Classic Aero-TV: PBY Catalina-From Wartime to Double Sunrises to the Long Sunset | Aero-News Network
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Classic Aero-TV: PBY Catalina-From Wartime to Double Sunrises to the Long Sunset

From 2022 (YouTube Version): Before They’re All Gone...

Humankind has been messing about in airplanes for almost 120-years. In that time, thousands of aircraft representing innumerable technologies, design philosophies, and aspirations both noble and contemptible have been built and flown. Airshows—the good ones—are lenses into aviation’s past. Events like AirVenture, Sun ‘n Fun, and Frontiers in Flight afford modern audiences glimpses of aircraft that shaped the world in war, and brought it together in peace.

A peculiarity of time is the manner in which it converts ubiquitousness to scarcity. Airplanes that filled the skies in their respective epochs grow rarer, and rarer, and rarer still. The Boeing-247, the DC-3, the 727, Concorde: iconic aircraft all, and all passing, in turn, from relevance, to nostalgia, to obscurity, to oblivion.

Between 1936 and 1945, 3,281 Consolidated PBY Catalina flying-boats were built in the U.S. and Canada. Another 27 were cobbled together in the Soviet Union. In 2022, ten Catalinas remain airworthy, and only five fly regularly. Such are the ravages of time on an aircraft that served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and was among the most widely used seaplanes of World War II.

The Catalina’s place in history is secure, and its usefulness and utility undisputed. The unmistakable, high-wing, twin-engine, amphibious oddity served throughout the Second World War’s operational theaters in capacities as diverse as patrol bombing (hence the PB designation), convoy escort, search and rescue, cargo transport, and anti-submarine warfare.


Though remembered primarily for its wartime contributions to the Allied war effort, the Catalina did see commercial use along routes almost inconceivable to contemporary sensibilities. Between 1943 and 1945, Qantas Empire Airways operated Catalinas on its weekly, aptly-named, Double Sunrise flights between Perth (in western Australia) to Colombo (Sri Lanka).   The crossing—depending on winds and aircraft loading—took between 28 and 32-hours and was conducted in radio-silence owing to the danger of Japanese wartime aggression.

Aero-TV is a production of the Internationally syndicated Aero-News Network. Seen worldwide by hundreds of thousands of aviators and aviation adherents, ANN's Aero-TV has produced over 5000 aviation and feature programs, including nearly 2000 episodes of our daily aviation news program, AIRBORNE UNLIMITED, currently hosted by Holland Lee. Now in its third decade of operation, parent company Aero-News Network, has the most aggressive and intensive editorial profile of any aviation news organization and has published nearly a half-million news and feature stories since its inception -- having pioneered the online 24/7 aviation new-media model that so many have emulated.

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