Solent Flying Boat at Oakland Aviation Museum-Oakland Aviation Museum (OAM)
The ex-BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation)
Short Solent Mark III flying boat.
Once owned by Howard Hughes substituted for a
Boeing China Clipper in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
During its heyday, the late 1940s, the Solent III would fly passengers from Southampton, England, to Johannesburg, South Africa roundtrip for $1,400—the modern-day equivalent of $35,000. There are only two of these flying boats left in the world.
When the museum offers guided tours on Sunday, most people flock to the flying boat. The Indy connection is a strong draw, as a scene was filmed on the plane’s second deck. A copy of Life Magazine marks the seat where Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones character sat in the movie. Everything inside the plane all original, from the cushioned dark green seats that look like they were made from old tweed sport coats, to the blue armrests that have ashtrays, to the “ladies lounge,” an Art Deco styled restroom that has a pink counter, pink cushioned stools and sinks.
Capacity: 34 passengers
Length: 87 ft 8 in (26.7 m)
Wingspan: 112 ft 9 in (34.3 m)
Height: 34 ft 3¼ in  (10.45 m)
Wing area: 1,487 ft² (138.1 m²)
Empty weight: 47,760 lb (21,670 kg)
Loaded weight: 78,000 lb (35,400 kg)
Powerplant: 4×Bristol Hercules 637 radial piston engine,
1,690 hp (1,261 kW) each
Maximum speed: 273 mph (237 knots, 440 km/h)
Cruise speed: 244 mph (212 knots, 393 km/h)
Range: 1,800 miles (1,565 naut mi, 2,900 km)
Service ceiling: 17,000 ft (5,200 m)
Rate of climb: 925 ft/min (4.7 m/s)
History of VH-TOB. Short S-45A Solent Mk 3. c/n S-1295
- Built by Short Bros at Rochester, Kent as a Seaford 1
- Delivered to Royal Air Force as NJ203 - October 24, 1946
Issued to No. 201 Squadron
- Returned to the U.K. Ministry of Transport & Civil Aviation - 1946
- Transferred to Short Bros & Harland as surplus to requirements - September 25, 1947
- Converted to Solent Mk III by Short Bros & Harland, Belfast to seat 39 passengers
- Registration marks 'G-AKNP' reserved - December 2, 1947
- Entered onto the British Aircraft Register as G-AKNP - March 19, 1949
- Registered to Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation
- Leased to British Overseas Airways Corporation - July 31, 1949
- Aircraft was named 'City of Cardiff'
- Operated final BOAC revenue service Augusta-Southampton - November 2, 1950
- Returned to Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation
- Placed in open storage at Belfast, Ireland
- Sold to Trans Oceanic Airways Pty Ltd - 1951
- Painted in full Trans Oceanic livery at Belfast prior to acceptance
- Accepted by Trans Oceanic Airways - March 23, 1951
- Departed Belfast on delivery flight to Australia as G-AKNP - March 24, 1951
- Arrived Sydney at conclusion of delivery flight - April 4, 1951
- Operated promotional flight Sydney - Hobart - April 6, 1951
- Operated promotional flight Sydney - Grafton - April 9, 1951
- Entered onto the Australian Aircraft Register as VH-TOB (CofR 1780) - May 1, 1951
- Registered to Trans Oceanic Airways Ltd
- Aircraft was named 'Star of Papua'
- Certificate of Airworthiness issued (CofA 1808) - May 22, 1951
- Entered regular commercial service on Sydney - Hobart service - May 22, 1951
- Operated inaugural Sydney - Brisbane - Port Moresby 'Chieftan Service' - May 26, 1951
- Flight crew: Captains K. H. Goddard, P. H. Mathieson
- Aircraft damaged after colliding with a fruit boat on the Brisbane River (Captain P.G. Taylor) - June 19, 1951
- Tempory repairs carried out at Colmslie before being ferried to Sydney for full repairs. Aircraft was out of service for four weeks
- Operated first non-stop Sydney - Hobart Solent service - July 25, 1951
- Flight crew: Captains P. H. Mathieson, H. F. Broadbent
- Lost number 4 propeller and reduction gear over Bass Strait on flight Sydney - Hobart - February 11, 1952
- Aircraft continued on to Hobart where a safe landing was made
- Repaired and returned to service - February 16, 1952
- Collided with a small cargo vessel whilst taking off from Brisbane River - March 22, 1952
- Aircraft was operating Brisbane-Port Moresby service
- Returned to service four weeks later following completion of repairs
- Withdrawn from service for maintenance - August 19 to October 21, 1952
- Operated final revenue service - April 15/16, 1953
- Trans Oceanic Airways ceased all operations due to bankruptcy - April 1953
- Sold by T.O.A.'s liquidators to Dollar Associates, Inc, Reno, USA - May 1, 1953
- Cancelled from the Australian Aircraft Register - February 12, 1954
- Entered onto the U.S. Aircraft Register as N9946F - May 1, 1954
- Departed Sydney on delivery flight to United States (Captain B. Monkton) - May 12, 1954
- Delivery route: Sydney - Fiji - Canton Island - Honolulu
- Aircraft was to be operated by South Pacific Airlines, Inc on Honolulu - Christmas Island - Tahiti services
- Aircraft was named 'Isle of Tahiti'
- Refurbished by Transocean Air Lines at Oakland, California for FAA certification - 1955 to 1958
- U.S. Certificate of Registration issued - October 29, 1958
- Test flown at Oakland, California in full South Pacific Airlines livery - November 13, 1958
- Flew proving flight Honolulu - Christmas Island - Papeete return - December 1958
- British Government announced thereafter that Christmas Island would be used for atomic bomb testing. This resulted in permission to use Christmas Island as a transit stop being withdrawn. Aircraft did not enter service and was flown back to Oakland (Captain B. Monkton).
- Sold to Hughes Tool Company and placed under armed guard at San Francisco Harbour - 1959
- Evicted from storage area it was towed to Richmond, California for further storage - 1967
- Sold to H & M Airline Services - February 1973
- Sold to R & H Gottelli - March 1973
- Sold to Rick & Randy Grant who intended to restore it to flying condition - December 1976 . This came about following an appeal from an aviation magazine to save the aircraft from being scrapped .
- Aircraft renamed 'Halcyon' in 1978
- Restoration commenced with assistance from 'Friends of Halcyon'
- Restoration group renamed 'Seaflite'
- Now a resident of the Oakland Aviation Museum, Oakland International Airport
- Used as a prop in film 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'
- Plans to complete aircraft to airworth condition to be used on flight to Honolulu did not eventuate
- On display outside the Oakland Aviation Museum as 'RAF NJ203'