Colonial Aircraft Corp C-1 Skimmer
Following World War II, aircraft designer David Thurston, then of Grumman, formed the Colonial Aircraft Corporation as a side job, beginning work on a two/three-seat amphibian, the "Skimmer". Using some ideas from his previous association with the Gooyear GA-1 Duck and Grumman G-65 Tadpole, Thurston built an all-new amphibian design with a shallower hull and raised turtledeck. Construction on the prototype, called the C-1 Skimmer, began during 1957, powered by a 115 hp Lycoming O-235-C1 with an Aeromatic propeller.
The all metal hull was semi-monocoque and the fully cantilevered wings joined the fuselage in the high mid-position.
Directly from the G-65 was a tricycle undercarriage retracting system in which the main wheels folded into the wings and one-piece, streamlined stabilising floats. The nose wheel, when retracted, left half of the tire exposed to act as a bumper. Flight control configuration was conventional, with flight surfaces manually actuated, except it appears for hydraulically-actuated flaps; there was a fold-down sea rudder at the base of the air rudder. Access was through a hinge-up front windscreen panel on each side, with side-by-side seating up front and a baggage area behind, which could alternatively handle a second passenger sitting sideways.
The Skimmer C-1 was a small flying boat of all-metal construction, with mid-mounted wings featuring a noticeable dihedral and fixed fin-style floats. It had a tail with a mid-mounted tailplane, and tricycle landing gear - all gear assemblies with single wheels, the main gear pivoting from the wings in towards the fuselage the nose gear semi-retracting upward into the nose. Ground steering was by differential braking, the nosewheel being free-castoring.
The C-1 prototype, registered N6595K, made its first flight on 17 July 1948 and was further developed over the next six years. The Type Certificate was achieved in September 1955. By that time Thurston had quit Grumman and was working at Colonial full-time. Changes included the installation of a 95 kW / 125 hp Lycoming O-295-D engine.
Production totals of the C-1 Skimmer are given as 22 up to late 1957. It led to the improved "C-2 Skimmer IV" during 1957, which was externally all but identical to the C-1 Skimmer, the primary change being an uprated O-320-A1A engine providing 135 kW (180 HP), permitting a higher maximum takeoff weight, enlarged horizontal tail surfaces, modified wing floats, plus structural strengthening of the wings and pylon for the increased gross weight. It was said to have seats for four, with a cabin redesign. The Type Certificate came in December 1957 and twenty C-2s had been completed at the time Colonial sold its assets, after a series of difficulties and shufflings, to Lake Aircraft Corp in late 1959.
Lake Aircraft Corp marketed the aircraft initially as the Lake Skimmer, and developed the aircraft into the LA4. The initial Lake prototype, the "LA-4P", very similar to the C-2 Skimmer, performed its initial flight in November 1959; it was followed by two "LA-4A" prototypes in 1960, which featured a 1.22 meter (4 foot) wingspan stretch and structural reinforcement.
A total of 43 (all versions) were built.
Engine: Lycoming 0-320, 110 kW (150 HP)
Prop: two-bladed Hartzell constant-speed
Wingspan: 10.4 meters (34 ft)
Length: 7.16 m (23 ft 6 in)
Empty weight: 655 kg (1,450 lb)
Type: 2 place civil amphibian