Search

Historic Catalina seaplane to put on airshow over Gorleston beach

PUBLISHED: 09:58 02 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:02 02 August 2013

Not a happy landing after problems caused Hawker's Sopworth seaplane to come ashore at Gorleston in 1913

Not a happy landing after problems caused Hawker's Sopworth seaplane to come ashore at Gorleston in 1913

Archant

When a 70-year-old seaplane soars over Gorleston beach later this month it will mark 100 years since pioneering pilots went on an aeronautical adventure.

Pilot Jeff Boyling who will be recreating a 1913 around the country flight using a Catalina amphibian plane. Pictured at Gorleston beach close to the spot where a plane crash landed.
Project Hawker 2013. 100th Anniversary Circuit of Britain Commemorative Flight.

Picture: James BassPilot Jeff Boyling who will be recreating a 1913 around the country flight using a Catalina amphibian plane. Pictured at Gorleston beach close to the spot where a plane crash landed. Project Hawker 2013. 100th Anniversary Circuit of Britain Commemorative Flight. Picture: James Bass

The Catalina G-PBYA “Miss Pick Up” - the UK’s oldest airworthy amphibian plane, will be performing an air display over the east coast on Wednesday, August 21.

The show is part of Project Hawker, a celebration of a 1913 Round Britain race which saw Australian aviation pioneer Harry Hawker land his Sopworth seaplane on Gorleston sands. As reported in April, fellow Australian pilot Jeff Boyling is commemorating the centenary of Hawker’s flight by recreating the journey.

Hawker and his mechanic Harry Kauper never finished the race - a challenge to circumnavigate Britain set by the Daily Mail newspaper, but Boyling and his team from the Imperial War Museum (IWM) Duxford in Cambridgeshire will follow the path Hawker plotted all those years ago.

When he flies over Gorleston in a few weeks time, he will remember the day Hawker and Kauper made an unscheduled landing on the beach.

Project Hawker 2013 will recreate this 1913 flight around Britain's coastProject Hawker 2013 will recreate this 1913 flight around Britain's coast

The pair were taking part in the Round Britain race to complete the first circumnavigation flight around Britain.

Four pilots took on the challenge, which had been set up the Daily Mail newspaper, but in the end only Australians Hawker and Kauper attempted the 1,450 mile journey.

They set off in a specially-built Sopwith Circuit float-plane in mid-August 1913 - a time when flying was in its infancy.

But after completing the stage leg of the journey from Ramsgate to Great Yarmouth, were forced to abandon their bid in Gorleston.

They were both suffering with sickness caused by fumes from a broken exhaust and sunstroke.

They tried again less than a fortnight later, stopping in Gorleston a second time, and this time getting as far as Dublin before engine problems forced them down after 1,000 miles.

Brisbane-born Mr Boyling travelled to Gorleston earlier this year to research the landings.

Speaking yesterday, he said final preparations for the epic centenary celebration were going well.

“Last week was hectic,” said Mr Boyling, “we were submitting all the display applications into the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA),”

“And the display requires organisation and, as such, there has been communication with others such as Captain Alex Murray, the deputy harbour master at East Port, Paddy Lee, station cox/mechanic of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI, and Inspector Rust of Norfolk Constabulary.

“We’ve also spoken to Paul Bayfield of the Lowestoft Air Festival who has been contacted to help spread the news to the aviation community.”

Mr Boyling said the crew were also grateful to Alan Carr, head of tourism at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, for his support towards the show and cost of fuel.

The Catalina won’t be landing at Gorleston as sea water is too corrosive for the plane that turned 70 years old in the past few weeks, but Mr Boyling said he would be flying low for people to see her up close.

And he is hopeful that a glimpse of the amphibious machine will inspire the younger generations to help 
keep the “golden age” of aviation alive.

For more information, including how to sponsor the August 21 to 26 flight, visit www.projecthawker2013.com.

The commemorative event will support two charities, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and IWM Duxford.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Great Yarmouth Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury