|A replica Sikorsky S-38 being positioned for display at AirVenture, Oshkosh in 2006.|
|Role||Amphibious flying boat|
|National origin||United States|
|First flight||25 May 1928|
|Primary users||Pan American Airways|
United States Army
New York, Rio, and Buenos Aires Line
|Developed from||Sikorsky S-34|
The Sikorsky S-38 was an American twin-engined ten-seat sesquiplane amphibious aircraft. It was Sikorsky's first widely produced amphibious flying boat, serving successfully for Pan American Airways and the United States military.
The S-38 was developed based upon experience with the Sikorsky S-34 and S-36. The S-38 first flew in May 1928. According to Sikorsky, "The ship had very good takeoff characteristics from land and water. It had a climb of 1,000 feet (300 m) per minute fully loaded, and a maximum speed close to 130 miles per hour (210 km/h). The ship could cruise nicely around 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), and it stayed in the air on one engine. All these features were excellent for 1928 and at that time there were no other amphibians with such performance characteristics. In 1929, an S-38 was used by Colonel Lindbergh to inaugurate air mail service between the United States and the Panama Canal." The United States Navy ordered two aircraft, and Pan Am was an early customer.
A total of 101 aircraft were built, manufactured originally by the Sikorsky Manufacturing Corporation of Long Island, New York, and by the Sikorsky Aviation Corporation in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Sikorsky was acquired by United Aircraft and Transport Corporation in mid-production.
Some notable private owners include:
During the 1990s two reproduction S-38s were built by the late Buzz Kaplan's “Born Again Restorations,” of Owatonna, Minnesota. One was produced for Samuel Curtis Johnson Jr., the son of Herbert Fisk Johnson, to recreate his father's flight, which he completed in 1998. As of August 2017[update] the plane is suspended from the ceiling of Fortaleza Hall in the S. C. Johnson & Son company headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin . The other S-38 replica, N28V, appeared in the movie The Aviator (2004), a story loosely based on the life of Howard Hughes, who owned an S-38 during his lifetime. As of August 2017[update] it is owned by Kermit Weeks and located at the Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk City, Florida, bearing the Osa's Ark paint scheme.
Data from Aerofiles : Sikorsky, American flying boats and amphibious aircraft : an illustrated history
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
In 1935, Herbert F. Johnson, then the company's president, flew the original model of the S-38 from Racine to the Brazilian city of Fortaleza in search of a lasting source of wax from the carnauba palm tree.
Their trip re-created one that Fisk and Curt's grandfather, H.F. Johnson Jr., made in 1935. In that journey, he flew to Fortaleza in search of a sustainable source of the carnauba palm tree, then the indispensable ingredient in Johnson Wax.