The Consolidated Catalina PBY-5A flying boat that might
return to next year's Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow after a
refurbishment. Photo supplied.
It is hoped former crowd favourite the Consolidated
Catalina PBY-5A flying boat will make a return to next year's
Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow, after a
wing-refurbishment of the 70-year-old aircraft.
One of only two in the southern hemisphere still flying, the
Catalina was recently moved into a hangar at New Plymouth,
where the refurbishment work will be carried out by the
Catalina Preservation Society.
Society president Lawrence Acket said the goal was always to
have the aircraft back flying in time for Warbirds Over
Wanaka 2014, on April 18, 19 and 20.
It last flew in Wanaka at the 2010 airshow. Its most recent
airshow appearance was at the Battle of Britain Airshow at
Ardmore in 2011.
''While the goal is to have the Catalina at Wanaka, it's
still too early to confirm anything, simply because of the
variables which could come into play between now and then,''
Mr Acket said.
Unlike a lot of other warbird aircraft, the Catalina had
never undergone a full ground-up restoration.
''This means, essentially, everything we're dealing with is
70 years old.''
Mr Acket said there was something special about having the
aircraft fly around Wanaka.
''For some reason, it feels like the Catalina is at home when
it's in Wanaka. Maybe it's the lake and the mountains.''
The society was keen to hear from anyone with the expertise
and time to help out with the wing-refurbishment project or
with funding, either by joining the society or making a
The New Zealand Catalina has a rich history operating around
the world, including in Canada, Africa and northern Europe.
It is the same aircraft that starred in a 1990 documentary
called The Last African Flying Boat, which tells the
story of Frenchman Pierre Jaunet and his crew as they retrace
the route flown by Britain's Imperial Airways in the 1930s
from Cairo to the Indian Ocean.
At the time, Imperial Airways used Catalinas for luxury air
travel around Africa.