Flying the PBY-5A Catalina

Posted by on Aug 6, 2015 in Blog | Leave a comment

The day after the Texel airshow, I had to drive past Lelystad airport again on my way home, with a stopover at said airport. Earlier that week, I booked another flight, this time with a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina from 1941!

The foundation does scenic flights with this beautiful aircraft, and if the weather is good enough, they go out to the Ijsselmeer to do splash & go’s. A splash and go is basically the same as a normal touch & go – but on water. A unique experience and having wanted to do this for a year or so, I decided now was the time.

We had to be at the Aviodrome (aviation museum/theme park of The Netherlands) 90 minutes before the flight. Entrance to the museum was free (because we had a ticket for the flight), so one can spend the entire day there. If you haven’t been there yet, definitely do so, it is well-worth your time!

The lady at the desk told us to go to one of the rooms in the old terminal building, where we would be shown a video about the history of the Catalina flying boats and our specific aircraft. Very interesting and educational. Afterwards there was a safety briefing, with room for questions from our side. While all of this was happening, the majority of the crew were fueling and preparing the aircraft.

Soon enough the briefing was over and we all headed outside towards the aircraft. Boarding was at the back, where they had put stairs under the blister (where the entrance was). The seats were very comfortable and it felt pretty spacious in there. With everyone in their seats, the crew started her up and we taxied to the holding point to do the engine run up. Those vintage pistons make such a lovely sound!

After take-off, we headed straight for the Ijsselmeer. During this part of the flight, we were allowed to walk around a bit. The view from the blisters is amazing, especially on this sunny day. After a few minutes, the cabin attendant asked us to take our seats again, as we approached the lake for our first splash & go. Traffic on the water was very quiet, so we had a very long run on the water before the engines revved up again. The sounds, the sight, the experience..!

When airborne again, we only had a minute or 2 before the second run. On that one, the floats at the end of the wing were dropped, which was a cool sight. This run was a bit shorter than the previous one, but still awesome.

By now it was time to return to the airport and we had the chance to look into the cockpit (which is elevated from the cabin, you had to stand on a seat). Touchdown was smooth and it was the end of my fun-filled weekend.

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