The Stichting Neptune Association’s Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina, PH-PBY, flew for the first time in more than three years at Lelystad in The Netherlands, following a long period of maintenance in the organization’s new hangar at their enviable facility. The 50min flight, included five splash and go maneuvers on Ijsselmeer lake, and several touch and goes back at their home field at Lelystad.
During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions, and cargo transport. The PBY’s design was so successful that it became the most numerous aircraft of its kind and the last active PBYs were not retired from military service until the 1980s. Even today, over 70 years after the first PBY rolled off the assembly line, these aircraft continue to fly as water bombers (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.
The particular machine is the world’s oldest airworthy PBY, and it has an interesting history. The plane was was originally delivered to the US Navy in November 1941, on August 20, 1942, while based at Reykjavik, the crew of spotted U-boat U-464 which was on its maiden patrol. The U-boat’s gunners opened fire, but the Catalaina’s depth charges mortally damaged the U-boat and it sank shortly after the encounter. The Catalina also inflicted serious damage on another U-boat, U-528, on April 14, 1943. After returning to the USA in early 1944, the seaplane served with the US Coast Guard for two years before being transferred to civilian hands in 1946. It was acquired by the Dutch Group, Cat-Air in 1995, which used the plane for air shows, but the group failed financially and the Stichting Neptune Association purchased the plane in 1999 and restored the plane to its original specification, with a new certificate of airworthiness issued 5 years and 390,000 euros later in July of 2004.