Mallard N168WS, like other Mallards, is referred to by its serial number, J-5, to avoid confusion due to changing registration numbers over the years. As the fifth Mallard built, J-5 was delivered by Grumman in November, 1946 to The Globe and Mail in Toronto, Canada. Quoting an excerpt from Grumman Mallard: The Enduring Classic by F. W. Hotson & M. E. Rodina:
“The Grumman Mallard J-5 (CF-EIZ) was sold to Toronto's morning newspaper, The Globe and Mail. Publisher George McCullagh, an ex-mining tycoon, was a friend of J.P. Bickell and an aviation enthusiast. In 1937, when he and William Wright bought Toronto's two morning newspapers (to create what became The Globe and Mail) he ordered a de Havilland Rapide and named it the Flying Newsroom. When it burned at the Toronto dock after its first trip, McCullagh had to wait until after the war to get back in the air. His Mallard CF-EIZ was crewed by pilot Bill Poag and Andrew Gabura as flight engineer.
SERIAL No. J-5
Their most publicized trip was a scientific flight to the Chubb Crater, a lake close to Ungava Bay. When George McCullagh died suddenly in 1952, J-5 was sold to Irving Oil Transport of Saint John, New Brunswick.”
Following ten years of providing executive transportation to Irving Oil, J-5 changed hands in 1963, and went overseas to Club de Pesca in Panama. J-5 returned to the U.S. in 1966 and by 1967 was in the hands of a corporate owner in Wisconsin. The aircraft moved to a private owner in Pennsylvania in 1971, where it resided until its sale to a Bahamian company in 1978. In 1987 J-5 returned to the U.S., based this time in Florida. Following an unsuccessful attempt to fly the aircraft to Thailand to join another Mallard, the aircraft was sold to a private party in Florida in 1994, from whom Pantechnicon Aviation, the current owner, purchased J-5 in November, 1996.
From 1997 to 1999, J-5 was utilized for several trips to the Caribbean as well as flights up and down the West Coast of the U.S. The aircraft was then delivered to Victoria Air Maintenance of British Columbia for complete restoration spanning four years. All fittings were overhauled or replaced, including sheet metal as necessary. The interior was restored to factory-new condition with classic woolens and matched-grain teak paneling along with modern soundproofing materials behind the headliner. The exterior paint scheme mirrors the 1946 Mallard original with colors suggestive of an art-deco period.
A truly spectacular aircraft, J-5 is featured on the cover of Fred Hotson and Matt Rodina’s definitive book, Grumman Mallard: The Enduring Classic.