Grumman HU-16 Albatross airplane model. The versatile "Albatross" amphibian was designed to meet a Navy requirement for a utility aircraft which could operate from land or water and, with skis, from snow and ice. The prototype first flew on October 24, 1947 and soon after the USAF ordered a quantity for air-sea rescue duties as SA-16As. In 1962 the USAF designation was changed to HU-16.), Grumman delivered 297 "-A"s to the Air Force, most were assigned to the Air Rescue Service.