After four days of being half sunk and rocked by the surf on a sandbar near the Florida-Alabama state line, the Catalina PBY Flying boat was pulled from its resting place and towed out into deeper waters towards a salvage barge. An attempt to lift the aircraft aboard the barge via a crane caused the aircraft to crumple, destroying it totally.
You can see some video of the gorgeous airplane as salvage crews attempted to save it in the video linked below shot by local news station Fox 10. The aircraft was apparently restored specifically for the upcoming Nicholas Cage movie USS Indianapolis: Men of Honor. According to Fox 10’s report, a few scenes with actors aboard were able to be shot before the doomed salvage operation commenced.
It will be interesting to find out exactly what went wrong here. Catalinas, and most flying boats and seaplanes for that matter, are designed to be hoisted aboard barges and docks for service. Seeing how severe this structural failure was, it makes one wonder if it was an accident by the salvage company or some catastrophic defect in the aircraft’s structure that was found in the salvage process.
Here is also a pretty awesome quad-copter video of the PBY as it sat largely abandoned in the surf over the last few days. Although producers have commented that they are just thankful nobody was hurt, it is not a good start for production of the film, and it remains unclear how any other planned Catalina scenes will be shot.
It’s sad to see another classic flying boat meet its demise, especially for a Nicholas Cage film, of all things. Still, I guess since it was restored for the movie, it may have never flown at all without it. Hopefully the footage they did capture of it was pretty awesome.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.