August 2008] On
their way to Åland, the beautiful island
between Sweden and Finland, on vacation, www.seabee.info webmaster Steinar Saevdal
and his wife Camilla did some Seabee hunting...
The proud history of Seabee amphibians in Sweden is
closely connected to the company AB Hans Osterman, since 1908 a well known
distributor of American automobiles and trucks in Sweden. During
WW2 Osterman turned their attention to aviation business, when the
sub-company AB Aero Service was founded in 1944. They became a
distributor for the Danish KZ airplanes. After WW2 the company also
imported several Auster Autocars.
Late fall 1945 president of company, Lennart
Osterman, and two of
Osterman's senior executives; Olof Sefeldt and K. H. Björngård, visited the USA to see several aircraft manufacturers,
including Republic Aviation and Bell Helicopters in New York. In
November 1945 Republic announced that AB Hans Ostermans had been
appointed Seabee distributor for all Sweden. This was a very wise decision, because the Seabee soon
stirred a huge interest in Sweden. During the years 1946 - 1948,
Ostermans imported more than 20 new Seabees to Sweden. Ostermans
also imported the first Bell 47 helicopters to Europe in 1946.
The first Seabee
destined for Sweden, SE-AXA (s/n 109), was officially delivered from Republic
Aviation on 7 November 1946 and shipped from New York by ship in January 1947.
Summer 1947 the company changed
name to Ostermans Aero AB and even started their own air taxi operations,
using Seabees and several other aircraft types, including helicopters.
Many Swedes got their first airplane ride in Ostermans Aero's Seabees
during the the late 1940s and the 1950s...
One of the kids who got his first airplane ride in a Seabee in the
1950s was Ulf Engström, who grew up in Mariefred west of
Stockholm. When he was a 8-year old boy, his parents gave him a
ticket for a ride in a Seabee probably operated by Ostermans. This
started his strong aviation
interest, and of course he grew up to become a professional pilot!
Ulf got his basic flight training in the Swedish Air
Force and Navy in 1974. In the Navy he was a commander of SAR and
special missions on twin rotor helicopter Boeing Vertol 107. He served
as instructor pilot and technical pilot in the Swedish Navy until 1983.
Later he was a civil helicopter pilot, flying in such
exotic places as Greenland and Svalbard, and less exotic - Norway and
In Norway he was employed by Lufttransport A/S as
Training Captain, operating Bell 205, 212 and 214. Work included power
line construction works, ambulance and arctic missions. This was followed
by two years at Greenland Air Charter, flying Bell 212’s in arctic
For a few years Ulf also operated his own helicopter company
out of hometown Edsvalla. And more recently he was Flight
Operations Manager at Heliflyg AB, operating Eurocopter AS 365 Dauphin. Currently Ulf is a
helicopter flight simulator instructor on Bell/AB 212/412 for Oxford
Aviation Academy (formerly SAS Flight Academy) at Arlanda, outside Stockholm.
He is a type rating instructor and Swedish CAA examiner, TRI, SFI. Total
flight time on 15 helicopter types: 10, 500 hrs.
Ever since his first ride in a Seabee, the Seabee has been
his favorite airplane. For many years it was his biggest dream to
own one. When the commercial Seabee operator Fiskflyg AB decided to sell off their Seabees in
1999/2000, Ulf tried to get one of them - but without success. Also
he tried to acquire a SIAI Marchetti FN.333 Riviera amphibian, but this
proved to be even harder...
Then one day in 2005, Ulf got a strange telephone
call from Fiskflyg telling that "your Seabee is ready for
you"! It turned out that Fiskflyg had kept one of their
Seabees stored for a few years after selling the others in 2000.
Ulf travelled to Fiskflyg and settled the deal and in July 2005 SE-AXB
(s/n 268) was his! After overhaul and preparation at Fiskflyg, on 9 July
2005 Ulf flew his magnificent Seabee from Porjus to her new home base in
Lake "Bölösen", Värmeln, west of Edsvalla.
Tuesday August 5th, Steinar and Camilla, had the pleasure of seeing Ulf
and his nice wife Christina at their beautiful home in Edsvalla,
Värmland. The weather was terrible with rain pouring down.
After a nice meal, Ulf and Christina kindly took the visitors by car the
15 minute drive from Edsvalla to see SE-AXB at Bölösen. She
looks fantastic in her polished aluminum and bright red trim
colors! Engström's hangar is located at the most beautiful and
idyllic place imaginable! The hangar had previously been used by a
Cessna 180 seaplane, so the hangar had to be widened to give room for
the extra wing span of the Seabee. SE-AXB does not have wheels,
which saves approximately 90 kg from the empty weight. Ulf got a
dolly from Fiskflyg, which has been slightly modified for this location.
probably is the most 'historic' of all Seabees in Sweden. This was
the favorite airplane of Swedish aviator legend Stig Gunnar "Spökis"
Andersson, who flew bushplanes and helicopters in Jämtland, Northern
Sweden for many years, until he tragically died in a helicopter crash in
1974. When "Spökis" parted with SE-AXB in October 1963,
when sold to Fiskflyg, he wrote this farewell in the aircraft logbook
"Jämtlands Aero's 10-year faithful servant has been
handed over to Sten Lundqvist, Piteå for further service in the
Lappland mountains. Hard service the airplane has performed; 5579
days and nights + 1744 hrs 05 min, used 122.080 liters of fuel,
transported 106 elks, 54 ambulance flights, more than 20.000 km flown,
9.990 tourists and 137.735 kg of goods. With thanks and good luck!
Gunnar Andersson, flight chief".
Ulf and Christina are most dedicated to take good
care of this unique Seabee for the future. They fly 15 - 20 hours
each year. When asking Ulf what he thinks about flying the Seabee,
he admits that during his Seabee check out, he had good use of
his experience from helicopter autorotation training to impress the
After visiting the Engström's we spent two nights at
a camping in Mariefred, from where we took
train to Stocholm on Wednesday for sight-seeing Stockholm's beautiful "Gamla Stan"
(Old City) -
and finally there was some sun! On Thursday August 7th our tour went on
to Skå-Edby airfield west of Stockholm to see Seabee SE-ERT (s/n 846). The
weather was again rainy and when we arrived at the grass airfield, we met
a kind Tiger Moth owner who told us that SE-ERT was in a
locked hangar and could not be seen...
called SE-AXY (s/n 830)
Seabee owner Sten Karlsson, who told us that we were
welcome to see his Seabee at Barkarby Airport (ESKB) in Järfälla, west of
Stockholm. Unfortunately, he could not see us because he was out
of town that day. However, Sten advised us to visit his friend and
fellow Seabee owner in Vallentuna; Björn Ek. After using a terrible road
map, we finally found Barkarby Airport. The airport is also the
location for Swedish EAA Chapter 222 and there are several interesting
GA aircraft based at Barkarby. Unfortunately Barkarby is in danger of
being closed down, the final decision not known yet. Among the many nice
airplanes on the airport, one
was shinier and stood taller in the rain than the rest; Seabee SE-AXY!
SE-AXY is also one of the Fiskflyg Seabees that were
sold to private owners in 2000, taken over by Sten Karlsson in May
2001. She has the same polished aluminum silver look as SE-AXB and looks excellent!
SE-AXY does of course have wheels, installed by
Sten after he acquired the Seabee. Fiskflyg operated all their
Seabees without wheels to save weight. Both SE-AXB and SE-AXY have
all the goodies installed; Simuflight Lycoming GO-480 engine conversion,
extended wings (and flaps), droop wing tips, extended wide spray rails
etc. I believe, however, that SE-AXB has a carburated engine,
while SE-AXY has an injection engine IGO-480.
In addition to SE-AXY, Sten also purchased Seabee
rebuild project SE-AXF (s/n 592) from
Fiskflyg. SE-AXF is in the process of being
rebuilt at Västerås
Flygmuseum; Västerås Airport Hasslö (ESOW), and will be a long-term project.
taking several photos of rainy wet and shiny SE-AXY, our drive went on to the town
Vallentuna NE of Stockholm, to see Björn and Anita Ek, who own
Franklin-powered Seabee SE-IIO (s/n 120). Björn Ek is a farmer
and aviation enthusiast who in the early 1990s turned some of his
farming fields at "Lindönäs" Farm into a 1.000 m grass
airfield. His boyhood friend and neighbor Åke Jansson was a co-owner of the
Seabee, and Åke now operates a Douglas C-47B-35-DK (DC-3) Dakota
9Q-CUK and a Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub SE-KTG from
the same airfield! Three of aviation's biggest classics at the
same airfield! Åke practically lives on the airfield, while
Björn and Anita live on the other side of the road
"268" between towns Vallentuna and Upplands-Väsby. Åke
is running an aircraft maintenance shop in Vallentuna. He spent
28 years as a professional pilot in Africa, flying DC-3s etc. I am
sure he has many amazing stories to tell...
and Anita were dressing up for celebrating their 10th wedding
anniversary when we met them at home. Still, they kindly invited
us in and Anita, originally from Åland, even helped us book a place
on the ferry between Sweden and Åland, the destination of our
journey. We got a place on the ferry the same evening, so suddenly
we were a little short of time. Björn showed me the aircraft logs
for SE-IIO so that I could write down some more historical dates.
After that, Björn and Anita showed us a storage garage at the farm where
some of Björn's and Åke's aircraft stuff is stored. Even the
wings of Sten Karlsson's SE-AXF are stored here. Further, Björn
and Åke have the complete inventory of Fiskflyg's Franklin engines and
parts, from when Fiskflyg replaced the Franklin engines by Lycoming
GO-480 engines on their Seabees. From the roof a strange French airplane was hanging, and
further there was a helicopter stored.
it was time to see the Seabee! SE-IIO is not one of the
many Seabees imported by Ostermans Aero AB. Actually, s/n 120
spent many years in the USA as N87558 and N14R, before she was imported
to Sweden in 1981 by Leif Gustav Eriksson and Tommy Lundqvist. At
some stage a gear-down landing was made. Seabee expert Bo Larsson
and a group of owners/partners had done most of the restoration work when
Björn and Åke took over and completed the project in 2004. In
2006, Björn and Anita became the sole owners. She
looks magnificent in her silver paint and red trim colors! The
Seabee is also properly marked "Anita" on the R/H door and
"Björn" on the L/H door. SE-IIO
has an original Franklin engine, but also have mods such as extended
wings (without flap extension), droop tips and
extended spray rails. On the nose, a red Kevlar plate has been
installed to protect against bumps from docking etc. Björn and
Anita use the Seabee when they fly to their beautiful cottage on a remote
island in Åland. On our return to Norway on Monday we made a
short call at Lindönäs to see Björn and take a few more photos.
Björn even showed us around in Åke's DC-3. My wife of course
loved the violet interior, violet being her favorite color...
Thank you very much Camilla, Ulf & Christina,
Björn & Anita and Sten for making this year's vacation a wonderful
Steinar Saevdal 2008-08-19