PBY Catalina International Association
1994 Volume 6, Number 1 (p.09)

I've made minor corrections. Click here to see the original Search

cover mandate to "promote enjoyable camaraderie within the Catalina flying-boat international community". I can report that a brief initial glance through VOL 5, NO 2 reveals contributions from no less than seven of my regular correspondents through the channel of The Catalina Society, namely; Brett Freeman, Jack Riddell and Eric Carpenter from Australia; Tom Garrett, Bill Kelly and Foster Lewis from USA and Mike Hughes from UK. Truly international!...Can I comment on two items in that same issue. Firstly, "Mail Buoy" item 28 on PBY-5A N5404J and its delivery flight to New Zealand. You will no doubt know by now that disaster struck this venture. The Catalina having to force-land on the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Tahiti in the general vicinity of Christmas Island after failure of the port engine. Subsequently, it sadly sank on 16 January 1994. (See Secondly in "Backfire" column!) ("PBY CIA" Editor: David! extreme gratitude is due you for your personal touch to not only network with PBY CIA, but to always convey a true sense of "Catalina" camaraderie in overall communication and include the nicest sense of constructive criticism...For those readers who are not familiar with David LEGG and the "CATALINA SOCIETY" but desire to know more of the Catalina Society, write to: DAVID LEGG, EDITOR, "THE CATALINA NEWS", 12 GAGE CLOSE CRAWLEY DOWN, CRAWLEY WEST SUSSEX RH10 4XT, ENGLAND)

21.--Harry HUGHES (RAF No. 209 Sqdn.): This note is accompanied with a voice tape of a New Zealander, Jeff BLANEY a fellow mate with RAF 209. Jeff is specifically recalling experiences of our Indian Ocean operations with the "Cats" during World War TWO on a 60 minute tape het to still another "209" nostalgic Cyril JOHNSON. Jeff tells his story in his precise-characteristic New Zealand accent that holds one's attention throughout the recording. It has made its rounds with 209 Squadron. I am sure you will enjoy it too. You will hear mention of Dr. Arthur BANKS who is writing "THE INDIAN OCEAN STORY" that will reportedly contain some of what Jeff relates in this tape. I am forwarding some of the literature gathered for Arthur's book for your possible use...As regards to Jeff Blaney's tape as well as reference made in Arthur Bank's book regarding Cat "L" and "K", the skipper of "L", Flt/LT Ken MURRAY, one of the best I have had the pleasure of meeting is presently in a poor state of health today at his home in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Ken is credited with sinking the last U-boat of the war. Take Care s/Harry & Min Hughes.
(Ed: (1.--The voice tape is well worth listening to regardless of one's own "Cat" experiences & theatre of operations. My (The Editor, Jim Morrison) intention is to avail it in circulation something like a chain-letter to members of "PBY CIA" whose name appears on the current registry/roster. Simply drop a postcard request to me! (2.--Re. Arthur Banks and his book, "The Indian Ocean Story", the editor chooses at this time to respect possible proprietary privilege he may have established regarding sensitivities involved, prior to releasing certain passages availed to me. (3.--The UPPER-CASE letter; "K" & "L" cited above for the uninformed reflect the large identification system utilized by RAF 209 Squadron to coincide with serial identification in typical smaller style. (4.--Ken Murray, mentioned by Harry, is according to my reference material credited with so severely damaging "U 320" on 7 May 1945, it is cited as a "kill" as well as being the last of 699 Nazi German U-boats claimed by the WW-II Allied Forces.--Thank you Mr. Hughes for your personal sharing of experiences and collections. The sharing will continue!)

22.--Bill MACKLEY (RNZAF NO. 6 Sqdn): I have been waiting to tell you about the arrival in New Zealand of the PBY-5A purchased in the USA from Henry "Hank" Hancock and previously registered under FAA #N5404J. As you probably know by now, it is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean about

150km north of Kiritimati Island (formally Christmas Is.)...The ferry flight seemed to be dogged by problems before it left Denton, Texas with costs mounting continuously so there was considerable urgency to get going. The "Catalina Company" had hoped to have the aircraft here in N.Z. in time to fly out over the Tasman Sea to photograph the yachts round the world "Whitbread" race as they approached N.Z. This would have been done on behalf of a TV station with a nice fee involved to offset some expenses. It is nice though that the crew are all safe and perhaps the insurance coverage may help toward the purchase of another suitable "Cat"...The whole purchase and associated costs hinged on marginal financial arrangements as I understand. This loss of N5404J will probably be cause for more determination to acquire a Cat for our "Warbirds" collection!...I am sorry I could not make the Seattle reunion, but income circumstances and other costs have prevailed...In fact we are considering with our age that adjustments may dictate that a smaller home would give us more opportunity to travel etc...I am enclosing a copy of the RNZAF Intelligence Bulletin describing our rescue of the USAAC "Liberator" crew for your repository etc. This validates the report I sent previously...Recently one of my sons bought a 1966 "MOONEY" 120B. The aircraft is in great condition and I often get invited to 'Go Flying'! Its well equipped for demanding flight requirements; i.e., ILS, VOR, DME etc. and a delight to fly. 'Lucky me'! Looking forward to flying with it to a big "Warbirds" gathering on the South Island. Best of Good Wishes/ Bill Mackley
(ED: See "PBY CIA" VOL. 5, NO. 2, "Mail Bag Recovery" item 28 for Bill MACKLEY's previous coverage on B-24 "Liberator" rescue ops, as well as New Zealand's "Warbirds" organization to purchase USA located PBY-5A...With this last letter of Bill's he enclosed the "New Zealand Herald" account of PBY-5A's background to its misfortunate terminal flight...QUOTE: Seven crew members of a historic Catalina flying boat were safe last night (16 Jan 94) after a nighttime forced landing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean...They were pitched into the sea in the early hours of yesterday after the Catalina suffered and engine failure...Frantic efforts to bail out the stricken 51 year old aircraft failed and they took to their life raft..."There were just too many leaks", Dr. Ross Ewing of Auckland said last night after being rescued by a container ship, "Direct Kookaburra" bound for the U.S....As the crew waited to be rescued they saw their prize craft sink "like a big whale". It was a sad moment...While lamenting the loss of the vintage flying boat, Dr. Ewing was full of praise for the American pilot who brought the plane down in the dark...He said the crew were extremely fortunate to survive the forced landing without injury...He said Mr. Kirk Broeder could not see the ocean as he eased the aircraft down until it made contact with the water...I would describe it as even better than a textbook landing..."After all, we don't normally do it at night" he said...Dr. Ewing, three other New Zealanders and three Americans were plucked from their life raft after a 12-hour ordeal that began when the Cat's port engine failed halfway between Hawaii and Tahiti...The historic amphibious aircraft was being brought to N.Z. from the U.S. by a group of Catalina enthusiasts...It was flying the old Tasman Empire Air Lines, (TEAL), "coral route" across the Pacific, but the journey had been beset with problems...On the first leg of its journey from Los Angeles to Hawaii the crew had trouble with the electrical and communications systems...Dr. Ewing said the engines had been fine until the 'catastrophic failure' struck about 150km north of Kiritimati Is....With a maximum load of fuel on board for the long distance flight, it was impossible for the aircraft to maintain altitude...Weighed down by its remaining 1000 gallons of fuel, the Catalina progressively lost height...The pilot put out a "mayday" call to the U.S. Federal Avia-