The Double Sunrise

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by ShVAK, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    #1 ShVAK, Sep 17, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
    Something interesting I found about a superlong Qantas overwater flight from West Australia to Pakistan... have a newfound respect for the capabilities of the PBY and also for their crews' navigational skill and endurance. From Wiki:

    In 1943, Royal Australian Air Force personnel were seconded to operate Catalinas under the banner of Qantas. The plan called for flights between Crawley, Western Australia, and RAF Base Koggala in southern Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The flights were the longest non-stop air route of any airline, over 3,500 nautical miles (6,480 km, 4,020 mi) across the Indian Ocean. Navigating without the aid of radio, the crews relied solely on rudimentary navigation by compass and stars during the trip.[2][3]

    Taking between 27 and 33 hours, with departure timed so that the flight crossed Japanese occupied territory during darkness, the crews would observe the sunrise twice, which led to the service being known as "The Double Sunrise".[4] The flight route flown was along the coast from Crawley to Exmouth then setting out towards Cocos (Keeling) Island or Christmas Island (though neither was actually sighted during the flight1) and onto Galle, a journey of approximately 3,580 nautical miles (6,630 km; 4,120 mi). After the success of the initial flights, it was decided to run a weekly service, with some services flying over Rottnest Island and then taking a direct line to Galle. As part of the Australia-England air route there was a surface component from Galle to Karachi that added considerable time to the service. This was later replaced by the Double Sunrise service, with Karachi to England flown by BOAC.[5] Air crews would change in Galle taking the next plane in either direction minimising the time taken to complete the journey.[6]1

    Though stripped of all non-essential equipment, including de-icing equipment and insulation, the average takeoff weight was 35,100 to 35,300 lb (15,900 to 16,000 kg) (maximum takeoff weight for a PBY Catalina was 35,400 lb (16,100 kg)); this included 1988 gallons of fuel, which gave the Catalina a range of 3,600 nautical miles (6,700 km; 4,100 mi). The service made 271 crossings, delivered over 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) of mail and carried 860 passengers, including among them British MP Edith Summerskill and the journalist Keith Murdoch.[7][6]2

    After the war the five modified Catalinas that had flown The Double Sunrise service were scuttled.[2]


    Could you imagine the drone of two big P&W's and staring at the great wide ocean for 30 some odd hours? Hope you brought some books.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    The certificate they gave passengers upon completion of the flight.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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  4. Rick65

    Rick65 Member

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    I used to sail off Pelican Point in Crawley where the Cats were based in Perth and still sometime walk my dog there.
    There were plans to build a building there as a memorial to the civil and military flights that began there. The plans for this went as far as purchasing a (different model) Catalina, but the building never proceeded and the plane is now at the Aviation Heritage Museum in Bull Creek.
    RAAFAWA
    There was a thread on WIX about the fate of the double sunrise Catalinas.
    Warbird Information Exchange • View topic - Rottnest Island Cats??
    From that thread:
    Four Catalinas (and various other stuff) were scuttled off Rottnest
    Vega Star (G-AGFL/FP221 - tail code 1)
    Altair Star (G-AGFM/FP244 - tail code 2)
    Rigel Star (G-AGID/JX575/BuAer08215 - tail code 3)
    Antares Star (G-AGIE/JX577/BuAer08217 - tail code 4)
    The fifth Catalina (G-AGKS/JX287 Spica Star - tail code 5) at Sydney Heads off Rose Bay, Sydney
     
  5. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    For those interested I can recommend the book "Silent victory" by Arthur Leebold which details the history of this operation.
     
  6. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Excellent story! Thanks for posting. That certificate is something to have!
     
  7. canaanchamp

    canaanchamp New Member

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    As a former navigator that flew those same waters in much more advanced gear, my hat is off to the crews and aircraft. I love that they paid tribute to the stars that got them home by naming the aircraft after them. I'm sure they had eagle eyes on fuel burn and mixture and had ETP figured to the inch. There's nothing like a 3 star fix with a pressure line down the middle. In my day we used those to update the palletized INS.
     
  8. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Interesting story! Thanks for sharing.
     
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