Hello fair readers,
I'm sending this email from a Grumman Albatros seaplane that has been equipped with Row 44's in-flight connectivity service. Row 44 in June acquired the 1952-built aircraft, originally used by the US Air Force, for use as a testbed of its high-speed service.
The company completely redid the avionics, and is in the process of modernizing the leather interior (although, from my roomy seat, the inside is pretty damn swanky for a 56-year old bird).
So why an Albatros testbed? Row 44 discovered that the curvature atop the fuselage is the same as the top of a Boeing 737.
The radome that contains the AeroSat-made antenna and the ring fit snugly on top of the aircraft. Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines are each planning to trial the system on 737s. Alaska's trial will occur in a few weeks. Nice!
That's the email I sent to myself today while the seaplane floated happily on the waters off of Long Beach before our flight. California-based Row 44 has been successfully demonstrating it's Ku band-based in-flight connectivity service over Canadian skies but is awaiting forthcoming US approvals to do its flight testing closer to home.
Seasoned pilot Dave Cummings installed the new avionics (Dynon and Garmin) in 21 days and managed to get the aircraft certified within two months. Is that a record?
In any case, the flight was quite memorable, not least of all because we flew over a whale while it was using its blow hole. He nearly stole the show, but not quite.