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A video is blowing up on social media showing Jay Leno popping out of an aircraft’s nose. It’s a stunt that looks sort of fake but it’s the real deal thanks to the plane involved.
On Wednesday, comedian and avid car collector Jay Leno appeared on fellow car enthusiast Spike Feresten’s Spike’s Car Radio podcast. In it, the former Tonight Show host talked about the time he did a stunt in an aircraft just for giggles. Leno doesn’t say when it happened, but the video, shared to Feresten’s Instagram page, shows him seemingly popping up out of nowhere ahead of a gorgeous 1951 Grumman HU-16 Albatross flying boat’s windows.
At first, it looks like the stunt was done in a simulator. Leno explains that the stunt happened around Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California. He wanted to surprise his friends onboard the plane, who apparently didn’t know that the plane has a hatch in its nose.
Some news and tabloid reports are saying that the plane involved is a private jet, but it’s pretty far from that:
Photo: TP Aero
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The Grumman HU-16 Albatross, tail number N98TP, is owned by TP Aero, a Minnesota-based company dedicated to maintaining and restoring historic aircraft. N98TP is a rare breed, being an amphibian that can land on the ground with wheels, land on water with its hull or land on snow with skis. The flying boat is powered by a pair of Wright R-1820 radial engines.
It served in Korea and Vietnam performing search and rescue missions and got to fly around much of the world. Now it lives an easy life flying aviation enthusiasts around.
On the flying boat’s nose is a hatch directly ahead of the cockpit.
Photo: TP Aero
Leno says that he popped that hatch and pulled himself out while the aircraft was flying at about 147 mph. He also says that he wasn’t tethered, but there does appear to be some sort of rope that he had to move around for the stunt. Leno achieved his goal, as everyone on the flight deck had a hearty laugh.
Another video, posted by Instagram user captainbere, shows how easy it is to pop the hatch open on this Albatross and stick your head out.
So there doesn’t appear to be any movie magic going on here, just a neat feature on a really cool aircraft.