Not many Catalina flying boats are still in good working condition - but Miss Pick Up, the famous one that’s housed at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford is. Although it’s recently been revealed that it came perilously close to a watery demise at the end of last year, whilst being filmed for a new TV documentary up in Scotland.
Miss Pick Up has been featured in air shows all around the world, and before the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, it had been planned to feature at many more that were subsequently cancelled in the wake of restrictions. However, they were able to film in a couple of European locations last October and November, one of which was the stunning surroundings of Loch Ness.
However, the Catalina’s three man crew of David Legg (Crew Chief), Derek Head (Co-Pilot) and Paul Warren Wilson (Captain) were to run into difficulties when, after a day’s test filming, the boat was unable to take off again from the Loch the following day, with the failure of the starboard unit to activate it.
All of a sudden, in Legg’s words, “We now found ourselves in the difficult position of being in a large flying boat, adrift on a deep loch, at the mercy of the elements with no means of steering.”
What then followed was a mammoth task, with the combined efforts of the boat crew, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute’s Loch Ness volunteer team, and following a GoFundMe campaign when it became apparent that the costs of rescuing it from the Loch would far outweigh what it's shareholders put in each month, a crane was bought in to lift the boat onto a jetty that could take its weight.
Fortunately it was retrieved from joining the same fate as the fabled ‘Nessie’ on 1st December, and flew home to Duxford via Inverness a few days later. It’s still undergoing repair work as we speak, and the GoFundMe page is still live for anybody who wants to support towards its costs for repairs.
Hopefully the rest of this year will see Miss Pick Up return to flying the skies high at air shows around the world, and at FlyDays we wish all her crew success in completion of her repair and restoration!