One of the crowd favorites at the biennial Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow, held in even-numbered years in Wanaka, New Zealand, is hoped to return to the event in 2014. Last attending the 2010 show, the Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina ZK-PBY is promised to make a return for the 2014 event, dependant on the speed at which the amphibian’s owner, the New Zealand Catalina Preservation Society, can accomplish a significant bit of restoration work.
The society is embarking on a major project, refurbishing the wings on this 70 year old flyer, which made its last air show appearance at the Battle Of Britain Air Show in Ardmore, New Zealand in 2011. The plane which is painted in the colors and markings of Royal New Zealand Air Force, No.6 Squadron Catalina NZ4017 (XX-T). The plane was recently moved into a hangar in New Plymouth where the refurbishment work will be carried out, a move that necessitated the removal of the outer third of one of the wings just to get the aircraft into the hangar; so plane in place and wing removal process necessarily begun, society president, Lawrence Acket, says the goal is to have the aircraft back flying in time for Warbirds Over Wanaka 2014, which will be taking place on April 18-20, 2014. “While the goal is to have the Catalina at Wanaka it’s still too early to confirm anything, simply because of the variables which could come into play between now and then.” He went on to say that unlike a lot of other warbird aircraft that do the rounds at air shows, the Catalina has never undergone a full ground-up restoration, stating “This means essentially everything we’re dealing with is 70 years old.”
Acket indicated that the society is eager to hear from anyone who may have the expertise and the time to help out with the wing refurbishment project and that they’re keen to hear from anyone who may be able to help out with funding, whether by way of joining the society or simply by making a donation.
For further information on the society, their plane, membership or donation information, just pop over to their website.