Tintin and Captain Haddock are stranded on a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean. Suddenly, they’re spotted by an enemy seaplane and they’re dodging torrential gunfire. All it takes is one bullet from the steady gun of Tintin to turn the tables, however, and within moments the enemy seaplane becomes Tintin’s means of escape. A quick glance at the operating manual and our hero is airborne and headed for another adventure!
But did you catch it? If you happened to blink during this scene from Warner Brothers’s latest adaptation of the Adventures of Tintin, you may have missed it. The weaponized seaplane that becomes Tintin’s salvation is a Bellanca, and if this wasn’t immediately obvious to those of us less adept at identifying 1930s-era aircraft, the “Bellanca” cover on the operating manual is meant to tell us in more obvious terms. Delaware turns up in the most unexpected places sometimes!
The Bellanca Aircraft Company was founded in 1927 by Giuseppe Mario Bellanca, who immigrated to America from Italy in 1911. A mathematician and engineer, Bellanca developed a passion for flying that led him to operate a flying school in the early part of his career before going on to design airplanes for a number of firms from 1917-1926. His design of the WB-2 aircraft ultimately caught the attention of the du Ponts, who wanted to start manufacturing aircraft in Delaware. In 1927, a deal was made to set up a factory for the Bellanca Aircraft Company just outside of Wilmington in New Castle along the Delaware River. The plant produced approximately 3000 planes before closing in 1954.
Here’s an image of a Bellanca seaplane flying over the Delaware River in the 1930s. Who knew it would be brought to life more than eighty years later in the big screen adventures of a comic book hero?
Visit our research library to see photographs and learn more about the Bellanca Aircraft Company.