Rathmines Catalina Festival 2008

Poor weather hampered some events but didn’t dampen the spirits at the Catalina Festival held at Rathmines on 4 October. More than 5000 people packed the site of the old flying boat base for the Festival’s second year.

The inclement weather in the afternoon forced most of the stalls etc to pack up and leave. Despite this, approximately $2,000 was raised for our Catalina. The weather also meant that only two of the eight seaplanes scheduled to fly in the event made it into the air – Phil Dulhunty’s Cessna 180 VH-BNJ and Pete Stuart-Smith’s SeaRey VH-PAZ.  

The presence of VH-PAZ marked the “official’ completion of Pete & Trish Stuart- Smith’s journey around Australia, reported in previous newsletters. The arrival of VH-PAZ at Rathmines the day before the festival (3 October) marked the anniversary of the completion of the final flight of Pete’s father (Flight Lieutenant Ian Stuart-Smith) as a Catalina captain during WW2. Following the cessation of hostilities, his final operation in a Catalina took him around Australia in PBY-5 No A24-84 between September 22 and October 3, 1945. The flight commenced at Rathmines and proceeded via– Cairns – Darwin – Morotai – Darwin- Geraldton – Perth – Adelaide – Rose Bay and back to Rathmines.

On tying up A24-84 at the mooring at Rathmines on the 3 October 1945 for the last time, F/Lt Smith had completed 54 operations in Catalinas with a grand total of 2000 hours and fifty minutes flying time. He was demobbed from the RAAF on the 12 October, 1945.

The latest on out Catalina.

You may recall (from previous newsletters, if not elsewhere) that the PBY6A Catalina that we have acquired and restored in Seia, Portugal suffered an engine failure during one of its test flights prior to the ferry flight to Australia in November last year.

Since then we have searched the world for two new engines (Pratt and Whitney 1830-92s, similar to those used in the DC3) and finally located two completely overhauled ones from a firm in Collinsville, Texas.  With extra money borrowed from sponsors we purchased these two engines and shipped them to Portugal. The members of our engineering crew under the command of Geoff Hazelton are now assembling themselves in Seia to start the process of removing the old engines and installing the new ones.  They are being assisted by members of the Dutch Catalina Association who operate their own PBY Catalina in Amsterdam. Geoff Hazelton has also been able to acquire a blister, one of the observation bubbles, which we will need to install and we are on the look out for a second one.  Jim Hazelton and the ferry crew consisting of himself, Geoff, Hal Griffiths and Richard Purdy will be test flying the aircraft and ferrying it to Australia before the winter weather sets in the northern hemisphere.

Because of problems and limitations with our Civil Aviation Safety Authority, we have taken the step of de-registering the aircraft from the Australian register and registering it with the FAA of USA.  This is less expensive and more expedient as the FAA has licensed engineers resident in many countries.  We have been able to reserve the Australian registration letters VH-CAT and it is our plan to re-register it in Australia once the aircraft arrives here.

Because of the rising price of Avgas (up to $4.00 per litre) in some places we are desperately in need of additional funds for the ferry flight which is now estimated to cost some $150,000. 

We are desperately looking for some corporate sponsor who might come to our aid.  For this we would offer special naming rights and privileges which would ensure maximum PR coverage for them.  The Catalina, when alighting and taking off from the water is quite spectacular and will attract the attention of press and TV photographers, guaranteeing maximum exposure nationally and internationally.  This would provide better promotion than any form of advertising.

Priceless print sold!

The limited edition print of P G Taylor’s Catalina Frigate Bird II taxiing in the open ocean around Easter Island, donated to the Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd by Nancy Bird-Walton, was sold (or rather given) in July to Mr Geoff Hurt in return for a donation of $1,200.

Mr Hurt is the son of 250623 Squadron Leader Lindley (Lin) Maxwell Hurt, DFC who for a time was 43 Squadron CO. Sadly, Lin passed away late last year aged 94 years.




Oct 21st 2008

Volume 2 Issue 8

Newsletter Spotlight

  • Rathmines Catalina Festival 2008
  • The latest on our Catalina
  • Priceless print sold!

The limited edition print of P G Taylor’s Catalina Frigate Bird II taxiing in the open ocean around Easter Island, donated to the Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd by Nancy Bird-Walton.

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Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd
ACN 103 492 440
Building 2, Ground Floor
35-41 Waterloo Rd
Macquarie Park NSW 2113