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Catalina: the transpacific flight


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Hello everyone! I read that one of the last Catalina made a flight from Australia to Chile

I'd like to do the same flight. Unfortunately, I did not find any route details.

May anybody please help?

Departure and arrival airports would be sufficient ATM.

Thanks in advance, ciao a tutti :)

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Rosario,

I was able to come up with this route flow by PG Taylor in 1951:

The flight departed Sydney and intermediate stops were made at Noumea, Fiji, Tonga, Aitutaki (Cook Is.), Tahiti, Mangareva and Easter Island (Isla de Pascua). The aircraft arrived at Valparaiso, Chile, on 27 March.

Cheers,

Kasper

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Wow Kasper, that was quick!

Thank you very much indeed.

On this page http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/Taylor%20Chile%20flight%20crew.htm you find that a return flight was also made, using the same route, but ending at Brisbane.

I also found these nice notes:

  • In this aircraft, famous Australian pilot P.G. Taylor pioneered an air route by island hopping across the Pacific from Sydney to Valparaiso, Chile. A journey of 13,679 km
  • This Catalina saw service in several air-sea rescue missions and in the New Guinea administration just after the war, before being selected by Captain Taylor to fly the first uncharted air route between Sydney and Valparaiso, Chile.
  • This Catalina is one of 168 ordered by the RAAF, No. A24-385, for service during World War II.
  • During the 1951 Australia to South America flight, take off from Easter Island was executed with the assistance of the JATO (jet-assisted take-off) rockets that had been fitted to the hull by the RAAF.
  • This aircraft has a wingspan of 31.70 metres or about the size of an average blue whale.

Looks a bit hard! :pilotic:

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I do not know if this is a temporary moment of madness, but I decided to start this adventure. It will take a long time, and probably I will not be firm enough to carry it out, but every journey begins with one step, right?

The first step in this long flight will take us from Sydney to Noumea. We have enough fuel to cover the entire route of 1200nm, but I'm not sure I have the time.

To overcome this drawback, we will be followed for the entire journey by a support ship. This way, when we're tired, we will just ditch into water and wait patiently for the next convenient opportunity to start again. :)

Here is our Catalina parked at the airport in Sydney. We have carried out all the checks and we are ready to taxi.

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It's 2:20 AM when we start taxiing to the 34R:

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And so our long flight begins. We are on the edge of MTOW, luckily the runway is very long, so we get up slowly in the air.

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The moon illuminates our plane as we set our engines for an initial climb of up to 5000 feet.

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After some time, despite the pleasant weather at the start, we suddenly are in a cloud with a bunch of lightnings. I think it is better to avoid this.

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So we climb to 7.000 feet. The storm clouds are now below us, and from here we can have a nice cruise with a wonderful view of the rising sun.

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We have a heading of 035°, the sun is rising at our right:

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Goes another hour, sunlight gives us some comfort.

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Now we are really tired. We flew for about six hours and 800 NM, now is the time to ditch.

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We cross the clouds and finally see the sea again.

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We have a good co-pilot on board, which handles many aircraft systems while we are busy with maneuvers. The floats are down and we're ready to get in touch with the Pacific Ocean.

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I have to say I'm happy, a really smooth touch and now we placidly sail on the calm water.

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Time to deploy the anchor and wait for the support ship. Are there any sharks out there?

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Next leg we will land on terra firma, New Caledonia is waiting for us.

Thanks for watching! :)

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Last night there has been a nice party on the support ship, with grilled fresh fish and rivers of wine. Unfortunately, my co-pilot was not accustomed to sumptuous lunches, and so, also because of seasickness, he had a great pain in the belly and mystical hallucinations.

So, since we could not sleep, we decided to leave in the middle of the night. :wacko2:

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Of course, I had to do everything myself, because my co-pilot kept saying incomprehensible phrases, and even some unpronounceable words.

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After a couple of hours, thanks to a pint of Neapolitan coffee and the sanctity of our crude autopilot, Capt. Gennaro Esposito (this is the name of the co-pilot) resumes its normal mental faculties and tries to figure out where the hell we are.

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I try to tell him the story of the flight across the Pacific on our Catalina, but he seems incredulous and asked me why I had not thought to call someone else in his place.

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Our strange conversation is suddenly interrupted by a pleasant view. Earth, New Caledonia ahead! The photo was taken by a friendly seagull.

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Luckily, Gennaro is now able to do his duty properly. We remove power from the engine and perform operations on our approach to the Noumea airport.

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Short final.

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The landing was a bit hard, despite the positive approach. Perhaps fatigue has affected the final maneuvers. We park our plane on the apron, salute the Mayor of Noumea, and enjoy the parade organized for our arrival. I love these things! :D

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We can finally rest. We will resume our adventure after a well earned rest in the luxurious five star hotel kindly paid for by the boss (Thank you Joe!!!). :yahoo:

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  • 2 weeks later...

After a few days of fun, since we have almost drained the bank account of the boss, we decided to continue our long journey.

The next leg will lead us to Fiji Islands, where we will be able to use some more money to enjoy the local beauties.

This time we can use some radio aid, at least in the first part. We will fly east towards the MR NDB and leave this on radial 040 to a small island. Once reached the island, we will continue to the NN VOR. We will have a great part of the route without any radio aid.

Almost as if we were criminals, we decided to go to the airport under the cover of darkness. During these days, my co-pilot Gennaro Esposito had fun painting the aircraft black.

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Let's give some electrical power to the cockpit and go through the pre-start checklist:

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Right engine is up and running. As it's a bit cold outside tonight, we have to prime it a bit to avoid the RPMs to drop.

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Left engine is also started, let's warm them up.

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We are now ready to go. Weather looks nice. Tower clears us to backtrack and takeoff, no traffic around. I have to say, we are a bit sad to leave. We had a lot of fun here!

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Gear up, please.

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We have to clear the mountains on our route to the east, so we'll perform a standard left traffic pattern to gain some altitude.

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5.000' on left downwind leg, time to turn east.

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Bye bye, New Caledonia!

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Here we are on the first island on our route. Tadine and Laroche are the two cities below us.

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Leaving the island, heading 040°.

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We have now reached the other small island, time to jump over the deep ocean.

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Cruising at 9.000'.

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I was taking some rest, Gennaro was the pilot flying. Suddenly, he started to yell "we've got it, we have the vor!".

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Okay, time to get back flying. Let me check the engines before starting the descent.

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Land, again.

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"Captain, we have the field in sight, right there!"

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Looks like there is no one in the tower. No problems for a visual approach, but we need to check the windsock.

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A low pass over the field, the wind looks calm. We'll use runway 20 for landing.

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Turning left base leg:

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On short final... those trees are HUGE!

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And we finally touch the ground on the main wheels. It's about midday.

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Runway vacated on Echo taxiway. The guys at the fuel shop are saying "hello". Don't you see them? :D

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Engines off. Time to rest again.

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:thanks: Thanks for watching, see you soon! :hat:

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HI Ros, thought I'd say how much I'm enjoying your marathon! Seem to remember getting to Fiji in the last ATWC - recognised the runway configuration. You'll have a great time there! And Thanks for sharing - great set of shots and commentary! :thum:

BTW did you get an upgrade to the Cat as well as a paint job?!?

Cheers - Dai. :cool:

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  • 5 weeks later...

(Note: this is one of my first full flights on P3D)

It's time to leave again. We have been here doing nothing but eating, drinking and having all sort of fun.

Maybe we could do the same things elsewere! :D

What about a New Year's Eve at Tonga?

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It's early in the morning, there is not so much activity at the airport.

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And we have liftoff. This will be a relatively short leg, about 470 NM. We will track a VOR on the other side of the island, then we will have to keep a heading outbound and hope the drift won't be so much.

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The thick vegetation below us.

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Climbing 7.000':

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We pass low above the hills:

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In about 20 minutes we are above Nausori International Airport. The Pacific Ocean is waiting for us.

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From now on, our sight will be on the wide ocean.

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See what I mean?

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Now and then, an island pops up and gives a little variety to the sightseeing:

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We are now getting the VOR signal, we have to correct our track consistently. Looks like the wind was a bit nasty. Anyway, here we are back on course, follow the needle!

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Finally, Tonga is ahead.

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The control tower clears us to descend 1.000' for a straight-in approach to runway 11.

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Some spotters on runway threshold were waiting for us. Say cheese!

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And here we are. I still don't know if we will spend the New Year's Eve here or will leave again in the next few days. Stay tuned!

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And thanks for watching. :hat:

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  • 2 weeks later...

The organizers of this trip have thought of everything.

As we are crossing the entire Pacific Ocean and there is plenty of water, why not doing everything in the water? :D

Destination, Cook Island, a 930NM leg. A long one indeed.

On board we have everything you need for the long crossing: water, bread, spaghetti, tomatoes, oil, pottery, salt, pepper, cheese, swordfish, coal and skewers.

And here we are ready to take off near the airport runway. The organizers have also modified and repainted the plane. What a team! But above all, what a beautiful day for flying.

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Engines are spooling, let's start the show.

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And up we go, in the blue blue sky.

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Take those floats up, please.

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A slow and steady climb to our cruising altitude.

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Radios are set, so we can easily follow some needles, for the first part of the flight at least.

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I told you, it's a great day for flying.

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The only boring thing is that you can only see water below.

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Right, we have got the last needle to follow, AI NDB. We are almost there.

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A check at the windsocks, we will land parallel to the runway.

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Floats are down.

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And a pretty soft touch over the calm water (thanks Accu-feel).

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Engines are off, waiting for the ground crew to bring the aircraft on ground.

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It's been a very long trip, we will stay here some time. Looks nice!

Thanks for watching, and thanks to jankees for the great livery. :hat:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Time to leave Cook Island. Next stop: Tahiti!

Our sponsors have been so kind to give us a brand new repaint (and wheels!) for this leg.

 

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Believe me, after such a long stay and no hangars around, it's been hard to start the engines.

 

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We're now heading up to the sky:

 

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The view is amazing:

 

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Leaving the NDB needle behind. As she will end her duty, we will have to run blind for almost 350 NM.

 

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Obviously, nothing to report during this long phase of the flight. We are now cruising at FL110.

 

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Tahiti VOR is now alive, we have 190 NM to go.

 

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The landscape changes. Here we are overflying the small island of Maiao.

 

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In a while we are over the beautiful Moorea:

 

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And Tahiti is finally ahead. It's not hard to understand why Gauguin decided to spend two years in this paradise.

 

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Flaring a few feet above the ground:

 

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We can clear the runway and taxi to the gate.

 

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We won't stay here two years as Gauguin did, but we will enjoy this place for sure!

 

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Thanks for watching!

 

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Yey! Well done,  :clapping:

I missed the last post, sorry. 

This tour is going really well, the catering is good, the weather is good and the flying is good. It doesn't get much better than that!

 

Ciao!

Joe

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Wonderful Ros,

You're bringing back a lot of memories (in reverse). At this point I presume you will be heading away from the route we took in the other direction on our yacht. You might like the Tuamotos, a bit north and east of Tahiti. Precious little fuel, though. If you're headed for places like Easter Island, take the wheels with you. There's no (safe) place to moor while sitting on the ocean.

Following this flight with enthusiasm.

Cheers,

March

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  • 7 months later...

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