PBY maintenance specialists?

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PBY maintenance specialists?

Postby Rajay » Sun Feb 26, 2017 6:07 pm

David, given the recent spate of PBY series aircraft coming back on to the market for sale recently (as we have discussed both here and on WIX) along with the attendant discussion of “pre-buy” inspections, ferry flights, etc. I started wondering who are the best specialized PBY mechanics or shops in the world. Care to give anyone in particular a plug or an endorsement? Does anyone have a stand-out reputation for dealing with the type in terms of maintenance and repairs?

By the same token, I’d bet that there would be no argument that Taigh Ramey in Stockton, CA is the foremost authority on Beech 18 / C-45 / SNB (etc) series aircraft – and now maybe also in regard to Lockheed model 18 (PV-x / B-34) aircraft too since his awesome restoration of an ex-firebomber PV-2D Harpoon.

Similarly, the first name I associate with Grumman HU-16 series Albatross amphibians is Dennis Buehn of American Warbirds in Carson City, NV. I suppose he also has a comparable reputation for North American T-6 Texans too since he has been working on them and racing them at Reno for 30+ years.

So, I was just curious who you might name as the “go-to guy” in regard to PBY inspections or maintenance…

In the same vein, it seems to me that for many years, Chuck Ellsworth was the "go-to guy" for PBY flight training, but it seems to me now that every PBY restoration or even re-location / ferry project that I have heard of over the past few years has been some kind of "solo" effort by an individual owner or museum just trying to get their "new" plane back home. Am I wrong?
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Re: PBY maintenance specialists?

Postby Rajay » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:23 am

And while we're on the subject, do you know anything about a "couple" of PBY's at American Aero in New Smyrna Beach, FL - the guys who do the major maintenance on the Collings Foundation fleet of warbirds? Asked the same question above on WIX and one other member ventured that he had seen "the parts/pieces/airframe of two PBY's there in some phase of work."

Via Google Earth, I can see what appears to be the fuselage (no wings) of a black "PBY" with blisters in place and white stars and bars on the sides of the forward fuselage parked in the grass out in front of the American Aero hangar complex - right in between Collings' B-17 and B-24. As far as I know, Collings has not bought a PBY of their own yet, so it begs the questions - which one is it and to whom does it belong?

And mind you, at the same time the localized images of Miami (Kendall-Tamiami Airport) still show N287 intact (with main wing still attached) down there, so even if the localized close-up images were taken at different times, even months apart, I feel like it is unlikely that the one in New Smyrna is also N287.

UPDATE - just heard back from "Coastie" John Long on WIX and it sounds like he thinks that it is N287 that's out in front of American Aero now - he referred to it as the "Miami" Cat. Turns out that the "Imagery Date" for the "intact" black PBY in Miami was Jan. 23, 2016 (I visited it on Oct. 2, 2016) and then the date of the image of a black PBY at American Aero in New Smyrna Beach was Nov. 18, 2016 - so it very well could be the same aircraft.
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Re: PBY maintenance specialists?

Postby DavidLegg » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:29 pm

Hi Rajay - you addressed the first message to me so apologies for the delay but I have been on Malta for the past week, part holiday and part attendance at the European Airshow Council Convention, representing our UK Catalina operator, Plane Sailing Air Displays Ltd.

Regarding PBY specialists, I do not know of a specific firm that specialises in the 'Catalina' but there are a number of operators that have built-up expertise over long periods of time. I can hardly not mention our own Plane Sailing' engineer who has been with us for years but there are also the teams that support the Dutch PH-PBY, the Canadian Warplane Heritage's C-FPQK and the New Zealand Z-CAT. Another firm that has had wide experience with working on various Catalinas, preparing them for long distance ferry flights etc, is Edwards Brothers Aviation, now known as Airventure Ltd with just Mark Edwards at the helm.

On the specific Catalina that you mention, you are right in now knowing that it is the Cyclone Powered N287 that moved from Miami to American Aero' at New Smyrna, FL by road having stayed dismantled for some time at its previous base at Tamiami, FL. Its new owners are the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. Also at American Aero is the wing of the American Airpower Museum's, Farmingdale, New York-based PBY-6A N7057C which is being worked on there so maybe this firm is becoming a specialist PBY shop?
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