Last flying Catalina Flying Boat arrives at Solent Airport in Lee-on-the-Solent after recreating race
THE last flying Catalina Flying Boat in Europe has touched down at Solent Airport after recreating a historic air race.
G-PBYA, a 1943 Catalina Flying Boat, is one of just 10 of the aircraft still flying worldwide - and the rare sight impressed the crowd gathered to watch her land at Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent at midday today.
The historic aircraft arrived from her home at The Imperial War Museum in Duxford, with Fareham-based pilot Jeff Boyling behind the controls, alongside seven other joint-owners of the aircraft acting as air and ground crews.
Pilot Jeff took just 13 minutes to fly a triangular route from West Wittering, The Isle of Wight and Gosport, recreating the historic 1931 Schneider Trophy Race.
The recreated route around the Solent marks the 90-year anniversary of Great Britain securing the trophy.
Jeff said it was ‘a fantastic experience’ to fly the route after a ‘diabolical’ 18 months for the aircraft.
He said: ‘The last two years have been diabolical because of Covid-19. Last year we had 22 air shows booked and we last pretty much the entire lot.
‘This is an opportunity to bring the aircraft around the country. This type of aircraft likes to fly, so it’s good to get it in the air.
‘And it’s ab opportunity for new shareholders to be on board.’
A total of 26 people own a share in the aircraft, with Jeff joining the scheme with a £1 fee and a £17,500 investment in the aircraft in 2011.
Solent Airport Daedalus manager Martyn Francis said the rare planes arrive brought huge ‘kudos’ to the airfield.
He said: ‘Having the kudos of this aircraft visit us is massive.
‘It attracts the attention of residents and other rare aircraft.
‘It’s not often we see one of these airplanes.’
The Catalina Flying Boat is due to wow crowds at the Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow on September 18.
The air boat is due to take off from Solent Airport at 2.30pm this afternoon.