Dr. Hankwitz' Seabee

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The Hankwitz' Seabee; N6256K (s/n 463) 1949

Doc. Hankwitz's Seabee NC6256K (s/n 463)
Photo: courtesy Carl Hankwitz

In 1947 Dr. Arthur Walter Hankwitz and his wife, Ione, bought a factory fresh Republic Seabee, NC6256K (s/n 463), for $ 6,300...

Art and Ione Hanzkwitz enjoying a boat ride!Dr. Art Hankwitz was a well known third generation physician and surgeon in the Milwaukee area, Wisconsin.  Ione was a medical secretary and became mother to six children...

Both, Arthur and Ione, were private pilots with sea ratings.  The Doctor used the Seabee extensively for making medical house calls to the numerous lakes in Wisconsin area.  The Seabee was also used as a 'family transport'.  Two of their sons, Carl and Fred, still remember their father flying them to summer camp in the Seabee and landing on the lake to drop them off.

At this time Art and Ione were members of The Milwaukee Movie Makers.  This was a social club that brought together the talents of photographers, both amateur and professional, in the greater Milwaukee area.  In 1949 the Hankwitz' Seabee was featured in the 23 minute movie titled "Blue Horizons", shot by then amateur movie maker Walter F. Chappelle Jr.  The fabulous movie was filmed in color and showed the Seabee in aerial flying shots over Milwaukee landmarks and in numerous water landing shots on Lake Okauchee. 

Mr. Chappelle also wrote a screen play for the movie. The then four Hankwitz Kids, played four kids that sneaked into the Seabee as 'blind passengers', but were caught and had to stay on ground and wait while their parents and the young and beautiful Mrs. Chappelle were out flying, and taking a fun speed boat ride on Lake Okauchee... The movie was an entry in the Milwaukee Movie Makers' annual amateur movie making contest in 1950 and it took first place as 'Best Movie of The Year'!

The film also features a breathtaking Seabee water take off scene where the Seabee takes off just behind one of the speed boats....as shown in the stills below;

Take off!

Take off!

Photographer Chappelle later worked for Kodak in Rochester, NY, and had many of his photos published in National Geographic Magazine.

Carl remembers - "In the year or two after we made the movie, dad would show the movie at different social functions and so on, and we had to drag around two big turntables to be able to play the different background music.  We had to have two turntables so that there would be no dead space from one musical score or song to the next.  In time we would have very carefully timed the beginning of one song to a certain sequence or time in the movie so that everything matched just right, and things happened at the right time during the music."

By 1952 The Hankwitz Family had grown in number to the point that the Doctor no longer could take the whole family flying... Art therefore sold the Seabee and purchased a boat instead.  Even a Seabee can be too small for a family of eight...

Carl Hankwitz continues - "Both my brother Fred and I continued the tradition and made our careers flying aircraft for United Airlines.  I also flew for the United States Coast Guard for five years flying the Grumman HU-16E Albatross prior to my being hired by United Airlines".

Carl retired as a Captain on Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets.  Carl and his wife Elise have moved from from Kailua, Hawaii to Arizona. You can contact Capt. Carl and Elise Hankwitz at address; 14515 Sunset Gallery Drive, Marana, AZ 85653, USA. Tel: (520) 399-5575, E-mail: chankwitz@mac.com

Now you can see the "Blue Horizons" movie on the web site of Carl and Elise "Liz" Hankwitz!  Please visit:


Thank you very much, Carl, for submitting this wonderful Seabee story and the very unique photos !!!


N6256K (s/n 463) Photo: courtesy Carl Hankwitz

The Hankwitz Seabee - N6256K (s/n 463) is still on US Register.  Sadly, N6256K was landed gear down on water on 04 June 2004, when the pilot accidently lowered the wheels instead of flaps during landing on water.  Fortunately the pilot escaped with only minor injuries.  The Seabee was quickly salvaged, and in September 2004 she was sold by Mr. Vern E. Ziegler, Spokane, WA, to Mr. Byron Miller of Silverton, Oregon.  Mr. Miller will rebuild N6256K and have her flying by spring next year.  Thank you Byron, for sending photos and information!

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Updated: 2010-04-02

2004-2010 Steinar Saevdal