Vintage hero of the skies causes a stir in the north

Catalina on the ground at Lossiemouth. (c) RAF Lossiemouth

A vintage flying boat caused a bit of a stir right along the north east coastline on Thursday, thrilling enthusiasts and scaring the unwary all in the same afternoon!

As reported on insideMoray earier this week. the 1940’s Catalina aircraft G-PBYA visited the north east as part of its tour around the UK coastline, undertaken to mark the 100th anniversary of the ‘Circuit of Britain’ challenge when in 1913 pioneers of the air where invited to attempt to fly around the country.

Before the vintage aircraft, decked out in US Air Force livery, dropped in at RAF Lossiemouth it caused a stir over Aberdeen, where it flew low over the City to the surprise of hundreds of residents who reported a ‘strange aircraft’ buzzing the beach area at a surprisingly low altitude.

Dozens of air enthusiasts lined the perimeter fence on the approach to RAF Lossiemouth to catch a glimpse of the aircraft when it visited the base, where the local RAF Benevolent Fund-raising team were waiting to greet it alongside station commander, Group Captain Ian Gale.

The 1913 Daily Mail sponsored challenge was undertaken by Australian Harry Hawker, who flew 1000 of the 1540 mile trip before crashing north of Dublin – but he had gone further than any other pilot.  Piloting G-PBYA into Lossiemouth was another Australian, Jeff Boyling, who flew alongside Paul Warren-Wilson from the aircraft’s owners based at Duxford.

Jeff has also undertaken to raise funds from his adventure on behalf of the RAF Benevolent Fund – visit his Just Giving donations page for details.

After watching G-PBYA landing in Moray, enthusiast Carl Ponting from Nairn said: “When I read about the visit earlier this week I had to drive along to see the Catalina.  It was quite magnificent seeing it fly over and just a pity we were not able to see it land in its natural environment on the water!

“All the same it is not often you will see a Catalina in the air around Moray these days – this I understand is the only one flying in the UK.  Perhaps one day we will see a return to air shows in Moray and with that not just this but many other vintage aircraft visit our part of the country.”