A project to restore a 1942 Consolidated Aircraft Corporation PBY-5B Patrol Bomber Seaplane
for Display in the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
On the 28th of May, 1944, a PBY-5B, Number FP-216, was involved in a water-looping accident in East Bay, Pensacola, Florida that resulted in strike damage to the airplane. The historian for the PBY Catalina International Association (PBY CIA), I. James Morrison, was stationed at Pensacola at the time. According to his recollections, the aircraft was parked on the seaplane ramp used by Training Squadron VN8D-8A for some time after the accident. waiting to be stricken, until an enterprising Safety Training Officer convinced his superiors that, rather than scrapping the airplane, it could be turned into a training exhibit. Accordingly, he made arrangements to have the entire hull built into the back wall of what was then Survival Training Unit Building at the Naval Air Station. Half of the hull was inside the building and the other half was outside, with the outer wing panel was removed, leaving the stub wing and starboard engine in place. On the inside, the port wing wing was totally removed. The imaginative Training Officer then arranged for the Naval Air Station Assembly and Repair (A & R) Department to selectively remove the metal skin all along the half of the hull inside the building, exposing to view all the inside compartments and operator stations, including the “tower” which is the flight engineer’s station inside the cabane strut between the wing and the hull.
There it remained, intriguing countless Naval Aviators in training, until the mid-90s when plans were made to demolish the Survival Training Building and convert its site to other uses. The future of FP-216 was uncertain.
The PBY CATALINA INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION, a non-profit organization whose mandate is to promote enjoyable camaraderie within the Catalina flying boat international community, became aware of this “once in a lifetime” specimen while holding its 1995 annual reunion in Pensacola and investigated what might be in store for it in the future. It was learned that FP-216 was the property of The National Museum of Naval Aviation and that there were no plans for it beyond its being saved when the building was demolished. In consultation with the Museum, the PBY CIA learned that there are avenues for groups, such as the PBY CIA, to provide the funding support to proceed with a restoration project because, otherwise, it might take several years before they would be able to undertake the operation. After a survey of the members revealed that the Association had the capability of effective fund raising, the PBY CIA was instrumental in organizing a non-profit corporation to solicit, raise and disburse funds to finance the Cutaway PBY Display within The National Museum of Naval Aviation at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola Florida.
Today, thanks to the donation of many, many dollars and many, many hours of volunteer effort, FP-216, nearly fully restored, has been moved to the museum floor and is now available for public viewing. As far as we know, this is the only display in any museum where visitors can view the interior of a large World War II patrol bomber seaplane by simply walking up and looking in. FP-216 is positioned almost directly under PBY-5, Buno 08317, which hangs in the museum’s West Wing. This arrangement allows visitors to view both simultaneously: the cut-away hull of FP-216 at eye level, with all of its equipment and work stations in full view, and a nearly identical Catalina “soaring” directly overhead. One possible future enhancement might be a full crew of figures in proper vintage uniforms, manning their work stations, along with audio narration “re-living” various historical PBY engagements of World War II.
We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of parts to track down. Take a look at our list of deficiencies to see how you can help.
The KMHS-56 2013 Picnic
This is the “KM-56 Bunch” who got together for fun, sun and catered food at Marty’s place on Lake Meridian for our annual picnic. This is only about half of the crowd, but our “dates” declined to be photographed with such a bunch of reprobates. If you missed the fun, you’ll just have to live with yet one more bad decision in your life. …but, there’s still hope. As almost always, our regular monthly luncheon will resume on the last Thursday of the August. That’s Aug 29th on my calendar. Put it on your calendar now!
Same place and hour as always: “noonish” on the last Thursday of the month at The Embassy Suites at 15920 West Valley Highway. Their phone is 425-227-8844 and their website is here.
You don’t need reservations or prior arrangements – just show up around lunch time and look for a bunch of noisy old-timers who look vaguely familiar. Bring a spouse, a “date”, an old classmate, or all three, and we’ll see you there.
And now … on with the website!
Originally, this site consisted of photos of Class of 56 attendees at the “KM-2000 All Years Reunion” in August 2000. As the webpage “matured”, I’ve reorganized it several times and added a ton of other photos, including group shots from other reunions, class photos as far back the 1st grade and a growing collection of personal photos, “vintage” and otherwise.
Feel free to help yourself to any of these pictures and pass them along to classmates you might be in contact with, particularly those not online. Just right-click on the full-size image and follow the prompts to save it to your hard drive.
Many of these images have been reduced in size for use on the webpage. If you’d like copies of the original full-sized files, drop me an email.
Important! If you have any KMHS-56 photos, slides, etc. that seem appropriate for this page, please email me and we’ll figure out how to get them posted here.
As you scroll through the online class directory, trying to connect these “well experienced” faces to names you remember from long ago, you’ll notice that we have still have classmates whose information is out-of-date, incomplete, inaccurate or missing entirely. If you’re in contact with any of these folks, please point them here with the “assignment” to fill out an Info Form or, at least, send me their email address so I can start the wheels rolling. If they’re not online, just print out the printable version of the Info Form for them to fill out and mail in.