Historic PBY Catalina aircraft on display at the Pikes Peak Airshow

COLORADO SPRINGS — Residents of Colorado Springs hear the roar of propellers and crackling engines as the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show kicks off this weekend.

FOX21 got to take flight in a piece of history, aboard a PBY Catalina aircraft that is part of this year’s air show.

“The WWII veterans, especially the Navy veterans, absolutely loved this plane because this plane got them out of the ocean. This plane spotted submarines. This plane would do long patrols and would save their lives if they were shot down over the ocean,” said BPY Catalina pilot Ian Wayman.

Due to their long-range flight capabilities, the PBY Catalinas were one of the primary patrol bombers during the war.

“They originally had about 20 to 24 hours of flight fuel on board, so they do very long patrols in the underwing compartment. They actually had a galley with a stove, with a fridge,” Wayman said.

Planes were also equipped with bunk beds at the time, as crews spent long periods on board.

These aircraft were used in World War II for multiple roles and are known as the American Flying Boat. The water plane was mainly used for search and rescue missions, night attacks, bombing missions and anti-submarine warfare.

“And they were 18, 19 and 20 year old kids flying them all the time in World War II. I had the biggest smile on my face flying it not only because of the history involved, but it’s a cool plane,” Wayman said.

PBY Catalina aircraft were used for search and rescue missions for years after the war. The last active military PBYs were retired from service in the 1980s.

At this year’s Pikes Peak Airshow, more than fifty aircraft are on display, including the latest jets as well as vintage warbirds.

Headlining the air show were the US Air Force’s F-35 Lightning display team and the US Air Force Academy Wings of Blue jumping out of a WWII-era B-17 bomber.

This year, the Pikes Peak Regional Airshow Board of Directors, Colorado Springs Sports Corporation and the National WWII Aviation Museum have teamed up to bring different experiences and resources, elevating the show to new heights.

Carol N. Valencia