2014 Rathmines Catalina Festival


Story and Photos by Phil Buckley

In October 2014 a thrilling air display was conducted over Rathmines, where the annual Catalina Festival was being held. For $5 per person, around 7,000 people were able to see a range of aircraft taking part in the 3hr flying display.  The core event attraction saw the popular HARS Wollongong based WW2 era PBY-6A Catalina seaplane do a series of flypasts. Paul Bennet brought his agile and colourful Wolf Pitts Pro, Wirraway and Avenger for low and high level displays, along with his 3 ship Sky Aces aerobatic team who included Paul, Glenn Graham and Glenn Collins which kept the public fascinated and thrilled. Supporting the main displays was Mark Pracy in his L-39 Albatross, 3 Tigermoths from Luskintyre Airfield flown by Andrew Biggs, Vince Cronin and Niall Higgins, a gyrocopter flown by Jeff Blunt and 2 Tecnams flown by Phillip Murdoch and Keith McGepchie. Unfortunately the CAC Mustang flyby was cancelled due to a mechanical issue. Around 230pm the Seaplane Pilots Association members departed and the sky was full of Lake Buccaneers, Super Petrels and SeaReys, as they all flew past Rathmines. To satisfy the public hunger, various food stalls were provided. Other merchandise and local items were available across the park. Various artefacts, models, photos and memorabilia were put on display by the Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Association Inc. (RCMPA)inside the main hall. The Festival event was also another opportunity for the RCMPA to showcase its progress on their recently purchased Catalina. The arrival in early 2014 from South America of the final parts of the static Catalina airframe, has now enabled the local project to move ahead a bit more. Over the last year volunteers have started to repair and restore the airframe along with a range of the parts, some of which were on display and included a throttle quadrant, seat and a newly manufactured instrument panel.   The son of a former Rathmines Catalina pilot brought in to the organisers, his father’s flight log book and old photos of the Rathmines base during the war years. Seeing these valuable historic items is what the festival is about. The HARS loaned Catalina forward section was popular with visitors as it had an audio visual display running inside. Many hard working volunteers of the Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Association Inc and Catalina Festival deserve recognition for donating their time and efforts to make the fascinating and unique festival successful. This years event was run by Ian Mackey – ‘Cre8ing Growth’,  with Christoph Gremm.