Here is the latest news concerning surviving Catalinas around the world including a number of examples for sale at present with a range of price tags.
Catalina Society member Peter Marson visited the United States in mid-June last year and managed to track down two of the Catalinas currently residing in Oregon. The first was PBY-5A N2172N, originally US Navy BuNo 46522. This Cat’ is in airworthy condition and is registered to Avenger LLC of Beaverton, Oregon but displayed within the Erickson Aircraft Collection at Madras. It’s a nice example with bow turret and hull blisters. Apart from the horn-balance rudder and extra windows, it looks quite original although the colour scheme has been subject to a certain amount of artistic license. But, overall it’s a very nice example.
Second Catalina seen in Oregon on Peter’s travels was former RCAF Canso A N249SB at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum at McMinnville. It is painted to represent the US Navy PBY-5A, plane number 44-P-4 of Patrol Squadron VP-44. At the beginning of the 2000s, this aircraft was keeping our own Miss Pick Up company in open storage at Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, Canada. Eventually it was rescued for museum display but, unlike our aircraft, will probably never fly again. There again, who knows?
Talking of Vancouver Island, ex-RCAF Canso A C-FUAW Shady Lady is based at Victoria with Bob Dyck’s Pacific Flying Boats Ltd. It is fully airworthy and a beautiful looking aircraft. Oliver Evans, one of her captains, advises that a number of shows are lined up for the 2019 season including a fly-by over Victoria on May 17th, a display at former RCAF Canso base Tofino on the ‘Island on June 14th-16th, Whidbey Island, Washington State 22nd-23rd June, Boundary Bay south of Vancouver July 20th, Seafair Airshow, Seattle, WA August 2nd-3rd, Abbotsford International Air show, south of Vancouver August 9th-10th, a return to Whidbey Island on October 17th and local Remembrance Day commemorations at Victoria on November 11th. Further plans for C-FUAW involve some long-distance flying according to the website at http://theperfectadventure.ca/ although no dates are mentioned.
The Lake Superior Squadron of the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum, aka Commemorative Air Force (once the Confederate Air Force) has two PBY-6As – N324FA and N7179Y – in its collection. The LSS Adjutant, Colonel Jergen Fuhr, advises that back on July 9th last year the two aircraft were moved from Duluth International Airport’s Hangar 101, Duluth, Minnesota to new premises at the Richard I Bong Airport in Superior, Wisconsin. The move was prompted by the poor condition of Hangar 101. Due to N324FA’s corrosion and damage to N7179Y caused by high winds some years back, the two Catalinas are being merged into one airframe using the wings of the former and the hull of the latter. Eventually, N324FA which is currently de-registered, will be rebuilt to static display condition – it has recently had its red overall colour scheme replaced by black. Both Catalinas were built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation at its New Orleans plant and rolled down the production line very close to each other – N324FA was US Navy BuNo 64092 and N7179Y was ‘64097.
Closer to home, Pieter van Zyl visited the RAF Museum (RAFM) at Cosford a few weeks ago and photographed the one-time Royal Danish Air Force PBY-6A L-866 which was gifted to the RAFM by the Danes many years ago. It spent some years inside a hangar there but in more recent times has been moved outdoors and is at the mercy of the elements. At the time it was moved it was said that the relocation was temporary and it is to be hoped that the Cat’ will return inside very soon as the paintwork is already deteriorating and no doubt the fabric control services will suffer too.
Lawrence Acket, a member of the group that operates the airworthy Canso A ZK-PBY in New Zealand recently sent a brief report following a visit to the former-RNZAF base at Wigram, Christchurch at the beginning of March. The base is the home of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand and a long-standing project in its collection is the hull of one-time USAAF OA-10A Catalina last registered in Australia as VH-SBV. Rescued from the fire dump at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea many years ago, the museum took the project on from the Museum of Transport and Technology and slow but ongoing progress has been made in the years since although completion is a very long way off and may not be feasible. The hull is hemmed in amongst vehicles and other equipment but Lawrence was able to take a closer look at some nicely restored blister frames and a bow turret in nearby racking. Hopefully these will appear on the hull in the not too distant future.
The Rathmines Catalina Association continues to work on its project to restore PBY-5A Catalina construction number 1774 at Kilaben Bay. Originally with the US Navy as BuNo 48412 and last registered in the USA as N7238Z, the project came from Puerto Rico and great strides have been made to restore it to static display condition at Rathmines, a suburb of the City of Lake Macquarie in New South Wales and a former Royal Australian Air Force Catalina base. An update from the Association’s March 2019 newsletter reported on their volunteer’s work. Sheet metal work in the bow area has been all but completed and work continues on the both main undercarriage bays and the rear hull blister area prior to fixed blister frames being installed. Repairs to the starboard side of the engineer’s pylon have started as well as restoration work on the main landing gears. Work is also underway on the wing centre section whilst the leading and trailing edges have been removed and placed in store. The main structural spar framework has corrosion which will need repairing and the wingtip floats also need restoring. The outer wings, ailerons and an engine were moved from their storage location in the area to a new site thanks to the help of Centennial Coal and the tail section and second engine will move from RAAF Base Edinburgh in due course. We will have more news on Australian Catalinas in our next edition, courtesy of our shareholder/pilot Jeff Boyling including the re-discovery of the ‘lost’ Whale World PBY-5 A24-46.
Now, finally, to those Cats for sale. There are currently no less than six airworthy or potentially airworthy Catalina for sale around the world. Nearest to home is Canso A N9767 at Melun-Villaroche, south-east of Paris which has been available for some time. Next is Canso A N315KM at Tatoi near Athens, Greece. Your Editor was able to view this aircraft at the end of February thanks to its engineer and custodian Bernard Krieff. Un-flown since 2006, it is a lovely aircraft, recently converted to Type Certificate TC-785. Part of the Athenian Aviators Collection, it is for sale together with the rest of the collection although no price has been set and the owners are open to offers. Across the South Atlantic and in Santiago, Chile, the one-time USAAF OA-10A CC-CDT is also available. Like N315KM, it has not flown for some years but has been kept in very good condition with regular engine runs. A former waterbomber, the firefighting equipment is still in situ. According to Trade-a-Plane, the price is negotiable. Wright Cyclone-powered Super Cat’ N9505C has lain somewhat forlornly at Ephrata, Washington State for many years whilst various plans for it have fallen through. It will need a lot of work to get it flying again and this is reflected in the price, quoted by Courtesy Aircraft Sales as $200,000. It famously took part in the 1989 motion picture Always, its appearance in the opening sequences being particularly memorable. Previously reported in this column is Canso A N5PY with Ron Ruble in Aurora, Oregon. This was once the famous four-engined Bird Innovator Catalina Conversion and it is still partway through a lengthy conversion back to twin-engined and airworthy condition. Finally, at the other end of the price scale is the late Wilson ‘Connie’ Edwards’ PBY-6A N4NC. Located at his ranch base at Big Springs, Texas alongside his Canso A N222FT Flyin’ Turtle, it has recently been advertised (for ‘serious buyers only’) at $5m! It comes as a lot with four R-1830-94 engines and two 40 ft containers of PBY parts. It is quoted as the only PBY-6A flying with a Standard Airworthiness Certificate and has just 4,110 hours on the airframe. I’m assuming it is not priced for a quick sale!