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Lake Boga graced by a Catalina again

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:35 am
by antipodeanandy
The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society have been steadily transforming their Catalina into an RAAF Black Cat. The blisters were added several years ago and last year she had a restored nose turret fitted.

On March 7, in this 90th anniversary year of the RAAF, as the aircraft returned from the Avalon International Airshow, she stopped at Swan Hill, offloaded some passengers and non-essential equipment, and completed several touch-and-goes on the lake that was once home to No.1 Flying Boat Repair Depot. The following day, she did the same and then completed a full stop on the lake's surface. Comments from HARS, despite noting some minor leaks, was that they found the aircraft difficult to keep into the wind but this was improved by lowering the gear. The first job once the Cat was back at base in Wollongong (an hour south of Sydney) was, naturally, to remove the wheels to clean and repack the bearings.

Some great pics here - ... t=0&page=1 ... 97304.aspx

DOZENS of people turned out this week to see the first Catalina touch down on Lake Boga since 1948.

One of the few Catalinas still in the air, the Wollongong-based flying boat stopped at Swan Hill aerodrome on the way home from the Avalon airshow on Monday.

It then completed several touch-and-go exercises on the lake on Monday afternoon and a longer landing and take-off from the lake yesterday morning in front of a fascinated crowd.

Speaking to The Guardian, pilot Gordon Glynn said it was a special moment for the town to see a Catalina on the lake after 63 years.

"It is definitely special; it's a significant airplane to this region because Lake Boga was the service base for the flying boats here in the second world war," he said.

Mr Glynn said the aircraft -- a Catalina PBY 6A model -- was built in 1945 in San Diego.

He and several other members of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society recovered it from Portugal in 2002, where it had been left on the ground for about seven years.

"We spent about six weeks there with a team of guys and eventually flew it home," he said.

"It was a long flight, (it) took 89 hours -- two and a half weeks -- to get home.

"I was very happy to get home; I forgot what home looked like for a while," he laughed.

The society is now working to restore the aircraft to its original shape.

Mr Glynn said while flying the plane was not that different to flying a modern aircraft, there were some exceptions – such as the speed.

With a low cruising speed of 100 knots (185kmh) it would take the crew about four hours to get home to Wollongong from Swan Hill, Mr Glynn said.

"It does not go anywhere quickly," he said.

"But it gives us plenty of time for some old blokes like us to get our head around it."

The exercises on Lake Boga were mainly done to familiarise the crew with the practise of water landings, Mr Glynn said.

And while he said the Catalina came to the Swan Hill area about every six months to renew the association with local flying organisations and to show people what the aircraft was used for, it had never landed on the lake.

Speaking to The Guardian early on Monday morning, he said he expected the lake landings to be nostalgic for many.

And he was right. On Monday afternoon the jetty and edge of the lake were crammed with locals excited to see the historic moment.

Melbourne resident Beryl Plumridge said she had come up specially for the event.

Ms Plumridge said her husband had grown up in Lake Boga and until some years ago, the family owned a holiday home in the town, so the area held special significance for them.

She said she had heard about the event from friends and knew she could not miss the moment.

"This is what my husband grew up with, it's just all the memories that it holds," she said.

Another viewer, Murrabit resident Bill Laursen said he was excited to get a chance to see the aircraft land on the lake.

"I have been living here all through my life right through the war and I have never seen a Catalina on the water, that's why I am here," he said.

One of the most excited viewers was local Catalina enthusiast Dick Peel, who had not seen a Catalina land on the lake since he was "a little laddie".

"After 63 years, there are still a lot of people who remember the planes," he said.

"It's a bit of nostalgia alright."

Apparently they'll be doing the same during the week of the 28th when participating in the RAAF's 90th anniversary air pilgrimage.

Re: Lake Boga graced by a Catalina again

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:19 pm
by antipodeanandy
Some pics of the Cat getting nice and wet.