The Sea Duck is one of the fastest and most famous aircraft around. In the course of her travels, the Sea Duck has flown through waterfalls and volcanoes, been riddled with bullets from Air Pirate attacks, lost both engines, been converted into a Thembrian condo, painted blue and sold as a fifty-cent lawn ornament, submerged underwater for an entire week, and completely rebuilt at least once. Always brought back by Baloo the same "mean, clean flying machine," the Sea Duck is unquestionably the greatest plane in the skies.
Being a cargo plane, the Sea Duck was designed to endure the rigors of frequent flying while carrying heavy loads of cargo. However, Baloo is notorious for overloading his plane and routinely subjects the Duck to stresses far beyond the original specifications. To make matters worse, more-than-frequent encounters with Air Pirates generate a constant need for repairs. Sometimes the Sea Duck can perform spectacular maneuvers impossible for a lesser plane; other times, the Duck threatens to give out at any moment. But Baloo has a strange knack for coaxing the last bit of energy out of his precious "baby," the result of which is Wildcat spending hours each day tending to the Duck and making her airworthy again.
The Sea Duck is currently the property of Rebecca Cunningham and serves as the main delivery plane for her cargo service, Higher for Hire. Although Baloo is still at the controls, the Duck is used more for cargo shipping than joyriding.
Exterior and Interior
The Sea Duck is a Conwing L-16. The central fuselage is bordered by two wing assemblies attached to the upper midsection of the hull. Two long tail booms protrude from behind the engines and support the twin tail assembly. A metal partition inside the aircraft divides the Sea Duck's interior into two portions, the cockpit and the cargo hold.
The cockpit area contains the primary instrument dashboard and flight controls. Two seats are bolted to the floor for the crew, consisting of a pilot and a co-pilot/navigator. The cockpit panels are a mixture of both standard and modified gauges and instruments. The flight controls themselves are the most modified part of the Sea Duck's cockpit. Originally two flight control wheels steered the craft, but Baloo had the co-pilot's yoke adjusted to retract under the dashboard when not needed. The throttle system is located in the middle of the dash between the two seats, with trim controls mounted on the ceiling. Because the Sea Duck does not have an autopilot system, Baloo keeps the plane on course by firmly wedging a crowbar into the flight stick, leaving him free to attend to other necessary matters.
The true heart of the Duck is the cargo hold, which is accessed by a door leading to the cockpit or by the two side doors at the aft of the plane. The hold is large enough to hold up to four tons of most transportable wares. To accommodate additional passengers, three seats are bolted to the floor of the hold near the windows. Cargo nets full of odds and ends of Baloo's are affixed to the ceiling of the hold; other random belongings are strapped to the walls. The rear half of the hold is partitioned by a curtain, beyond which lies a storage cabinet and a double bunk bed. A large door at the back of the hold is used for loading cargo into the Sea Duck. This door can be opened by a control panel on the nearby wall or by a duplicate switch in the cockpit. In case of mechanical failure with the door mechanism, a manual gear system on the wall can be used to open and close the hatch. On the ceiling just in front of the door is a spool of tow rope, used by Kit Cloudkicker when he wants to go "cloud-surfing."
With Wildcat's help, Baloo has customized and revamped the Sea Duck to his heart's content. In fact, the craft has undergone so many alterations over the years that it scarcely resembles a Conwing L-16.
- Superflight 100 engines: Perhaps the most extensively-modified part of the Sea Duck is the engine assembly. The original engines were replaced with two Superflight 100 engines, which are among the most powerful engines on the market. They give the Sea Duck airspeeds unheard of for a craft its size. Even at cruising throttle, the Duck can outrace many modern cargo planes.
- Dive flaps: To pull out of steep dives, Baloo uses special dive flaps on the leading edge of the Sea Duck's wings. Controlled by a cockpit lever, these panels open at a 90-degree angle directly into the airstream, allowing Baloo to execute amazingly tight maneuvers. This system is sometimes used to escape Air Pirates, whose CT-37 attack planes cannot pull up as sharply.
- Secret hatches: The Sea Duck contains many secret hatches. There is a hidden ceiling hatch on the forward hold installed directly over the cargo net. As for belly hatches, the Duck has two: one in the cargo hold, the other in the cockpit behind the seats. The latter is an emergency device, used primarily to jettison unwanted passengers. Another hatch in the nose of the plane leads under the flight panel into the cockpit, useful for making repairs to the controls.
- Overdrive: Built by Baloo and Wildcat, the overdrive was Incorporated into the main cylinder section of the engines. A button inside the cockpit activates a separate ignition system within the overdrive mechanism. Propellant accelerators increase the fuel flow to the engines, while air intake manifolds emerge from the top of the engine housing, taking in extra air to cool the rapidly-heating inner assembly. When the overdrive is activated, the plane's speed is tripled and all flight difficulties are increased by two levels. As a bonus, an aircraft in overdrive produces shock waves that disrupt the flight of trailing aircraft. Currently, the overdrive is no longer in use, having burned out when Baloo raced back to Cape Suzette to save Kit.
- Animating the flying sequences for the Sea Duck, along with the Pirate Fighters and several other planes seen in the show, was done with computer animation. However, certain sequences were also done with hand drawn animation. In comparison with the computer animation, the hand drawn animation sequences were heavily out of perspective, resulting a dozen errors that are seen in the show.
- The design of the Sea Duck is a combination of a Fairchild C-82 Packet transport and a Grumman HU-16 Albatross amphibian.