Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Pure Nostalgia" - PBY Catalina Redux

The "Cat"

I've gushed about my love of the Consolidated PBY Catalina on here before.  As ungainly as she may look to some, I find her to have a classic beauty as striking as her history.  "Pure Nostalgia" refers to a line in a video I was sent via email which I wanted to share.  It's from AOPA, or the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association website which has a bunch of great photos, articles and videos which can keep you distracted from work, which it did for me for far too much of the day.  To give full credit, and keep any copyright attorneys off Sarge's back, Mike Fizer created the video which is wonderfully put together.

As you would expect, the video has some great shots of the Cat, both now and during her storied history, but also contains some excellent footage of the aircraft flying over my hometown of San Diego, including Mission Beach, the USS Midway Museum, and Naval Station San Diego.  It also has a pretty decent soundtrack.

Unfortunately, it's a Vimeo video which has some restrictions with Blogger scripting so you'll have to watch it here:  

The aircraft is owned by Jim Slattery.  For those of you not familiar with him, Jim is a very big-time Navy airplane collector out here at Gillespie Field in El Cajon- a suburb just east of SanDog.  His fleet of WWII aircraft, and a few others from different eras, is quite spectacular.

The aircraft was restored for The Greatest Generation Naval Museum in San Diego, CA.  "These guys were putting these aircraft into 10 foot seas, and getting out again...into combat conditions. Extraordinary group of young men."

  At Gillespie Field in El Cajon a PBY Catalina that was built in 1944 landed.  The plane is owned by James Slattery and was flown by  Chief Pilot Bob  Franicolaa and Mike Castillo.  The plane was flown back to the United States from South Africa after being mechanically restored. The plane is seen here making a pass over the runway at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
Sean M. Haffey / UT San Diego

Here's another site I found while researching Jim Slattery and his aircraft.  I had heard about Jim and his effort to restore the aircraft, but didn't realize that was done in South Africa. After which the bird had trekked across 3 continents to make it to San Diego.  The link above will take you to "Catalina.  Last Journey of Patrol Boat Yankee" which is a mini-TV series about the journey.

If the video isn't enough, read about Slattery's endeavor in the story from the Union Tribune newspaper here in San Diego.  The trip from South Africa is quite a tale:

"More than five years ago, two Americans purchased the Catalina with the hope of restoring it. They spent $1.3 million on the aircraft before a disagreement led to the dissolution of their project.  Slattery purchased the plane in 2010 — he declined to say for how much — and finished the job. Just getting the plane qualified to return to the United States was a substantial undertaking, because Slattery had to fly a Federal Aviation Administration official to South Africa for an inspection."

A PBY Catalina lands at Gillespie Field after a 12,000-mile, 16-leg trip from South Africa.
A PBY Catalina lands at Gillespie Field after a 12,000-mile, 16-leg trip from South Africa. — Sean M. Haffey, UT San Diego


  1. Excellent post, the Catalina is one of my favorites. Would love to own one.

    (And yes, Pungo has one. At least they did back in 2012.)

  2. Hope the caption on the last picture is incorrect and the PBY is not landing at Gillespie FIELD. He's forgotten something if so.

  3. Hah! Good catch Juvat. That is definitely the caption from the article, but apparently he did a few passes for the crowds/media before landing.

  4. Thanks for posting this, as these are one of my favorite aircraft.

  5. And I have to say, that enormous yellow wing - just wow! I watched that YouTube video three times, and it just got better and better. What a story!

    1. Did you see the vimeo vid? It's not embedded due to restrictions, but the link works.

  6. Quite the story, and a sweet bird! And the sea stories from the guys that flew them in WWII are AMAZING!!!

  7. I always loved the look of these planes. My pop worked a one when we lived in Ca. Just to help restore. I asked him several years later what ever happened to it and he said it crashed smuggling drugs. He had a gut feeling something was up and only worked on the plane a few times.


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