Operated by Plane Sailing Air Displays Ltd from Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, this Canadian-built version of the famous Catalina will be diverting from a 100th Anniversary Commemorative flight around Britain to overfly ‘Pembroke Dock’ – which in wartime became the largest flying boat station in the world.
Appropriately the Catalina carries American marking – recalling wartime days when the first US Navy flying boat squadron to operate in Britain flew into Pembroke Dock. This was Patrol Squadron 63 (VP-63) which flew alongside RAF and Commonwealth Sunderland units for several months in 1943.
The 70 year old flying boat will be staging around the British Isles, following the Circuit of Britain race route of 1913, undertaken by Australian aviation pioneer Harry Hawker. He almost completed the circuit flying a single engine Sopwith Waterplane.
Piloting the Catolina will be Jeff Boyling, who was born in Australia, along with a two-man crew.
Said Jeff: “We are following in the flight path of Harry Hawker exactly 100 years on in the only surviving Catalina still flying in the UK. With all its flying boat history we just had to put Pembroke Dock on our flight map.”
Strong links exist between the Catalina operators and the Sunderland Trust which runs the UK’s only Flying Boat Centre in the former Royal Dockyard. John Evans, of the Sunderland Trust, added: “This will be history re-enacted. Catalinas flew out of Pembroke Dock during the war and played a huge part in winning the Battle of the Attlantic.”
Subject to Operational requirements the white painted Catalina – registration G-PBYA and named ‘Miss Pick Up – will fly up the haven and around Pembroke Dock at approximately 3 pm on Saturday August 24th.