Posted by: Waring Hills | 21 June 2011

PBY’s Fly Non-stop 3,292 Miles In 1937

VP-3 PBY-1's in 1937. (Photo from the R.L.Lawson collection, courtesy of the Nat'l Museum of Naval Aviation)

Twelve PBY-1 Catalina aircraft from Patrol Squadron 3 (VP-3) flew 3,292 miles nonstop from San Diego, California, to Coco Solo in the Canal Zone on 21 June 1937. Under the command of Lieutenant Robert Morse, the Catalinas were in the air for 27 hours and 58 minutes.

VP-2 participates in the dedication of the Golden Gate Bridge on 27 May 1937 (Photo from the R.L.Lawson collection, courtesy of the Nat'l Museum of Naval Aviation).

PBYs had been just been accepted by the Navy in 1936. The PBY designation stood for Patrol Bomber (PB) Consolidated (Y for the Manufacturer).

PBY Catalina moored with a sea anchor (Photo US Navy)

PBY’s would become the most recognized seaplane in the world and during World War II would serve in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most successful seaplane of all time and no other flying boat was produced in greater numbers . Total production would be 4,051 aircraft. The last active military PBYs were retired from service in the 1980s. Even today, over 70 years after its first flight, PBYs continue to fly as air tankers in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.

PBY dropping water on fire site (Photo courtesy of

Here is a short historical look at the PBY found on YouTube…



  1. My Great Uncle, John Heath served on a PBM-5 and was part of VP-27. His plane was lost on a night strike mission over the sea of japan Aug 7-8, 1945. I’m interested in learning more about his mission. Where should I look to research his final days and possibly more about what happened to his aircraft? Any information would be most appreciated. Warm Regards



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