air Taxi in Yakutat..

During their stay in Yakutat, Jim developed a passion for the Cessna 180. On returning home he scrounged up enough parts from several wrecked 180s and put a 180 together the next year. He later sold the 180 to a missionary in Mombasa, Kenya.  When it arrived in Mombasa Jim uncrated it, assembled it and checked out the new owner in it.

Jim Hayton and Larry Bemis
'Yahtse River Camp' near Icy Bay, Alaska, 1971
Photo: Herman Kurth

Over the years Jim has had a lot of experience retrieving downed airplanes from the Alaska bush.  In 1978 Jim Hayton bought 40 acres of land about 15 miles up the Skagit river from Mt. Vernon, at Day Creek. Since then Jim and his family have accumulated enough Cessnas, Beavers, Otters and various other wrecks to cover several acres. The Aerial view Herman took summer 2002 only takes in a small part of Jim's airplane 'grave yard'. [James B. Hayton; 30578 Walberg Road, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284, USA].

Jim Hayton's
Day Creek, WA
Photo: Herman Kurth

He frequently lands seaplanes on the grass to do maintenance on them. Jim Hayton's rebuild shop works on Beavers and Cessnas primarily. When his shop is finished working on them, he flies them off the grass strip. It is quite a sight to see a Beaver float plane take off or land on his strip!

Republic Seabee N6115A (s/n 912)
Photo: Herman Kurth

Occasionally they work on Seabees.  Herman spotted the ORCA Seabee at Jim's bush strip in August 2000.  It is still believed to be there...

Herman Kurth 
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Updated: 2010-11-24

2004-2010 Steinar Saevdal