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IWMDuxford-based Catalina takes on a round-Britain challenge

On Wednesday 21 August, Catalina G-PBYA, operated by Plane Sailing Air Displays Limited and based at IWM Duxford, undertakes a remarkable aviation challenge.



Honouring the daring flying expeditions of the pioneer aviators, the Catalina will undertake, in its centenary year, the 1913 Circuit of Britain flight, which was flown by pilot Harry Hawker and mechanic Harry Kauper in a Sopwith Waterplane.

The Catalina celebrates its 70th birthday this month, making it the oldest UK-based airworthy amphibian. In 1913, the Circuit of Britain Race was the first major British competition for seaplanes.

The route in 1913 started and finished at Southampton Water, with eight control points en route. These were the Royal Temple Yacht Club in Ramsgate, the Naval Air Station in Yarmouth, the Grand Hotel in Scarborough, the Palace Hotel in Aberdeen, the Naval Air Station in Cromarty, the Great Western Hotel in Oban, the Royal St George Yacht Club in Kingstown, Dublin and the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club in Falmouth.

The crew of the Catalina intends to follow the 1913 route as closely as possible. The aircraft will take off from IWM Duxford on Wednesday 21 August to complete the 1600 mile route over approximately five days. They will be flying over some key historic sites, including Kingston, where the Sopwith Factory was based; Hook in Chessington, where Harry Hawker is buried and Brooklands Aerodrome (now Brooklands Museum), where Harry Hawker learnt to fly and tested aircraft for use in the First World War.

The Catalina will also orbit the Classic Boat Museumat Cowes, which has on display a 1/8 scale replica of the Bat Boat tested by Harry Hawker in 1913.

Although four aircraft were originally entered for this aerial challenge in 1913, of their competitors, Samuel Cody was killed in a flying accident on 7 August, while F K McLean withdrew his Short S.68 aircraft due to engine trouble. The Radley-England Waterplane was withdrawn for the same reason. Only the two Harrys took off on the day of the race.

Their first attempt ended at Yarmouth with a cracked cylinder head and pilot exhaustion. They started again on 25 August and managed to fly to just north of Dublin, but crashed in the sea when Harry Hawker’s foot slipped off the rudder while landing. The aircraft was destroyed and Harry Kauper broke his arm. Harry Hawker got a soaking, but was otherwise unharmed. While the Daily Mail prize money of Ł5,000 could not be given, a consolation award of Ł1,000 was donated. Shell commissioned Mappin & Webb to make a model of the Sopwith Waterplane, which was presented to Harry Hawker.

The 2013 Catalina commemoration is led by pilot Jeff Boyling, who, like Harry Hawker, was born in Australia and shares a passion for aeronautical adventure.

At the press call on Wednesday 21 August, you’ll be able to meet and chat with pilot Jeff Boyling, who is leading the 2013 Catalina commemoration. Jeff, like Harry Hawker, was born in Australia and shares a passion for aeronautical adventure. Descendants of Harry Hawker, the original aviation pioneer, will also be in attendance and can share their thoughts on Harry’s historic aerial achievements and what it means to them to see his original flight undertaken again 100 years later.

Until 10am, there will also be the chance to walk through the Catalina prior to its pre-flight checks. Then you’ll be able to see the aircraft take off for the first leg of its journey.

The Catalina centenary flight plan
All timings are local and may be subject to change. Flying is subject to weather and serviceability.

Wednesday 21 August
10.30am Depart IWMDuxford
10.50am Arrive at Tower Bridge, London
10.55am Arrive at Kingston – this is where the Sopwith Factory was based
10.56am Fly over Hook in Chessington – Harry Hawker’s resting place
11am Fly over Brooklands Museum– Harry Hawker learnt to fly here and tested aircraft for use in the First World War
11.20am Arrive at Southampton Airport
1pm Depart Southampton Airport and overfly the Solent Sky Museum
1.03pm Orbit opposite Netley Abbey – the start point of the 1913 race.
1.05pm Overfly Calshot
1.07pm Orbit the Classic Boat Museumat Cowes – there is a 1/8 scale replica of the Bat Boat (the forerunner of the Sopwith Waterplane) tested by Harry Hawker, on display at this museum
1.23pm Orbit the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Sea Cottages at Rustington and then take the coastal route to Ramsgate
2.10pm Display at Ramsgate and then take the coastal route north
3.07pm Display at Gorleston-on-Sea and then continue on the route north
4.28pm Display at Scarborough and then take the coastal route to Whitby
5.03pm Arrive at RAF Leeming for overnight stay.

Thursday 22 August
10.30am Depart RAF Leeming
10.48am Return to Whitby and then take the coastal route north
11.05am Orbit Seaham, where Harry Hawker put down for repairs on his 1913 flight
11.28am Orbit Beadnell, where Harry Hawker put down on his 1913 flight
12.02pm Overfly RAF Leuchars
12.16pm Orbit Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre. Harry Hawker put down at Montrose on his 1913 flight.
12.25pm Continue on the coastal route to Stonehaven
12.31pm Display at Aberdeen and flypast of Aberdeen Airport
1pm Arrive at Peterhead
1.10pm Arrive at Fraserburgh
1.20pm Arrive at Banff, a former Coastal Command base
1.32pm Arrive at RAF Lossiemouth and then continue west to Cromarty Firth
1.45pm Display at Cromarty
2pm Return to Invergordon
2.05pm Overfly Dingwall
2.14pm Overfly Dores to proceed down the Great Glen
2.24pm Overfly Glendoe
2.36pm Overfly Fort William
2.50pm Arrive at Oban, where the Catalina will overfly the Highland Games prior
to its closing
3pm Arrive at Oban

Friday 23 August
Rest day at Oban with a morning display over the harbour at 10.30am. The Catalina will be open for inspection at Oban Airport in the afternoon with a short local flight in the afternoon.

Saturday 24 August
11am Depart Oban and overfly Oban Harbour then follow the coastal route south to overfly the North Coast and Keills, where Harry Hawker set down for aircraft repairs during the 1913 flight.
11.56am Arrive at Larne and then follow the coastal route south
12.26pm Arrive at Kilkeel and then enter Irish airspace
12.41pm Arrive at Skerries
12.42pm Arrive at Loughshinny and undertake orbit for local residents
12.45pm Arrive at Rush
12.50pm Arrive at Baily Lighthouse
12.52pm Display at Dun Laoghaire followed by landing at Weston airport for fuel uplift
2.06pm Arrive at Bray Head
2.36pm Continue south on the coastal route to Rosslare and then depart Irish airspace
3.05pm Arrive at Dale, followed by Pembroke Dock, a Coastal Command Base
3.38pm Arrive at Bude and then take the coastal run to Tintagel
3.44pm Fly past Newquay to Perranporth
3.58pm Fly over Perranporth before returning to Newquay to land
4.03pm Land at Newquay Airport/ RAF St Mawgan to stay overnight

Sunday 25 August
1pm Depart Newquay Airport heading south on the west coastal route
1.16pm Arrive at Pendeen Lighthouse to fly around Land’s End and take the coastal route to
1.40pm Display at Falmouth, between Pendennis Castle and the Pennance Point.
2.20pm Arrive at Bolt Head
2.36pm Arrive at Exmouth
2.46pm Arrive at Lyme Regis
2.57pm Arrive at Portland and then take the coastal route to Swanage and Sandbanks
3pm Arrive at Poole Harbour and the Bournemouth seafront
3.12pm Arrive at Hengistbury Head
3.15pm Arrive at Needles Lighthouse and then take the coastal route south to the Isle of Wight.
3.31pm Orbit over the Classic Boat Museumat Cowes and then head to Calshot
3.37pm Orbit opposite Netley Abbey
3.39pm Overfly the Solent Sky Museum
3.40pm Overfly Southampton Airport
4.01pm Overfly Brooklands Museum– Harry Hawker learnt to fly here and tested aircraft for use in the First World War
4.04pm Overfly Hook in Chessington – Harry Hawker’s resting place
4.06pm Overfly Kingston, where the Sopwith factory was based
4.14pm Overfly Tower Bridge to clear north for the home run
4.34pm Arrive back at IWMDuxford!

Filed Under Historic Aviation News.


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1 Comment

Patrick said on the 19-Aug-2013 at 16:11

Looking forward to the fly past on the East Coast.

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