Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A piece of aviation history I've actually seen

C. W. Swanson put up a picture on his blog of a heavy-lift helicopter recovering the fuselage of a Canadian-built Catalina flying-boat.  Curious, I tried to find out more about it.

The aircraft in question was based in Anchorage, Alaska.  It crashed in 1947 at Dago Lake, where it was deemed unrecoverable.

It was sold to a local family for a pittance, stripped of usable parts, then abandoned.  With the assistance of the Air National Guard, the wreck was recovered between 1984 and 1987.  The picture on C. W.'s blog (originally sourced from Wikimedia Commons, and reproduced below in a much smaller size) shows part of that recovery.

The wreck was transferred to the Alaska Aviation Museum, where it's very slowly being restored as time, money and manpower permit.  It's currently standing on its own undercarriage for the first time since it crashed:  definitely progress, even if there's still a very long way to go.

I saw it there when I was courting Miss D. in 2009.  She took me to the Museum to show me something of the aircraft and pioneers that had made Alaska the most aviation-reliant state in the Union (and inspired her to learn to fly soon after she moved there).  It was a very interesting visit, and I wondered about the background to the decrepit flying-boat standing outside the main building.  Thanks to C. W. and a bit of Internet searching, I now know much more about it!

Here's a video clip about the plane, with a close-up look at its current condition.



Anonymous said...

Peter, there is a real magician working on the only xp 82 scraps, that he purchase of the Soplata's airplane junk yard.
Goggle up Tom Reilly or xp 82 restoration and look into his rebuilding blog . Maybe you could share it on your blog.

thebronze said...

That's an Army National Guard helo, not Air National Guard. But I get your point.