This photograph, from my family's collection, of a high-winged, dual rotary engine, amphibious airplane, probably in the 1930's, appears to be an excursion plane at a fair since it has "FLY FAIR" written on the wing. It appears to have the ID number of NC-155, or NC-156, or NC-158. It is difficult to recognize the last number. I have searched and searched and not only cannot find other photos of this particular plane, but I can't find any photos of an identical plane. I'm looking for Make, Model, and any additional information you may have. Your help is greatly appreciated.enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Those are radial engines, not rotary. If rotary, the cylinders would be blurred as much as the propellers are. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ You are absolutely correct. Either my typo or spell check. I'm embarrassed I didn't catch that. Thank you. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 14:00

2 Answers 2


That is a Sikorsky S-38B

I am not sure about the registration. My guess is NC196H, but it is one out of this list:

  • NC158H,
  • NC159H,
  • NC195H,
  • NC196H,
  • NC197H,
  • NC198H,
  • NC199H,

See aircrafthistory.org.uk

The FLY FAIR marking may be a reference to the 1933/1934 Chicago World Fair / "A Century of Progress International Exposition". Jamiec found this photo album by George Buivid on auction that documents a trip to the Chicago World Fair in Sikorsky's own S-38 aircraft:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Picture source: Flyingclippers.com Artist: Mike Machat

enter image description here

source: Wikipedia original source: NACA Aircraft Circular No.79

  • $\begingroup$ You sure? The tail looks wrong to me (But the stubby biplane wings looks right). $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Jamiec, quite sure. The tail looks right to me. Can you explain in what way it looks wrong to you? $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ I wasn't sure I could see the double horizontal stabilizer, but perhaps just masked by the engines $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Found this: s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/antiquarianauctions/original/… Might be a good addition/evidence from antiquarianauctions.com/lots/… $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your detailed answer. And I believe you also have the location, the 1933/1934 Chicago World Fair. My family lived in the Chicago/Milwaukee/Madison area and I know they attended the Chicago World Fair from other photos we have. Now I can make the connection. I appreciate this very much. Combining your answer with the next detailed answer (below) and it appears to be the NC-158H. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 14:20

The aircraft is clearly a Sikorsy S-38. Looking at the aircraft's left wing, underside, far outboard, in the photo in the original question-- the first two digits in the registration number after the hyphen clearly appear to be "15" not "19". With a little less clarity, the third digit appears to be "8" or "B", not "9" or "6" or "5", and the last digit appears to be "H". So there you have it-- NC-158H or NC-15BH. The former coincides with one possibility out of a list 7 offered by this related answer to the same question, while the latter appears not to conform to the numbering system used in registration numbers beginning with "NC".

To see the image more clearly, a useful trick is to try tilting the computer screen up or down, or to raise or lower your head to change your line of vision to the screen-- this has a similar effect to adjusting the contrast of the photo.

Looking closely, we can also discern that the full text on the underside of the aircraft's right wing is "FLY AT THE FAIR", with the words "at" and "the" being in small print and stacked vertically one over the other.

One last note-- if we look carefully at how the bottom of the letter "F" in "FAIR" is mostly lost to view due to the curvature of the underside of the wing near the wingtip, this helps us see how the last character in the registration number is consistent with the letter "H".

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for taking the time to decipher the NC number of this aircraft as well as your suggestions on how I can better determine numbers in the future. Combining your answer with the research in the previous comment it appears to be NC-158H. Thank you very much for your help. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 14:23

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