Thursday, April 5, 2007

PBY Catalina

During the week there was an article in the 'West' about a recent acquisition at the Aviation Heritage Museum in Bull Creek. I went to the museum today to take a look at that wonderful aircraft, a Catalina PBY. PBY stands for Patrol Bomber and the 'Y' is Consolidated Aircraft's Manufacture Identification.

The plane was rescued from the side of a road in Texas, restored and shipped to W.A. in a number of containers by the U.S. Navy. Volunteers assembled it inside the museum hangar. It is kitted out as a wartime aircraft with machine guns front, sides and under the tail.

The Aviation Heritage Museum has a massive amount of stuff on display and much documentation about aircraft both military and civilian and the people who flew them.

I remember the Catalina fondly as I had a number of flights in them when I taught in the Gulf of Papua. In the early 60s there were no airstrips in most of coastal Papua and TAA operated two or three of them to outstations. I recall one trip to Port Moresby on the 'Cat' with around 20 passengers and their luggage. The 'Cat' made a ten minute run out to sea before bouncing off a wave and gradually climbing to height. They were very noisy as there was no sound insulation and the two huge radial engines were virtually only half a propellor's distance from the passengers. The co-pilot informed passengers of features below by passing a card message board back and once read it was passed to the next passenger. The same method was used on bare-bone DC3s.

This Photo is of the TAA 'Cat' in Kerema Bay awaiting passengers arriving by barge in 1963.

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