Historical Snapshot

B-1 Seaplane

The B-1 was the company’s first offering for the civil market, and although it had a successful career, only one was built. A “pusher-style” flying boat, with its engine at the rear, it could carry a pilot and two passengers, as well as mail or cargo. The hull was laminated wood veneer, and the wing frames were spruce and plywood.

After first flight on Dec. 27, 1919, it outlasted six engines in eight years of international airmail runs between Seattle, Wash., and Victoria, British Columbia. In an era with few airports, a boat that could land on water made sense. Flown by Eddie Hubbard, the B-1 covered 350,000 miles (563,000 kilometers) — remarkable for the time.

The B-1 mail flights took off from Lake Union in Seattle, and today, meticulously restored, it hangs from the ceiling of the Museum of History and Industry on the shore of Seattle’s Lake Union that served as its base of operations.

    Technical Specifications

    First flight Dec. 27, 1919
    Model number 6
    Classification Civil flying boat
    Span 50 feet 3 inches
    Length 31 feet 3 inches
    Gross weight 3,850 pounds
    Top speed 90 mph
    Cruising speed 80 mph
    Range 400 miles
    Ceiling 13,300 feet
    Power 200-horsepower Hall-Scott L-6 or 400-horsepower Liberty engine
    Accommodation 1 pilot, 2 passengers