PBY Catalina International Association
1990 Volume 2, Number 2 (p.05)

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Although there was a described warehouse purchase made of spare parts and equipment to accompany the overall sale of the FOUR PBYs. It had not been made clear to this writer as to whether they were available during this flight preparation to the U.S.A.! There were the basic examinations of electrolysis activity (corrosion) about the hulls, landing gear assemblies, wing struts, engine attachments and flight lifting surfaces and other flight safety regions. The fabric surfaces were less than desirable, but generally intact except certain rib stitching frayed, but perhaps the frequency of the seine knots would prevail for this one time flight, with the application of slick surfaced adhesive tape to the more threatened areas. The batteries were hopelessly beyond use, with not enough aircraft batteries available, some 12 volt, 180 ampere batteries were connected in series served as necessary substitutes. There were engine oil leaks that were beyond "operational seepage" to be corrected along with a rather long list impairing malfunctions and general mechanical "maladies" to establish preventative in-flight safety measures. All linkages were actuated for correct throw and freedom of movement, cable tensions corrected etc. Although one 48 year old, First Sergeant, Jorge Cantanheda Franca of the Brazilian Air Force (Forca Aerea Brasileira) who had spent 29 years in the service and over 8000 hours as a PBY-5A "flight-engineer; working with the two U.S. mechanics, there was still the matter of doing the best with what one had to work with.
Some "sooth sayer" said the proof is in the pudding! There was certainly an analogy of that saying as the first three airplanes were considered ready for test-flight. Of FIVE test flights, FOUR revealed such frustrating results as excessive nose-wheel shimmying to at first abort the test flight until the disturbance was down to an annoyance (only one plane did not suffer the "shimmies"); on one plane an accessory drive shaft sheared on one engine, ceasing operation of both its fuel and oil pumps causing a shut down of that engine (an electric fuel boost pump was used just prior to landing so that both engines could be in use long enough for safe landing but too long for the engine to be without oil, so the engine had to be replaced); on plane (of course it was the one that did not have a shimmying nose-wheel) had prop-govenor problems, serious enough that in order to recontrol the propeller, it required manipulating the feathering button delicately enough to control the situation until relanding and even an electrical fire broke out on another flight within the newly installed radio equipment that evoked some degree of panic until the equipment's electrical source was cut-off and fire extinguishers controlled the blazing until a landing was made. These were some of the major malfunctions that justified the series of "test-flights".
Then the moment-of-truth presented itself for the determination of readiness for the favorable side of calculated risk to complete the task of flying THREE of the FOUR PBYs to first Herndon Field, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. (Do any of you recall that this too was a Naval Air Station for a while?) Except for #4 aircraft (Chuck REMY's Bu.No.46457) that was to be flown out later for static-display at the "Air-Sea Rescue Museum" at Albuquerque. At last the two entrepreneurs; Maurice SKINAZI and David TALLICHET, both quite financially successful, were poised at another milestone to convey three of the four PBY-5As to the intended purchasers. Tallichet, who is perhaps the world's most prominent private collector of vintage aircraft, especially of World War TWO, would be retaining one of these amphibious Catalinas. Two of the planes were involved in an old fashioned "horse trading" relationship that were destined for military air museums. An early version of the Lockheed "Hercules", C-130A in exchange for two PBY-5As. The assembly of the ferry-crew was indeed minimal and for correlation purposes, the respective crewmembers are aligned as follows to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) registration numbers assigned: N-4582T (Bu.No.46595) Roy DEGAN, Republic Airlines Senior Captain; Roger PHELAN, Director of Aviation for "Tallichet's Vintage WW-II Aviation Museum"; and Pat EPPS, an old friend of Degan. N-4583A (Bu.No. unknown) Robert "Bob" STIRM, Retired U.S. Air Force pilot and his neighborhood friend, Mitchell "Art" PERRY, Retired U.S. Coast Guard Aviation pilot. N-4583B (Bu.No. unknown) David TALLICHET, Veteran pilot & Aviation Businessman and Gene SMITH, Freelance writer/photographer/pilot.
NOTE: David Tallichet had engaged the services of a "Denny" GHIRINGHELLI, a current qualified PBY-5A pilot from Australia as the "Check-Pilot" for those hired pilots to perform this one time ferry flight. Denny departed before this final stage for other business commitments.