AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 97

P&E  OWNERSHIP

'We figure it out'
SEAL Aviation makes wet wings dry again
B Y D AV E H I R S C H M A N | P H OT O G R A P H Y B Y T H E A U T H O R

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THIS 1944 GRUMMAN WIDGEON is a serial fuel leaker, and multiple attempts to plug constant drips of avgas from the wings have been unsuccessful. In a last-ditch effort to avoid
removing and reskinning both wings, the owner hired a mobile team from SEAL Aviation in
Florida to repair them in place.

THE TERM " WET WINGS " takes on new meaning when unwelcome puddles of avgas show
up on the hangar floor, and telltale streaks of
blue dye mark the escaping fuel's pathways
across the wings.
Wet wings are ideal in theory.
The wings themselves are fuel tanks so
there's no wasted space, no extra weight,
and no need to add troublesome internal
tanks or bladders. Mooney Aircraft has
long been a believer in wet wings, and so
was Grumman, which used them on its
iconic flying boats in the 1940s and 1950s.
One of those flying boats, a twinengine Widgeon built 80 years ago, has
frustrated multiple owners with ongoing fuel leaks despite several attempted
repairs. One owner even slathered fuel
tank sealant on the outside of the wings
in a futile attempt to stop them.

The current owner recently hired
SEAL Aviation to fix the problem. The
Florida company has mobile teams of fuel
tank repair experts who travel the country
drying out weeping wings.
The process isn't quick or cheap.
Repairs typically take hundreds of
hours of labor, up to three weeks of calendar time, and $20,000 or more to
complete. But the alternative for the
Widgeon owner-removing the wings
from the airplane's center section and
reskinning them-would cost far more.
And the wings and center section on this
airplane appeared to be in excellent shape,
if only they'd hold fuel.
" This kind of work requires being
patient and thorough, " said Jerel Bristol,
a former U.S. Air Force F-16 crew chief
who founded the 40-employee company
aopa.org/pilot AOPA PILOT | 97

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to work right now to get you on your way as
a better trained, more proficient pilot.


http://www.aopa.org/financemytraining http://www.aopa.org/pilot

AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 9
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 11
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 16
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 18
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 20
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 22
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 24
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 26
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 28
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 30
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 31
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 34
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 35
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 36
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 37
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 40
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 42
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 43
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 46
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 55
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 60
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 61
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 63
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 65
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 71
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 73
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover4
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