Consolidated 28-5ACF Catalina
Aircraft saw war service with the U.S. Navy and allocated the BuAer number 48373. After seeing war service it is known to have carried the American civil registrations of N10018 and N95R with Beldex Corporation prior to being purchased by Ansett Flying Boat Services. The conversion to airline passenger configuration was undertaken by Remmert Werner, which was based in St. Louis. It had previously been fitted out as an executive aircraft and had an air stair in the rear fuselage. Registered VH-BRI to Ansett Transport Industries P/L on 10/10/1959.
Departed St. Louis on 10/10/1959 on the ferry flight to Australia and routed via El Paso, San Francisco, Honolulu, Canton Island, Nadi, Tontouta, Sydney and arrived at Melbourne on 19/10/1959. The known crewmembers for this delivery flight were Captains S Middlemiss, L Maundrell, and as Navigator E W P Adams and Engineer R Bush. Whilst in service with company aircraft was named 'Golden Islander'. The main route served by this aircraft was the Proserpine to Hayman Island service. On 28/10/ 1960 ownership of aircraft was transferred to Ansett Flying Boat Services P/L and registered to the company.
On 8/7/1962 aircraft ended its flying days when it made a heavy landing at Hayman Island and sprung a few rivets. It was left at the mooring overnight but by morning had sunk with only the wings visible. Struck off the Australian civil register on the same day. After the accident V O'Hara tendered for the salvage rights for the aircraft for the princely sum of £5/0/0. Refloated and towed by barge to Shute Harbour and then by road to Cannonvale after its wings were removed.
Later moved to Proserpine where it sat for a period of time before undergoing conversion to motor cruise and being powered by two 120 horsepower General Motors engines. The cruiser maintained the basic Catalina hull and is still complete with the retractable nosewheel and main landing gear. Also the rear airstair, which was a feature of postwar conversions, is still in existence. The upper deck of the cruiser was completely rebuilt and can now comfortably accommodate twelve people in luxury, as it is equipped with all modern conveniences. From all the pilots that have seen this conversion they all say it is immaculate.
© Gil White (2006)
To my page Australia 2005
"It has been a great pleasure to have known you all, but my days are now numbered." -24Jun06.
Gil White passed away on 27Jun06. He will be remembered by me as a enthusiastic (Ansett) historian and a courageous person; may he rest in peace.