Monday, 18 May 2009

Now that's a wing

I'm more used to seeing a Cessna wing when I look out of the window, but a week or so ago I got the chance to fly Plane Sailing's Catalina out of Duxford. Although I had a good look at the aeroplane on the ground, the size of the wing (and engine) sitting just above and behind my right-hand shoulder was still surprising.

The handling was on the ponderous side of slow and the controls needed significant force in order get the thing moving in any direction. That said, it didn't take too long to learn to anticipate the need for a bootful of rudder or a heave on the ailerons. The Cat's handling grows on you, as does the admiration for the young crews who operated them in wartime. There's lots of great stuff on the web detailing some of the rescues carried out by this remarkable aeroplane.

If you want to get involved with the aeroplane you can buy a share: 1/20th will cost you £17,500. Monthly dues are currently set at £150 and for that you get the right to buy three hours at cost (£600). The Duxford Catalina is a working aeroplane, and with displays all over Europe you may well get some free hours en route if you are suitably qualified/checked out. It's expensive, but probably the cheapest way there is of getting to fly a very special warbird.

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