A restored PBY

Some of us remember when Hawkins & Powers, Hemet Valley Flying Service, SLAFCO, and others operated PBY air tankers. For those feeling nostalgic about the amphibious aircraft, the video below features a Consolidated PBY-5A that was found in South Africa and painstakingly restored.

Below is an example of another PBY, used as an air tanker.

PBY-6A
PBY-6A. At various times operated by Farmers Air Service, Liston Aircraft, Hemet Valley Flying Service, Flying Fireman, Atwood Air, ICONA, and Servicious Aereos Espanoles.

UPDATE, December 4, 2014: Below is a photo I just ran across that I took around 1970-1972. It was most likely in California, and looks like Redding.

PBY air tanker
Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Carl.

10 thoughts on “A restored PBY”

  1. Yep

    A lot of us feel nostalgic about these aircraft similarly to all those in the LAT and those retiring DC3 SJ aircraft….

    Aviation by and in itself has many folks who have painstakingly restored any aircraft be it miltary, civilian, or fire…

    Now when it comes to contracting an operator or operators the good ol LMA’s should view more than ohhhh 2080 hours of films like this to get a better idea……wait for it…..WHY they ought to contract for more than 5 yrs at a time

  2. Slattery also 2 Tiger Cats, a TBM, A1 Skyraider and many others. In build up are a SBD, SB2C, F4U, P-38 and a B-23.
    Except for the ones in build up, these aircraft can be seen at Gillespi Field in El Cajon at Jet Air on the North side of the airport.
    If your in the area it’s worth a look.

    1. To this day I kick myself for not taking a co-pilot’s job
      -flying University of Washington’s B-23 .The old aviation story of flying something really cool vs. eating regularly…

  3. Farmers Air Service and the other gone companies probably mean little to the newest generation of wildland fire fighters. Farmers operated in addition to the PBY a real “borate bomber” P 61 Blackwidow, Tanker E53 stationed at Porterville. Tanker E35 a F 15 similar (sort of) to the P 61 flew out of Fresno in the early 60’s. At one time if it had wings and power to left 600 gallons of retardant (some less) it was converted to an air tanker. B 18 Bolo was such an airplane converted by H&P. For over two decades a Super PBY E84 was assigned to Columbia AAB, Ca., outstanding service. Slow, accurate, hear it coming for miles(“when is it going to get here”?) heavy timber canopy, watch out! Dr. Gabbert was probably on a few fire in So.Cal H.V. PBY tanker 59?

    1. Johnny, I don’t know about T-59, but I got dropped on by quite a few PBYs.

      I just added a photo, above, of T-84 that I took in the early 1970s. I think it was taken at Redding.

  4. The twin next to the “Y” is a C 46. The picture was probably taken at Redding. The C 46 was referred by the jumpers as the flying ballroom. Anything would seem larger than a ride backwards on the floor of a cramped twin beech. May be an old jumper could fill in some history of the C 46?

  5. Back in my early years in aviation, I had the privilege of oiling that C-46
    in La Grande, I think it was based in Troutdale, Or. for a while. Gott a picture of it at the old Jumper base in La Grande.. This was about the time they were transitioning to B-99’s and Twin Otters…
    Seem to remember Ted Hurd and Ken Cavin as the crew…

  6. The PBY was truly a utility airplane. One variant was adding two Lycoming 480 horizontally opposed engines outboard of the radials. Dr. Forrest Bird (heart-lung) owned the aircraft, NBIRD. The reason, other than too much time and money was to increase single engine safety and increase the range to 3000 miles. Dr. Forrest like to take long slow trips. PBY for all its “faults” is still one of my favorite air tankers.

  7. Some great info on this site, also good to see a C-46 in the background! Can anyone confirm that it was definitely used for smoke jumping?

    Many thanks!

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