This 1947 Republic RC-3 Seabee Is an Adventure-Seeking ‘AircraftForSale’ Top Pick

Designed for a postwar aviation boom that fizzled, the Seabee experienced a short production life.

The Republic Seabee aimed to benefit from an expected aviation boom after World War II. [Courtesy: Kent Cook]

Each day, the team at Aircraft For Sale picks an airplane that catches our attention because it is unique, represents a good deal, or has other interesting qualities. You can read Aircraft For Sale: Today’s Top Pick at daily.

Republic’s Seabee developed from a design by Percival Hopkins Spencer called the Spencer Air Car. Spencer had pitched the aircraft to Republic, which was looking for a way to take advantage of a boom in general aviation that was expected to develop as military pilots returned home after World War II. During the war, military branches also found the Seabee concept attractive for its potential as a search and rescue platform. Military orders rolled in but were canceled when the war ended. The Seabee arrived on the market in late 1945.

The postwar boom fell short as well, resulting in a brief production run for the Seabee. Still, more than 1,000 rolled off the assembly line before it shut down in 1947, and the aircraft still turn up at airports. I spotted one last summer at Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (KBHB) in Maine. I imagine today’s owners use the rugged amphibians as Republic intended—as family airplanes that can go nearly anywhere. Several newer amphibian aircraft, both certified and experimental, have clearly taken cues from the Seabee.

This 1947 RC-3 Seabee has 1,470 hours on the airframe, 160 hours on its Lycoming IO-540 engine , and 160 hours on the propeller since overhaul. The panel includes a Garmin 530W GPS/Com, GTX 345 transponder with ADS-B, and Garmin audio panel. The aircraft recently underwent a restoration that included new paint and interior.

Pilots whose destinations are suited for water access, and those who simply want to fly a novel vintage design, should consider this 1947 Republic RC-3 Seabee, which is available for $224,000 on AircraftForSale.

You can arrange financing of the aircraft through FLYING Finance. For more information, email

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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