Aviation Historian 27
-
B.Livingstone - The Longest Hop (1)
Consolidated Model 28-3 NC777, named Guba (actually Guba II) at Rose Bay, Sydney, before its epic flight from Western Australia across the Indian Ocean to Kenya in June 1939. The flying-boat, which later served with BOAC as G-AGBJ Guba, then flew on to the USA to complete the first circumnavigation of the globe by seaplane.
Built at Vancouver by Boeing Aircraft of Canada as part of the Mutual Aid Scheme, Catalina IVB JX287 went straight into BOAC service in March 1944 as G-AGKS, and that May became the last example to join the “Double Sunrise” fleet.
Catalina Altair Star is inspected before another 3,510-mile (5,650km) non-stop flight across the Indian Ocean, by some margin the longest non-stop regular passenger flight made up to that time. When the service was closed in July 1945, the Catalinas had completed a remarkable 271 crossings, carrying a total of 648 passengers.
Two QEA Catalinas - G-AGFM and G-AGIE - at the rather primitive facilities at Nedlands. All five were scuttled off the Australian coast in late 1945, Hudson Fysh calling it “a dismal fate for these splendid 'boats which for two long years saw us through our most hazardous operation ever, without accident or mishap of any kind”.
Bearing its fleet number, “3”, below the tailplane, Catalina IVA G-AGID Rigel Star is prepared for its next Indian Ocean crossing at Nedlands, Perth. Originally given the RAF serial JX575, this San Diego-built example was transferred straight to BOAC in March 1943, after which it was converted and delivered to Qantas that September.
Catalina G-AGFM Altair Star rises on to the step during take-off from Koggala Lake. The RAF’s Catalina IBs, powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp air-cooled radial engines, were supplied against Lend-Lease requisitions, as were the two IVAs and sole IVB also used on Qantas’s wartime Indian Ocean service.
Consolidated Catalina IB FP244 (c/n 831) was one of a batch of 225 delivered between July 1942 and February 1943. Never allocated to an RAF squadron, it went to BOAC on October 27, 1942, with the British civil registration G-AGFM. It is seen here at Koggala Lake on the southern tip of Ceylon
A detail from the certificate awarded to those travelling on what came to be known as the “Double Sunrise” service between Perth and Ceylon, who experienced two sunrises on each flight. The text reads: “This is to certify that (name) has spent more than 24 hours continuously in the air on a regular air service, thus entitling him to membership of the rare and Secret Order of the Double Sunrise”.