Taking Flight: Ketchikan's Commercial Aviation History : A collaboration with Don 'Bucky' Dawson with support from Chuck and A.J. Slagle to celebrate a century of commercial aviation in Ketchikan
Hollenbeak Flying Service, 1958-1961

Local pilot Lester A. Hollenbeak purchased a 1947 Republic RC-3 Flying Boat (N6732K; Construction No. 1020) from Robert K. Dent in Everett, WA on 11/19/57, and registered it in his name to use in starting up Hollenbeak Flying Service based in Ketchikan. Hollenbeak had a humble floating hangar, which is believed to have been located at 1601 Tongass Avenue, per his November 1958 KPU Telephone Directory listing. There's not much information on Hollenbeak or his air charter operation other than he often catered to sportsmen for hunting and fishing excursions into the wilderness. A rare batch of original color slide photographs documenting a fall goat hunting trip to the Misty Fjords were taken by Leonard Hubbard or his wife Alice Hubbard in September 1959. Two of these photos are featured in this chapter, which show the airplane and Hollenbeak's waterfront hangar on Tongass Narrows, courtesy of their grandson Karl Nightingale/Top Hat Photos. A series of excellent black and white photos taken by Allan Grant were previously published in LIFE Magazine, showcasing the Seabee on a recreational lake trip in Washington with the prior owner/pilot's family during the Summer of 1956.

Hollenbeak Flying Service was short lived as the aircraft was sunk in August 1961 while Hollenbeak was executing a landing on Upper Silvis Lake and caught a wing float on the glassy surface of the water. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the accident, but it immediately put his one plane company out of business for good.

Aircraft Specifications:
Republic Aviation Corporation RC-3 Seabee (NC6732K; Construction NO. 1020). Built 6/6/47. Note: NC6732K is believed to have been originally manufactured as an amphibian. This underpowered seaplane's performance and payload was greatly improved whenever lightened up via flying boat conversion. First Flight: 12/1/45. Dimensions: Length: 37' 8"; Height: 9' 7"; Wingspan: 27' 11". Weights: Standard Empty Weight: 1,950 lbs.; Gross Weight: 3,000 lbs. Performance: Airspeed: 120 mph max; Range: 560 mi. Engine: 6 Cylinder 215 hp Franklin.

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Hollenbeak Flying Service Republic RC-3 Flying Boat in Ketchikan, AK, 1959Hollenbeak Flying Service Republic RC-3 Flying Boat in Ketchikan, AK, 1959
Republic RC-3 Flying Boat at Hollenbeak's Hangar in Ketchikan, AK, 1959Republic RC-3 Flying Boat at Hollenbeak's Hangar in Ketchikan, AK, 1959