This is such a great story. It seems as though they weren’t/aren’t wooden at all. But, in a way, they are sort of related to Howard Hughes’ SPRUCE GOOSE. At any rate, I hope you will enjoy this post.
Flying boat yachts
I remember being on a commercial flying boat once as a kid, flying from Long Beach (CA) to Catalina Island. And what a great experience it was.
So, what’s the story behind the story?
“Over the years, I periodically and repeatedly came across two entirely different series of photographs, taken 45 years apart. The first group was taken in 1950 by famed LIFE magazine photographer Loomis Dean. These images, purporting to be of a wealthy man cavorting with family and a couple of beautiful women off the California coast on a luxury PBY Catalina, were in fact a staged event put on by the company that refitted the old US Navy amphibian. Today we would call this an advertorial. ”
So writes Dave O’Malley on the fascinating website “Vintage Wings of Canada.”
More: “The Catalinas in both instances were postwar conversions to a luxury flying yacht known as the Landseaire. One demonstrated the dreamlike glamour and recreational possibility of the flying yacht, while the other was a forlorn remnant, telling a story of one of those dreams wrecking on the shores of a hostile country. I kept those images in separate folders for a couple of years, and recently it occurred to me that they were related, and worthy of a story together.
The Consolidated PBY, in both its Catalina and Canso iterations, was one of the most versatile aircraft of the Second World War. The American-designed flying boat was first developed as a patrol bomber for the defence [sic] of American coastlines and the far-flung island archipelagos of the Pacific Ocean. It was utilized as a reconnaissance platform, bomber, submarine killer, liaison transport and as an Air Sea Rescue aircraft, plucking downed aviators from the despair of a ditching. The big twin-engined aircraft was first designed as a pure flying boat, capable of operating solely from water. A later development, the PBY-5A added an amphibious capability with retractable undercarriage and one of the most versatile aircraft in history was born.”
“The ‘executives’ seem like they have no idea what they are doing, paddling the Landseaire’s boat with oars instead of rowing. In the background, the models lounge on the PBY’s wing while crew members seem to be very interested in their condition. The man on the left in the row boat is Glenn E. Odekirk, then president of Southern California Aircraft Corp. The Oregon State University (OSU) alumni website says this of Odekirk: ‘Odekirk during the 1930s and through the Second World War was the assistant to the president of Hughes Aircraft and had a very close, professional relationship with the man who was president—millionaire eccentric Howard Hughes. For several years, the two flew around the country together, testing the young OSU engineer’s ideas and arguing constantly over the most trivial matters of airplane construction. It was Odekirk who carefully examined airplane after airplane during the 1930s to find the one Hughes eventually used to set his record-breaking round-the-globe flight of 91 hours.’
A plane Odekirk helped design during 1935, known to historians as the H-1, set a world speed record of 352.39 miles per hour in September of that year, beating Raymond Delmotte’s (of France) record of 314.32 miles per hour. The plane was revolutionary for its time and was one of the first planes in history to sport retractable landing gear and special counterstruck screws and flat rivets to reduce wind resistance.
Odekirk’s most famous project was the work he contributed to the legendary Spruce Goose and was aboard when Hughes piloted the plane on its one and only flight on 2 September 1947.”
There is much much more. If you’re intrigued at all by the above, I suggest you read the rest of the post, here:
P.S. Iain Oughtred sent this email to me:
Among the Comments on your remarkable photo of the Catalina – i mentioned my 1/64 scale model – which incidentally is actually wood. Such a fine machine.
These wood models come from Bravo Delta Models, who have them made in the Philipines. Shapes and proportions are generally very good – but not always quite right. Colors etc good. Paint finish is very thick and maybe too glossy. Of course you don’t get the amazing fine surface detail that you get with the plastic kits. The black glazing on this one is unusual, and too black. The models are in odd scales, so they finish up around the same size, to fit in their standard size shipping box. I was very interested to just see how they do a wood model. Many of my favourites are not available in the right scale, by the best kit makers, if at all.
I had thought to repaint it in the Greenpeace colors … but that was intended for the big 1/48 scale kit, among the impressive collection up in the loft, awaiting retirement. Which of course will not happen.