Nov 112013

“Dubbed Osa’s Ark for its definitive zebra paint scheme based on the S-38 filmmakers/authors Osa and Martin Johnson flew over Africa in the 1930s.

Igor Sikorsky’s first flying boat design, the S-38’s maiden flight was in 1928. It was called “The Explorer’s Air Yacht” and “The Flying Yacht,” and a total of 110 were produced and used by adventure seekers and fledging airline companies. Schrade’s S-38 reproduction was built with original Sikorsky plans by the late Buzz Kaplan’s “Born Again Restorations,” of Owatonna, Minnesota.

Beginning August 20, he will make a charity flight from Minnesota to Berlin, Germany, in cooperation with The Wings of Hope, which provides support for other humanitarian organizations worldwide through the coordination of air transport for rescue workers, supplies, and patients. From Minnesota, the S-38 will cross Labrador, South Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Faeroe Islands, London, Brussels, and Frankfurt, before arriving in Berlin.”

In the early 1950s, this writer recalls watching the B&W TV program I Married Adventure”. Osa Johnson hosted the showing of films that she and her photographer husband, Martin Johnson had made in a lifetime of exploration in Africa and Borneo. Martin was killed in the crash of a commercial DC-3 in Newhall, CA on approach to Burbank Airport.

There is now a display in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo commemorating the couple’s many expiditions there. Interestingly, in WWII that north Borneo town and its neighboring Sandakan were attacked by the B-25 Strafers of the 345th Bomb Group “Air Apaches”. Another episode of interest to this writer.

The home museum of the Martin and Osa Johnson Foundation is in Osa’s home town of Chanute, Kansas. More on the Johnson.s remarkable life in a later blog. It would be fun to do a whole PowerPoint presentation on this fascinating couple.


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