Dutch Foundation: 'Friends of the Catalina' based at Lelystad airport (Holland), operates a WW-2 vintage (1941) Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina. Having been grounded for some years, she is back in the air!
Catalina PH-PBY (c/n 300 - Buno: 2459) the oldest PBY flying, painted in a silver glossy Dutch Naval scheme, coded 16-218, was originally brought to Holland by a private group of investors back in May 1995. She was purchased from Avalon Aviation Inc, a Canadian company which specialized in water bombing. When she arrived in Holland, she was painted in a crude wartime colour scheme, which included the tail code Y-74 and Canadian registration C-FHHR. At that time she operated under the name 'Stichting Catair'. Catair folded some years later and the PBY was rescued by the Dutch Neptune Association who ferried it to NAS Valkenburg. In order to keep her safe and preserve her for the future, as a living historic monument, a separate foundation was created to restore the Catalina to its current immaculate condition.
After being grounded for almost 4 years the Dutch Catalina Foundation was granted a CofA on April 03, 2013. Engine runs and crew training commenced soon after prior to the start of the 2013 flying season.
Initially PH-PBY was parked at different location at Lelystad airport (2008), when this hanger was sold off and the Catalina Foundation was left without a base. She spend that summer parked in the open and was ferried to Weeze airport (former RAF Laarbruch base) in Germany for the winter. During that time an 'annual inspection' was carried out. The following spring (2009) crew training got underway, but had to be cut-short due to a heavy oil leak on one of the Pratt & Whitney R1830 radial engines. A spare engine, which was still in storage in Canada, was flown over and remounted on the PBY. During that period the Dutch CAA revoked the Foundation licence on the grounds that its technical department should sign up with a certified civil aviation maintenance company. During February 2010 an agreement was signed with Mastenbroek Aeroskill, but it took over 14 months to start the joint maintenance program. Simultaneously an additional project began; finding a new home for the PBY. The construction activities of the new hanger at Lelystad started on March 15, 2010 and the official opening took place on October 12 that same year. The new hanger is shared with the DDA Classic Airlines who owns & operates two DC-3s.
The 'Cat' was ferried from Weeze airport and a heavy inspection program got underway the following year. This lasted 14 months and initially the CofA was granted in October 2012. Then the Dutch CAA requested an additional requirement in the shape of an AMP (aircraft maintenance plan). With the help of Dutch Aviation Company AMN (Aircraft Maintenance Netherlands, based at Teuge) this plan was realized early March 2013.
With the start of the 2013 flying season, three new pilots have joined the Foundation. With the PBY in tip-top shape it is hoped that it can attract new memberships and sponsors, to keep it flying for many years to come. Several flight options are possible: personal flights (sightseeing – day trips – lunch flights), business/corporate events and a 30 minute Splash & Go adventure. Typically the Splash & Go flights will take off from Lelystad airport and fly over the Dutch inlet lake called the 'Ijsselmeer' where a water touch and go* will be performed. (*weather permitted)
Normally these exhilarating touch and go's on the water are difficult to photograph, but during the end of May (2013) it was possible to capture the PBY in its natural element. The small Dutch harbour city of Hoorn, situated on the West coast of the 'Ijsselmeer' hosted a special flying event which included the PBY Catalina and several historic naval boats. The Hoorn Waterfront Foundation invited the historic PBY for several sight seeing flights from its natural sea harbour. Two restored naval LCA Mark II landing crafts where used to carry the passengers from the small docks to the Catalina. Several smaller motorized rubber boats (RIB's) where used to shuttle the passengers to and from the floating flying-boat. On the morning of Sunday May 26 the weather started grey and windy, but luckily around noon time the cold winds blowing across the water where within the PBY operating limits.
I have to thank the LCA crew on taking onboard myself and three aviation friends and for using the top deck for photography. Despite the harsh condition and water spray we had a fantastic time taking these pictures.
I like to thank Annelies Bart – Hoorn Water Front Event and the Guys of the LCA Mark II 'Keep Them Landing' and the Foundation "Friends of the Catalina"