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You’re flying in the left-hand seat of a PBY Catalina, probably the best-loved flying boat ever built. This is a PBY-5A, an amphibian, so you can operate on land or water, but right now, the radial engines are bringing her in and you’re on short final for a landing on beautiful Lake Taupo, in New Zealand You slide over the marina at about 150 feet.
The lake stretches ahead. One hand on the control wheel, the other on the throttles hanging from the cockpit roof. Landing a flying boat is different: you don’t flare it on; you fly it on, at a very gentle rate of descent. The co-pilot is calling the numbers. “Eighty knots. Two hundred and fifty feet per minute.” That sounds, and feels, about right. A wing drops slightly. You have to move the control wheel a quarter-turn to bring it back. “Seventy-five knots. A hundred and fifty.” You concentrate on keeping the nose at just the right angle. Get it wrong and the Catalina could bury herself, caving in the nosewheel doors and flooding the hull. It’s a critical point on the PBY - 5A. But this landing is going well. You’ve got the speed and the rate of descent just right.
The waters of Lake Taupo stream past, very close. “Seventy-two knots. A hundred feet a minute.” You hear it before you feel it: a hissing sound as hull and water make contact. You close the throttles. She slows and settles, making the transition; aircraft to watercraft in a few short seconds…that’s the magic of a flying boat. Or, as one experienced PBY pilot puts it,
“A Catalina is a twelve-ton speedboat with wings.” Long-legged, rugged, and reliable, the PBY Catalina was used to pioneer many over-water air routes before and during World War Two, and achieved a distinguished record in both anti-submarine patrol and air-sea rescue work.
This DVD is used by the Catalina Club of New Zealand to train its pilots. If you like flying boats you’ll enjoy it too. If you like flying boats with radial engines, it’s pure bliss!
|Name||Classic Cockpits Flying the PBY Catalina|