Invitation to a special event at Rathmines

7 June 2008

In June to August this year Pete Stuart-Smith and his wife Trish will be circumnavigating Australia in their homebuilt SeaRey amphibian aircraft VH-PAZ. The trip, In the Steps of the Black Cat, will retrace the final flight of Flight Lieutenant Ian Stuart Smith (Pete’s father), a WWII Catalina captain, in a PBY-5 Catalina flying boat in 1945, and take in all of the Australian operational bases of the “Black Cats”.

The start of this journey will be marked by a special event at Rathmines on Saturday 7 June 2008 (the Queen’s Birthday Long weekend) to which you are all invited!

The program for this event (which appears below) will include a “bon voyage splash in” of an assortment of seaplanes and amphibians (such as the SeaRay) as well as the conclusion of the auction of the limited edition print of David Marshall’s painting of P G Taylor’s Catalina Frigate Bird II taxiing in the open ocean around Easter Island (details appear towards the end of this article).
Pete and Trish’s expedition, sponsored by the Australian Geographic Society, and supported by the Catalina Association (NSW), Lake Macquarie Historical Society and the Seaplane Pilots Association of Australia, will raise awareness and support for the “Catalina Flying Memorial” based in Rathmines.

The principal aims of the project are to:

  • take a flying adventure in their own homebuilt seaplane, following in the steps of the Catalinas, in particular, the final flight of Pete’s father in A24-84 in September/October 1945
  • see where Pete’s father served on Australian bases during WWII and to honour him and all those who served in the RAAF Catalina squadrons during the war
  • help some of the Catalina story be told and not forgotten
  • raise money and foster awareness and support for the newly acquired Catalina aircraft (VH-CAT) that forms the heart of the Catalina Flying Memorial to be based at Rathmines.

The Itinerary

Commencing at Rathmines on 7 June and terminating at Lake Boga on 2 August, the eight week trip will take in all of the Australian WWII operational bases and Catalina sites of significance.

The trip will be recorded by HD video with the aim of producing a documentary and perhaps a ‘coffee table’ book. Emphasis of the film will be on visiting the historic sites and interviewing local veterans wherever possible. Proceeds of the documentary and book will go to The Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd. The trip can be followed on the following websites: and


The Auction

Our patron Nancy Bird Walton has kindly donated this limited edition print of a painting by David Marshall of P G Taylor’s Catalina Frigate Bird II taxiing in the open ocean around Easter Island.


This print was gifted to Nancy by David Marshall because of their joint interests in this remarkable man, this remarkable aircraft and this remarkable feat. To obtain funds to ferry and operate our own Frigate Bird II, we are offering to sell by “Dutch” auction this priceless print.
Bidding started a few months ago, with many bids being placed on-line via The Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd’s website. The auction will finally conclude at Rathmines during In the Steps of the Black Cat event on 7 June (see program below for details).


In the Steps of the black Cat - the program for 7 June





Seaplanes arrive at Rathmines


The slipway


Pete Stuart-Smith talks about the trip

Don Lowe, Registrar of the Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Trust talks about the proposed hangar/Museum at Rathmines

Philip Dulhunty talks about The Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd


Rathmines Bowling Club


Auction of David Marshall print

Rathmines Bowling Club and the slipway


Seaplane Pilots Association competitions:-

Step Taxi – Time around course

Landing to mark      

Water bombing


Kilaben Bay


Lunch - Food Van organised by the Toronto Lions Club

Toronta Brass Band Westlakes Swing Band

British Vintage Motorcyle Club

Coastal Patrol


The slipway


Seaplanes depart accompanying Pete and Trish Stuart-Smith

The slipway






May 21st 2008

Volume 2 Issue 4

Newsletter Spotlight

Invitation to a Special Event at Rathmines - 7 June 2008

Auction - Limited edition Print

pete and trish

Pete and Trish Stuart-Smith with their homebuilt SeaRey amphibian


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