Beginning in 1957, Avalon Air Transport flew this Sikorsky VS-44A flying boat, dubbed "Mother Goose" by AAT employees, between Long Beach, California and Catalina Island. Originally, it was one of three VS-44s built by Sikorsky. Purchased by American Export Airlines in 1942, it was named "Excambian." This VS44 flew regular round trip service between New York and Foynes, Ireland under contract with Naval Air Transport Service. In 1950, the Excambian was reconfigured to carry freight to Amazon River natives. Their plan failed, leaving Excambian stranded in Ancon Harbor, Peru.
In 1957, Richard Probert purchased Excambian and after numerous setbacks, repaired it to flying condition. Probert flew the airplane from Ancon Harbor in Peru to Long Beach where, for the next ten years, the VS44 shuttled thousands of tourists between Long Beach and Catalina Island. In 1968, Probert sold the VS44 to Antilles Airboats in the Virgin Islands; however, it was severely damaged later that same year and was retired from service. After sitting for several years stranded on a beach, Antilles Airboats donated the VS44 to the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida and is now on permanent loan to the New England Air Museum.
VS44A at Long Beach dock
Passengers boarding from Avalon Pleasure Pier
Dick Probert scanning take-off path for floating debris from VS44 cockpit.
Dick Probert removing exhaust covers before engine start-up. The VS-44A was stored during the winter, and flew only during the summer seasons.