Europe’s last Catalina flying boat remains an air show favorite | Airlines

Flying boats are a rare breed of aircraft these days. Yet while their popularity as versatile flying machines may have faded since their heyday in the 1930s and 1940s, there remain a few that are still going strong, in most cases many decades after they first took to the air.

One such example is a UK-based Catalina flying boat that carries the registration G-PBYA. 3,305 Catalinas were built during the Second World War, but this particular aircraft, which reached its 80th birthday in October 2023, is one of only ten that remain airworthy.

Holding the honorary position as the sole remaining Catalina flying boat left in Europe, in 2024 G-PBYA (also known as ‘Miss Pick Up’ – see below) is marking 20 years on the European air show circuit. Displaying at over 20 events across Europe between May and October 2024, the plane still draws the public’s attention wherever it appears – indeed, the plane even has its own fan club, The Catalina Society, with around 700 members worldwide.

AeroTime looks at the fascinating story behind this particular Catalina – from warbird to water bomber, and from sitting abandoned in Canada to becoming a perennial favorite on the European air show scene.

Background to the PBY Catalina

The PBY Catalina series of flying boats was…

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