Trans African Catalina Trip

The source for references and discussion on all types & marques of this iconic WWII USN PBY flying boat: photos, plans, manual pages & documents.

Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby seawings » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:40 pm

Hi David (Rajay),

You are so right, the Catalina is a fabulous craft and one of the top 6 of all time. (Probably, top 3 of all time in my opinion)

Still, in building the sections in this forum I can only provide what I think might be worth it and, more so, what the membership suggest! No bias here, just a shortage of time to get it all done! :)
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
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SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby Rajay » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:17 am

Rajay wrote: Bryan did manage to get so much else "done right" it's hard to believe that there was any kind of pro-Anglo/anti-American bias on this forum. After all, PBY Catalina and related types (PBV and PB2B Canso's for examples) were used almost as much by British and Commonwealth forces as they were by us "Yanks" ;)

I used the "wink" but if there had been an emoticon for "tongue-in-cheek" I would have used that one instead - or maybe too!
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby seawings » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:39 pm

Too right! ;) ;)
Best Regards,

Bryan Ribbans
Owner of:

The Flying Boat Forum
SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby MrWidgeon » Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:38 pm

Both tales have made wonderful reading and I'm eagerly waiting on the next installment David.
In water flying attitude is everything
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby DavidLegg » Tue May 07, 2013 8:04 pm

The next bit...

AN EAST AFRICAN ADVENTURE Part 3 by David Legg (copyright)…

The next morning sees another early start, something that we are having to get used to! Our first destination today is Mwanza in Tanzania where we are to refuel. The route to Mwanza takes us south-west from Kisumu, across Lake Victoria and back towards Rusinga Island then down the lake’s eastern shore avoiding Ugandan airspace. The lake is vast but the weather is a little dull so I take the opportunity to explore Z-CAT’s interior and its fixtures and fittings!

Starting at the aft end, the first section is the blister compartment. The tail area is enclosed by a door either side of which are fitted compartments enclosing a library of books on Africa and flying boats on one side and a small bar on the other. Behind the door (where on ‘my’ Catalina back in the UK we have an air-stair) are stowed various pieces of kit including a telescopic ladder used to get in and out of the aircraft through the port blister (always referred to by owners Pierre and Antoinette as the ‘bubble’) when on the ground. Only the port blister opens and it is a modified version of the original, opening from a hinge line at the top rather than rolling up flush with the upper fixed portion. On the inside of each blister is a long bench-style seat which enables comfortable viewing whilst airborne and under which further storage space is available.

Image

The blister compartment with library on the stbd. side and bar to port!

Between the blister compartment and the centre section is the first set of passenger areas with eight seats in four rows of two, facing each other on each side of the central walk-way. Windows on each side of the hull give good views out and tables can be clipped in place between the seats when eating.

Image

Looking forward from the blister compartment towards the aft passenger section

Following the central aisle forward leads passengers to the galley compartment which is located beneath the old flight engineers position in the pylon. Clever use of space gives room for a small fridge, sink and draining board plus storage for plates, cutlery, glasses etc. The pylon itself is now devoid of the original seat but the side windows still slide open allowing a good vantage point for photography if you stand – carefully! – on the fridge. On this trip, the pylon area is being used to store an outboard motor!

Image

The galley area in the centre section below the former engineer's pylon

Moving further forward, the next area is the second passenger compartment with room for another eight seats in a similar layout to those aft. Baggage is stowed under the seats in both sections and the under floor areas can also be used to store bags and equipment – no rigid suitcases here! On the port side of the hull is an upward hinged passenger door which has its own small clip-on ladder to make getting in and out easier when on land. Both this door and the port blister are used for access when on the water also, both being above the waterline. Immediately behind the cockpit on the starboard side is a small toilet with a folding door whilst on the port side is shelving for more baggage and pilot’s flight bags. There is room for passengers to stand either side and watch the pilots at work.

The flight deck is good old fashioned Catalina with original glazed roof panels and yoke-mounted control box. Obviously, radios are up-to-date and heavy reliance is placed on the laptop Magellan GPS to give pin-point positioning and warning of high terrain. Passengers are usually invited to take the starboard seat at some point on the trips and I took advantage of this for a time later on in the safari, once again proving why I am better at banking than piloting!

The bow is of the ‘clipper’ variety – these come in several different shapes and that on Z-CAT is pointed with a rubber bumper across the front. There is a hinged panel in the roof of the bow but the original anchor compartment door on the port side has been removed. When flying, a portable generator (used to power the fridge when on the ground or water) is usually kept in the bow compartment.

Image

Z-CAT moored showing the forward access hatch, rear passenger viewing window and the modified blisters

Having given the interior the ‘once-over’ our flight from Kisumu is nearing Mwanza in Tanzania.

To be continued…
David Legg
Editor: The Catalina News, The Catalina Society
Author: Consolidated PBY Catalina - The Peacetime Record
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby Kenny » Wed May 08, 2013 6:43 am

DavidLegg wrote:The next bit...
Image
The blister compartment with library on the stbd. side and bar to port!


I say, old chap, there's no port? I can see two Martini's. some Smirnoff and some Red Label, but no port...? :D

Perhaps the pair of you could get together to produce something...? You both have a good story and plenty of images to support it - I particularily like that last shot with the modified "bubble"...
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby DavidLegg » Wed May 08, 2013 5:40 pm

Kenny wrote:I say, old chap, there's no port? I can see two Martini's. some Smirnoff and some Red Label, but no port...? :D


Ha, ha! I'll return to the subject of the bar in a later instalment!
David Legg
Editor: The Catalina News, The Catalina Society
Author: Consolidated PBY Catalina - The Peacetime Record
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby DavidLegg » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:14 pm

AN EAST AFRICAN ADVENTURE Part 4 by David Legg (copyright)…

Having left Kisumu in Kenya earlier this morning, August 11th 1992 we are now approaching Mwanza Airport in Tanzania where we are to refuel. The approach to the airfield is over Speke Gulf, named after the explorer, and the single runway is very close to the edge of Lake Victoria. Arrival is briefly postponed as a go-around is required to avoid a light-twin that has failed to clear the runway after landing. Considering the relative inactivity at most Tanzanian airports, this traffic conflict is ironic to say the least! A safe landing is achieved second time around, just avoiding a massive pothole in the tarmac on the runway centre line – our pilots knew of its existence in advance! We taxi in and I have to say that the airport’s corrugated iron roofed ‘terminal’ is the most uninviting I have ever been to despite the words ‘Welcome to Mwanza Airport’ painted on top. Frankly I’ve seen better sheds. Local officials are not keen to have us wait around outside the building whilst refueling takes place and are certainly not happy for photos to be taken. The stop-over turns out to be long one!

Image

The welcome message atop the Mwanza Airport terminal building was rather more up-beat than the reality!

Refuelling in East Africa is an exercise that requires patience on the part of the passengers, resilience on the part of the crew holding the hose nozzle in place up on the Catalina’s high wing and stamina from the refuellers as all the bowsers we used were of the wobble pump variety and of limited capacity. The bowser trolleys seemed to be new and supplied by BP but, because of their size, it was common for the ground handlers to push them back to the fuel farm for topping up, again by wobble pump! Because of the scarcity of movements at Mwanza Airport, there was not too watch while we were there – some 5 ½ hours – but it was all part of the African flying experience. The reason for us being herded into the terminal later became evident when a Government passenger jet arrived. After that, things relaxed – not much but just a little.

Departing Mwanza, it was interesting to see a clutch of Tanzanian Air Force MiG-21 jets hidden amongst the rocks to one side of the runway – possibly airworthy but probably not much-used. On the climb out, after avoiding the aforementioned pothole, we compete with pelicans for airspace and set course for Zaire (now the DRC). The long wait at Mwanza has enabled Antoinette Jaunet to prepare a delicious cold lunch in the Catalina’s galley and we have our first airborne lunch, prefaced with generous gin and tonics naturally! The Fortnum and Mason salmon and very heavy Parma ham that I lugged all the way from England by yours truly at the request of the Safari Company’s British agents has come into its own at last!

The route we are now flying is due west to Bukavu in south-east Zaire at the southern end of Lake Kivu where it borders Rwanda. The original plan had been to land on the Rwandan side and we all had Rwandan visas, obtained in my case at great cost in Brussels. However, on the only previous occasion when Catalina Z-CAT had been to Lake Kivu, the local officials in Zaire have permission for the landing to be made on the lake within their jurisdiction. The necessary authority had now been given in advance so although we flew right across Rwanda, we did not actually land in its territory. After another lovely smooth landing on the water, this time by Dave Evans, we are met by over-zealous officials who seem to make up rules on a whim. They dislike our cameras but love the Catalina’s bar which they proceed to attack with vigour. The bar is soon emptied but this no doubt oils the wheels of bureaucracy! We are told that this is only the second time that a flying boat has landed on water in Zaire although I find that a bit unlikely – the second time on Lake Kivu maybe. We stay at Bukavu for two nights, the purpose of our visit being to track gorillas up in the Kahuzi-Beiga National Park (this is an African Primates Safari and not an aviation enthusiasts charter after all). Whilst at Bukavu, Z-CAT is moored to a buoy in an idyllic spot on Lake Kivu below a sheer cliff upon which our safari lodge is located. An abiding memory for me will be looking down on the Catalina as it weather-cocked on the dark water below, the quiet occasionally broken by the operation of the bilge pump and the local fishermen singing in the early morning as they guided their dugout canoes across the lake. All the while, I was being watched by impassive, silent and stony-faced locals just above me – what were they thinking?

Image

Z-CAT alights on Lake Kivu on the Zaire/Rwanda border
Photo by Dhar Color


Image

Z-CAT at its Lake Kivu buoy

Lake Kivu is high, and because it was also hot and the aircraft still heavy with Mwanza’s fuel, it was deemed advisable for the Catalina to take off from the lake without its passengers and land at Bukavu Airport. That said, the local Customs officials insisted on accompanying the crew, perhaps more attracted to the possibility of more alcohol than the thrill of a flying boat takeoff from water! This gave us the opportunity to go out onto the lake in power boats from our lodge and watch the takeoff run. Bryan McCook in the left hand seat powered up the Twin Wasps and headed off down the lake in the direction of Goma, retracting the floats early and then almost disappearing from our view before finally staggering into the air. The run was well in excess of two minutes duration so it was probably as well we had been left behind!

Upon arrival at Bukavu Airport, the pilots had taken the opportunity to uplift more fuel as it was known that none of the correct type would be available at our next stop – Kigoma in Tanzania. We were told that the fuel truck had left Dar-es-Salaam some days before but had not yet arrived at Kigoma. Our alternative plan to re-fuel at Bujumbura in Burundi was foiled when it was discovered that the army had requisitioned all the Avgas! The availability of Avgas at Bukavu was therefore most fortunate as the alternative would have been to back-track to Mwanza, something that all of us were keen to avoid!

To be continued
David Legg
Editor: The Catalina News, The Catalina Society
Author: Consolidated PBY Catalina - The Peacetime Record
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby Kenny » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:33 pm

DavidLegg wrote:... To be continued


[basso-profundo] Dare you miss the next instalment... Same time... Same channel... [/basso-profundo]

(keep it coming...) ;)
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Re: Trans African Catalina Trip

Postby harrysone » Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:04 am

Hi David, fantastic read. Those were certainly great times that you experienced in the aircraft's history. You may be pleased to know that we are working on a rescue effort to get 'JCV (Now ZK-PBY) airworthy again, since her grounding in 2011. Visit the news page on http://www.nzcatalina.org.nz/ and please all those who feel up to it, help us out with a small donation along the way.

While the repair/re skinning work required isn't particularly difficult, the sheer size of the individual components, the fact that wing sections have to be removed and jigs constructed to be worked on means that this is going to be a very expensive business.
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