29 October 2010

Catalina over Catalonia

The plane that captured my heart at this year's show - the Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina!

My fascination with "flying boats" or "amphibious aircraft" began at a young age, when my father would drive my family down to Laucala Bay in Suva, Fiji to watch the New Zealand Air Force Sunderlands take off and land.  These were the quietest moments for my parents, as my brother and I would sit spellbound, watching these huge craft either disengage out of a watery clasp, or climb ashore after landing, seawater streaming off every curve.

The PBY-5A Catalina is a wondrous beauty of classic aviation.  I would run onto my verandah in Auckland to watch the local Catalina fly by.  The engine noise is distinctive, and she's up there on my list of "must-view-at-every-opportunity" aircraft, along with the DC-3 and Harvard.

The plane on show at Festa al Cel is owned by The Catalina Society based at Duxford Airfield in the UK.  The full history of this aircraft records her beginnings with the Canadian Airforce, before various stints as a transporter and a firefighting water-bomber.

Retractable floats are lowered for water landings.  When retracted, the floats become the wingtips.

She was then converted to a passenger carrier for a sight-seeing venture in Zimbabwe but that fell through, and after some time in storage in Nanaimo, The Catalina Society purchased and flew her from British Columbia, in Canada, to the UK. She is now used in airshows and sightseeing flights.

More posts on the Barcelona Airshow can be viewed by clicking the Label "Festa al Cel" below.


Mike Meyer said...

Those are very nice shots. I have always liked the amphibious planes also. Mostly because they seem safer.

nzm said...

Thanks Mike, and thank you for visiting our blog.