Catalina Seaplane, The Flying Yachts

by Janet Elizabeth Lynn

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled  series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year's Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

We discovered that  Charlie Chaplin’s half-brother Syd began the first seaplane service to Catalina in 1919. It operated only for a couple of summers, when other firms moved in to operate the service until 1931.
Researching Catalina in the 1950s we found that getting to Avalon was usually by ship but a seaplane also had regularly scheduled flights to the island. The Grumman G-21 Goose,  twin-engined amphibious  aircraft designed to serve as an eight-seat "commuter" aircraft for business. During World War II, the Goose transported US military (including the United States Coast Guard). During hostilities, the Goose took on an increasing number of combat and training roles.

However, our story needed a mode of transportation for the wealthy Wright family to use for travel to and from the island in style and speed. their extravagance attracting suspicions by the police. We found the converted Consolidated PBY.  It was a twin-engined aircraft used during World War II. The American-designed flying boat was first developed as a patrol bomber for the defense of American coastlines and the Pacific Ocean. It was utilized as in reconnaissance, bomber, submarine killer, liaison transport and as an Air Sea Rescue aircraft.

The PBY was called the “Catalina” by the British first and the “Canso” by Canadians who built them in two plants in Canada. Total production at the close of the PBY assembly lines was 3,281. After the war, surplus Catalinas were converted for civilian, passenger and corporate use.

Wealthy civilians converted the former PBYs to amphibious yachts for their personal use. Perfect for the characters in our book.

SLICK DEAL is the fourth book in the series, and yes we are still married.

Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn
Website:  Will Zeilinger       


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