The Thurston Teal Story

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N1968T

N1968T
Thurston TSC-1A Teal Amphibian Prototype
Photo: Howard Levy courtesy of Gary Larson

 

It is not possible to discuss the history of the Thurston Teal amphibian without mentioning Dave Thurston's early amphibian design career with Grumman and his own company Colonial Aircraft Corporation.

In December 1946 a group of five engineering and shop friends from the Long Island-based aircraft manufacturers Grumman Aircraft Corporation and Republic Aviation Corporation, formed Colonial Aircraft Corporation to design and build a single-engine pusher amphibian flying boat in their spare time.

The two leading people of this group were David B. Thurston and Herbert P. Lindblad, former classmates at Guggenheim School of Aeronautics.  Dave Thurston became the president of the company.

The first Colonial amphibian design was given the model designation C-1 Skimmer.

The C-1 Skimmer prototype was originally powered by a Lycoming 0-235C-1 of 115 hp take off power, mounted on an engine pylon located on rear top of the cabin/fuselage, driving an Aeromatic pusher propeller.  The prototype C-1 Skimmer, registered N6595K, was first flown on 17 July 1948.

Several years of development followed.  There were many design changes between 1948 and 1955.  

When production started in 1955, the amphibian was powered by a Lycoming O-320-A2B 150 hp engine on an improved engine pylon.  Two side-by-side seats were installed in front, with a third optional seat mounted sideways in rear.  On 19 September 1955 the Model C-1 Skimmer was approved by the FAA, and issued Approved Type Certificate No: 1A13.

In January 1955 Thurston resigned from Grumman to pursue Colonial Aircraft Corporation on a full-time basis.   Colonial Aircraft Corporation moved from New York to Sanford, Maine, to start manufacture and marketing of the model C-1 Skimmer amphibian.  Colonial Aircraft would also undertake Department of Defense development and production contracts.

A total of 23  C-1 Skimmers were built, serial numbers: 1-14, 16-20, 22-25.  

During 1957 the C-1 Skimmer was improved and developed into Model C-2 Skimmer IV.  An 180 hp engine was installed, the cockpit was redesigned to accommodate four seats (giving the "IV" designation), the horizontal tail surfaces were redesigned for added area, the wing floats were modified, and structural improvements were made to the engine pylon and the wings for increased gross weight.  The C-2 Skimmer was approved on 24 December 1957, under ATC # 1A13.

Only 20 Model C-2 Skimmer IVs were built; serial numbers 115, 121 (later converted to LA-4P, the prototype LA-4, and retained its 121 serial number)  126-143.  

During 1958 total employment at Colonial reached more than 275 people.  In 1959 the Skimmer program was sold to Jack Strayer, a Colonial distributor and a former Grumman test pilot.  Strayer formed Lake Aircraft and developed the Skimmer into Lake model LA-4.

TO BE CONTINUED!
...Some day soon in 2013!


Thurston Biography

N6595K

N6595K
The Colonial C-1 Skimmer prototype in original configuration!
Photo: Howard Levy courtesy of Gary Larson

N1968T

N1968T
Thurston TSC-1A Teal Amphibian Prototype
Photo: Howard Levy courtesy of Gary Larson
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Updated: 2013-05-22

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2002-2013 Steinar Saevdal