Major Fundraiser For PBY Catalina Restoration Project

By KBJR News 1

September 10, 2011 Updated Sep 10, 2011 at 10:35 PM CDT

Hermantown, MN - (The Northland's News Center)-A major push in fundraising was held for the PBY Catalina restoration project at the Commemorative Air Force museum today.

It's a significant part of our Nations history.

"There was just short of four–thousand of these aircraft built, there's forty left in the world, there's only 16 that still fly...we own two of them," says Commemorative Air Force's Executive Officer, DeWayne Tomasek.

This weekend, the Commemorative Air Force hangar opened its doors to the public in hopes of generating funding for the renovation of the historic PBY Catalina World War Two aircraft.

Which as officials will tell you, is not an easy task.

"It takes a lot of time, a lot of talented people...and a lot of money. Emphasis on the last part," Tomasek says.

This type of plane was first built in 1936, and served with every branch of the U–S military.

Today the Commemorative Air Force–Lake Superior Squadron 101 hosted a major fund raising event titled "Operation: Wind Beneath Our Wings."

"The primary goal here is to raise money to continue to restore are WWII consolidated PBY Airplane," said Public Information Officer for The Lake Superior Squadron 101, John Hosler.

The event had Airplane Rides & Showcases featuring the B–13 & L–5 historic war planes.

1940's–to–1960's music was played as lunch and dinner was catered in...along with a Silent and Live Auction.

Restoration on the plane began in 2009–and has over 150–thousand dollars in renovations so far...and will take roughly another 250–thousand to get it back into the air.

But, once it's ready, officials have some pretty big plans for the aircraft.

"Timeline we're looking about three more years and we're gonna do a flyby over the city, we're planning on landing in the bay, go to sky harbor...take off again," Tomasek says.

An event that will surely be historical.

"For us to be able to restore this airplane brings back memories for thousands and thousands and thousands of WWII veterans who are dying everyday," Hosler said.

Hosler says they hope the renovation will help to educated younger generations of the planes historical significance, as well as what the veterans before them have done for their county.