N928J – Grumman Albatross – “The Hemisphere Dancer”

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Jimmy Buffett’s most famous airplane is his 1954 Grumman HU-16 Albatross, dubbed the Hemisphere Dancer. In their early years, the twin-engine amphibious flying boats were used primarily as search-and-rescue aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

In 1996, the Hemisphere Dancer was shot at by Jamaican authorities as it taxied in the water near Negril. The Jamaicans had mistaken it for a drug-runner’s plane, though Jimmy had “only come for chicken”, he was not “the ganja plane.” U2’s Bono was also on board the plane, but neither him nor Buffett were hurt. Like the great songwriter he is, Buffett penned a tune about the incident: Jamaica Mistaica appeared on the album Banana Wind.

In 2003, Jimmy retired the Hemisphere Dancer and put it on display at the Lone Palm Airport outside of his Margaritaville Cafe in Orlando, Florida. It sits there to this day, and visitors can walk right up to the Albatross at the Universal Studios CityWalk attraction.

Though without a flyable seaplane, Buffett still had a Cessna 208 Caravan on amphibious floats. And in 2009, he bought a 1939 Grumman Widgeon seaplane.


General
Manufacturer: Grumman
Model: HU-16C Albatross
N-Number: N928J
Year: 1954
Serial Number: 137928

Performance    
Cruise Speed: 130 kts
Max Range: 2,477 nm
Service Ceiling: 25,000 ft

Engines (2)    
Manufacturer: Wright
Model: R-1820-76
Engine Power: 1475 hp
Cruise Fuel Burn: 53 gal/hr
per engine

photo by Chris Markerson

photo by Chris Markerson



Landing on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin

Landing on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin



Interior of the Hemisphere Dancer

Interior of the Hemisphere Dancer