Wanaka: New Zealand’s only airworthy Catalina Flying Boat is set to make a triumphant return from major refurbishment work at next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. ZK-PBY has been a favourite at Wanaka for a number of years, especially when she lands on the lake, but was missing in 2014 because of extensive work to repair the wings and fuselage of the 70-year-old aircraft.
Members of the New Zealand Catalina Preservation Society carried out the work in Brett Emeny’s hangar in New Plymouth to the tune of around NZ$250,000. Brett says it’s great to see an end to what has been a major undertaking. The plan is to have the Catalina airborne by later this year. “We’ve done all the structural work on the wings and fuselage and all that remains are some fabric repairs on these two sections. We’re also taking advantage of some fine weather to work on the tail which is poking out the hangar doors. Then there’s a fair bit of re-assembling work to do, and we’ll need to get it weighed and re-certified before we can take her out for a test flight.”
Brett says the plan is to have the Catalina make her first post-refurbishment air show appearance at Wanaka from March 25th to March 28th, 2016. It will be her first appearance at Wanaka since 2010. Warbirds Over Wanaka event manager, Mandy Deans, says everyone is excited about having ZK-PBY display next year and being available for the public to book rides. “We get regular calls from people asking if the Catalina is going to be at WOW and it’s great to be able to tell people now that yes, subject to final availability, she will be here,” said Deans. They expect that the Catalina will be available for public flights during the airshow as well as on the Rides Day (Monday, March 28th).
“Rides Day gives people the opportunity to enjoy the airshow and then stay on for another day to take a flight in the Catalina and other aircraft,” said Deans. Meanwhile, if you would like to help The New Zealand Catalina Preservation Society they are always very grateful for any donations. The Society is a registered Charitable entity allowing donations to be tax deductible. Donations can be made on their website www.nzcatalina.org.nz or by post to: The New Zealand Catalina Preservation Society, P. O. Box 72-527, Papakura, Auckland 2244.