WIX Archives

Re: Speaking of Catalinas

Posted by Ryan Keough on Mon Mar 08, 2004 01:45:56 AM

In reply top Speaking of Catalinas posted by Rob Mears on Sun Mar 07, 2004 10:14:46 PM

Like Mark said, it was the Bird Innovator, see Budd Davidsons article on it at: http://www.airbum.com/articles/ArticleBirdPBY.html

... and the Innovator is no more as this article describes:


"Pacific-Flyer 2-3/99:


To fans of the Consolidated PBY Catalina, there is no more unusual version of this amphibious workhorse than the Bird Innovator.

What makes this PBY so different from all others? Instead of the usual two engines, it had four: two 1,350-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830s and two supercharged Lycoming GS0-480s from an Aero Commander.

Manufactured in 1941, Catalina Model 28-5ACF (s/n 417) spent the war with No. 162 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force. After being surplused, it was civilianized and purchased by the Bird Corp. of Palm Springs, Calif.

A series of engine problems convinced the new owners that the PBY could use a little backup in the power department, so Bird engineered the installation of the two Lycomings outboard of the two radials. Bird operated the plane from 1967 to 1977 as a flying sales office and classroom for the medical equipment it sold.

After the Innovator was sold, the one-of-a-kind Catalina spent the next two decades with various owners, mostly in Florida and later, Albuquerque, N.M. In 1997, it was purchased by Ron Ruble of Aurora, Ore.

Although he liked the plane's paint job and executive interior, Ruble (an ATP pilot with a list of ratings a foot long) was less enthusiastic about the second set of engines. They made the plane too heavy and too complicated to operate, so he had Vintage Aircraft Restoration Co. in Aurora remove the Lycomings, as well as the reversible Hartzell props, fuel lines, oil tanks and fire extinguishers that went with them.

All that remains before N5PY takes to the air again as a stock Catalina is to patch up the wings, removing the last traces of the third and fourth engines that made it famous as the Bird Innovator.

Submitted by Harper Poling"

Ryan Keough

: Does anyone recall a PBY that received publicity a decade
: or so ago which was outfitted with a couple of large horiz
: ontally opposed engines outboard of its radials? It was n
: icely finished in an attractive civilian scheme.
: This plane has crossed my mind more than a couple of times
: over the years and I've always wondered what became of it
: . I've also been curious about how its performance was en
: hanced with the addition of the extra engines, as well as
: how that installation might have affected the sterss limit
: ations on the airframe. Any one have any clues about this
: one?

Airbum.com - Bird Innovator

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