WWII Flying Boat Lands at RAF Leeming

Personnel at Royal Air Force Leeming welcomed the UK’s oldest seaplane (Catalina) on station as part of the Project Hawker Circuit of Britain flight.

Project Hawker 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of the Circuit of Britain challenge held in 1913 for the first pilot to fly around Britain by waterplane. Australian pilot Harry Hawker flew more than 1000 miles before crashing just north of Dublin. This was the longest distance flown over water at the time and a significant landmark in aviation history.

RAF Leeming Station Commander, Group Captain Steve Reeves (Right)

To commemorate Harry Hawker’s inspirational flight, the oldest airworthy amphibian still flying in the UK – the Catalina G-PBYA flew the 1913 route as closely as possible over a five day period. The Catalina’s voyage raised funds for the RAF’s leading welfare charity – Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund (RAFBF),

The Catalina and crew were welcomed on arrival by RAF Leeming Station Commander, Group Captain Steve Reeves. He said: “We’ve been delighted to host the Catalina and her crew here at RAF Leeming on this historic flight. Their arrival brought a great sense of excitement and it has been a marvellous opportunity for everyone to see such a wonderful aircraft.”

Also there to greet the arrival of the Catalina was Brad Brown (11) and his family. Brad, a young aviation enthusiast who has bravely fought against Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia over recent years, was given the opportunity to go on board the Catalina and meet the crew, as well as visiting various units on station.

Brad Brown (Yellow t-shirt) with Family and Jeff Boyling (Project Hawker).

His father Peter said: “RAF Leeming has made a huge impression on us all and we have been really impressed by everyone’s professionalism and enthusiasm.”

Before the Catalina’s departure from RAF Leeming, local youth groups Stepping Stones Nursery and Airplay were also given the opportunity to board the aircraft as part of their summer holiday activities.

This year also marks 70th anniversary of the Catalina aircraft, which was used by the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII. More than 3,300 were produced and this is the only remaining airworthy Catalina in the UK. The Catalina is now operated by Plane Sailing Air Display Ltd.

The Catalina at RAF Leeming

Project Hawker organiser, Australian Jeff Boyling of the Plane Sailing Air Display team said: “Harry Hawker was a great Australian in terms of pioneering aviation. We are doing this flight in commemoration of his Circuit of Britain effort and also to raise money and awareness for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund (RAFBF). It’s a pleasure and a great honour to fly something as historic as this.”


Editor: Jon Sibley


RAF Leeming Station Commander, Group Captain Steve Reeves (Right).

RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013