In the Netherlands several organizations and foundations with the objective: keeping in the air flying heritage. One is Operation Catalina Foundation, located on airport Lelystad Airport. The foundation owns PH PBY, a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina. The aircraft was this year 75 years and is the oldest still flying Catalina world.
The PH-PBY was built in 1941 with construction number 300 and "US Navy office number '2459. It was one of the first Catalina PBY-5's that if A was built, with the' A 'stands for' amphibean. This version was actually equipped with a retractable wheeled landing gear, unlike the PBY-5 flying boat without wheels.During World War II, the unit served in the US Navy. From an airbase in Iceland in 2459 has a lot of flight hours flown over the Atlantic, searching for German submarines. And with success, as has been able to sink the 2459 three submarines in two years. To our knowledge this is no other allied maritime patrol aircraft ever succeeded.
After the war, the Catalina eventually ended up in Canada, where it is used as a firefighting aircraft. In 1995, the Catalina was bought down by Cat-Air and to the Netherlands. Until the Cat Air bankruptcy Catalina flew in 1998 airshow circuit, now with the registration PH-PBY. After the bankruptcy of Cat-Air was the PH-PBY long time in all weathers at Schiphol East, until the Stichting Neptune Association took care of the Catalina. After purchasing the PH PBY was provisionally repaired and readied for a ferry flight.President Arjan Dros explains: "We first have to fill a lot of holes in the hull. There was as much as 3,000 liters of water into the hull of the Cat ". On the former Naval Air Station Valkenburg was the foundation shelter. In one of the hangars could begin the restoration work. The ultimate goal was to make the Catalina flight worthy, but that turned out to cost significantly more time than initially foreseen. The restoration took nearly five years to complete, the unit was not until August 2004 the first flight after six years. Since then, the PH-PBY flying with the Royal Navy registration number 16-218. The original 16-218 flew until 1957 at the Naval Aviation Service. The PH-PBY was named 'Karel Doorman', commemorating the Dutch admiral who died in 1942 at the Battle of the Java Sea.
"In 2005 we could start making sightseeing flights with donors. Especially for this are we have put fifteen aircraft seats in the Catalina cabin, "says Arjan Dros. Although in 2010 could take the PH PBY moved into a private hangar at Lelystad Airport, then followed several years of downturn. That between 2010 and 2013 due to tighter rules there should not be flown with donors, the foundation lacked a major source of income.
"We strive to create an annual 75 hours of donors flights, which is namely the break-even point. The minimum occupation of donors flight is 12 people. We have our fixed costs, which amount to about two tons annually. These are costs for maintenance, landing fees and so on. Therefore, cooperation with DDA Classic Airlines is also a nice way to bring fixed costs down. Since moving to the DDA to Lelystad we even offer a combination ticket for a flight with Catalina and the Dakota. "
Splash & go
Foundation President Dros: "Since 2013, we can make several scenic flights weekly with donors.Unfortunately, we can only do that between April 1 and October 1, due to the migration. With each round trip we make a 'splash-and-go ", a restart on the Markermeer or IJsselmeer. But after October 1, we can not make more water landings, so as not to disturb the bird migration. " From October to March will therefore always heavy maintenance inspection site. In addition, two weeks Catalina's mid-flight season in the hangar for a 50-hour inspection.