Abandoned Seaplane: When Dreams Become Nightmares

Duffster’s posts on depression ravaged Detroit (which you can read here, here and here) and the pictures of abandoned houses got me scouring the web for more.

There’s something utterly fascinating about ghost towns, deserted structures and once populated and thriving areas now void of human activity and left to their fate. One of the best websites I came across during my search is called Artificial Owl, with photos and stories from around the world featuring “The most fascinating abandoned man-made creations”. Like the Rubjerg Knude lighthouse, for instance, now being gradually swallowed by advancing sand dunes in Jutland, Denmark.

Or the never completed flying saucer-like hotel project that was a victim of Taiwan’s real estate boom, and sudden bust, in the 1980s.

But the most fascinating story on Artificial Owl is the one behind an abandoned Catalina Flying Boat in Saudi Arabia.

Here’s the story from the Artificial Owl website…

The aircraft is a PBY-5A Catalina Flying Boat from the 1930s and was bought from the US Navy by Thomas W Kendall, a retired businessman who converted it to a luxury flying yacht. In the spring of 1960 Mr Kendall took a pleasure trip around the world with his wife and children together with his secretary and her son.

On the 22nd March 1960 they landed at the Strait of Tirana and anchored the aircraft a short distance from the shore to spend the night there. They heard someone shouting but did not pay any attention. In the afternoon of the following day they were attacked with machine guns and automatic firearms from a headland nearby.

The children were able to swim back to the aircraft. Mr Kendall and his secretary were wounded while trying to start the Catalina but moved it about 800 metres, unfortunately it ran aground on a coral reef. The firing lasted 30 to 40 minutes and no fewer than 300 shots hit the aircraft. The fuel tanks were perforated and 4000 litres of fuel poured from the holes but miraculously the aircraft did not catch fire.

The sea was only about 1.5 metres deep and all aboard managed to leave the aircraft and reach the shore. On the beach they were captured by a group of Bedouin attached to the Saudi Arabian army, who had taken them to be Israeli commandos.

They were eventually taken to Jeddah, interrogated and finally set free with the help of the American Ambassador. The Ambassador protested to the Saudi Arabian government but they refused to accept any liability for the attack and consequent loss of the aircraft.

The plane remains stranded on the beach to this day, a monument to one man’s dream retirement holiday turned nightmare. You can even see it on Google Maps by following this link… Crash Site

I notice it's been tagged. Who brings their spray cans to the desert?

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One Response

  1. May they all get MERS virus, karma is a bitch.

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