PBY Catalina question

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by macknnc, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. macknnc

    macknnc New Member

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    I do some writing and finding a tough time answering this question...I am not an aviator so please exuse me if I fail to get some of the terminology correct..

    Is it possible to fly a PBY solo? I'm not asking if it is good idea, or even advisable, merely can it be done? I am hearing and reading about serious 'torque' or twisting from the engines that mean the controls have to have two men on the controls...is this true? I understand that this is a big plane with a lot of power for a single pilot...but could it be done?
     
  2. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I think in the Catalina's case there were 2 pilots because of the mental work load, not physical. The aircraft could stay aloft so long ( 24+ hrs.) it was just asking too much for one pilot to stay alert that long. They also had a flight engineer along to help monitor the engines, and a wardroom with bunks.
    Plus it was American practice to have pilot and co-pilot on most of it's twin engine and above bombers, patrol , and transport aircraft. Though any of them could be operated by one pilot.
    After all the British managed with one pilot on most of their multi-engined aircraft, Lancaster, Halifax, Stirling, etc. 4 engined aircraft, with each engine just as much, or more power that a Catalina, and they managed with one pilot.
     
  3. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    Handling the controls would be a one-person job (unless something went wrong). So I guess, it could be done. My only question would be, can you reach all of the controls from the pilots seat? (Landing Gear, radios, etc).
     
  4. macknnc

    macknnc New Member

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    Gumbyk, I don't know. That's why I am asking... could you? Could you take off, fly and land the plane by yourself..and for arguements sake, let's say the takeoff is from water, the landing would be on land, and yep, you've have to use the radio in flight...
     
  5. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The answer would probably be, yes, you could fly a PBY by yourself, although you wouldn't want to - and you couldn't fight in one; no radio operator, navigator, gunners etc. Avro Lancasters had single pilot stations, but they also had a flight engineer who sat next to the pilot; its predeccessor the Manchester was the first RAF bomber with one of these. As Tom alludes to above, multi engine aircraft require more than one crew member because of tasks associated with the aircraft's successful operation in the role for which they were designed.
     
  6. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    I haven't climbed into the cockpit to examine the layout but I would suspect that there would not be a problem flying the PBY by one pilot. I would think only reach would be an issue and not any flying characteristics.
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Looking at pictures of the cockpit I can't see any reason why the aircraft couldn't be flown by one pilot. All the flying controls are designed to be within reach of the right hand seat.
    I don't know whether the pilot could reach the radio from his seat in a WWII spec aircraft or not.
    Steve
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The pilot certainly had a headset and microphone, being able to tune the radio to a different frequency may or may not have been possible. Radio operators often transmitted in code (morse) as that type of transmission always had a much longer range than voice transmission.
     
  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Been trying to find time to post on this one.

    I have flown on a Catalina a few times, I worked for a man who owned one for a while. One pilot could fly it although it is a very heavy airplane. When I flew with Al, I "played" flight engineer in the "doghouse" just to help out. There's a lot going on but the aircraft flies very slow (I was able to keep up with it while in the pattern flying a cessna 150). Because of the size and heaviness of the aircraft from a safety aspect, two pilots "should" fly it, but I see no reason why it can't be flwon by a single pilot. I'm not 100% sure but I think some firefighting operations used PBYs with a single pilot.
     
  10. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Landing gear possibly, but radios definitely not. They were mounted rearward facing in the Nav/ Radio ops station behind the co-pilot.
     
  11. Geedee

    Geedee Well-Known Member

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    Yes it can be flown solo.

    I have an old documentary on VHS (remember them ?) tilted 'the Last Flying Boat in Africa' and its all about an entrpeneur trying to re-create the old Empire Flying Boat routes for passnegers utilising a Cat. In it, when the Cat is on the water just above the Aswan Dam, the only way they can get the old bird off is by the dude up front sitting on his lonesome and revving the nuts off the clockwork due to the atmospheric conditions at that time....and even then, he only just made it !. He was not a happy chappie at all but he did manage to make it to a hard runway to pick the crew and owner.

    Great documentary if you get the chance to watch it anytime
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    There is a cutaway here: consolidatedpby5acatali - Warbird Photo Album

    Which may show the radio compartment. If radios are switched on and Set correctly Pilot may be able to transmit and receive on preset frequency from his seat.
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    In speaking about WW2 operations, a radio operator is needed, in todays world you're going to have modern radios, panel mounted and wired to a PPT switch on the yoke.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Since we're talking PBY, here's a pic of me getting ready to climb into the FE's station. You could see the cocpit through the bulkhead opening.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. bob44

    bob44 Member

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    I might be mistaken, but I have read that all PBY's before postwar modifications required the FE for many operations such as engine controls, start up, mixture, cowl flaps, fuel tank selection and such.
    Can anyone confirm this?
     
  16. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The one I flew in (a PBY5-A) if I remember right had all controls mentioned shared between pilot and FE except an ignition switch. It might have varied between operator.
     
  17. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    J, was that Connie Edward's PBY that performed the NC-4 reenactment in 1987?
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    No, this bird belonged to Al Hansen in Mojave CA, around 2000
     
  19. macknnc

    macknnc New Member

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    Allright guys, think I am gathering the info I needed...One thing I sorta forgot to mention, (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) is that this PBY, though of course, a WWII vintage plane, but in the story, still flying in the today and has just undergone a extensive, full refit/rebuild bringing the plane as close to modern specs as possible for 1940s aircraft and is used to fly fishermen and their gear into remote area of Canada...a task I know PBY's are still used for...though the Grumman Goose gets a lot of use there too, but carrying heavy bulky loads, a PBY would have all sorts of advantages...
     
  20. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Ah, completely different kettle of fish then... Joe's info will be the most accurate for your needs then, or google extant PBYs in Canada. Should be a few modern cockpit pics.
     
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