This series of posts will retrace a few of the surviving airworthy (or close) PBYs around the world, and their history.
N85U is no more.
The last active Catalina waterbomber has been destroyed. The Cyclone-powered PBY-6A, which spent the last few decades based in Washington state, fighting forest fires, had been hired to appear in the upcoming Nicolas Cage war movie “Indianapolis”, when it was beached two days after its arrival there due to a leak. A misfortune for sure after spending months refurbishing and repainting the plane for its movie appearance. But the worst was still to come…
The plane was completely salvageable, although all the electronics were probably totalled, however the recovery turned to a complete disaster when the misuse of a crane destroyed the fuselage, leaving N85U a three-part wreck.
It is especially infuriating and frustrating to see such criminal incompetence as PBYs do have a hoisting point on top of the wing for precisely the kind of lift that was required. Wrong tools and unfamiliar crews can make a dangerous combination… A very sad, completely avoidable accident, and the end of one of the most iconic planes in the USA.