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Avalon, California
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August 15, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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August 15, 2014
 

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Watson From page 1 about half the month of August left toga. In full disclosure, I am not a registered charity or 501(c)(3), so this won't be tax deductible. Secondly, if you happen to be in the Torrance area tomorrow, you can swing by the Torrance Airport, or Zamperini Field as it is called in honor of the late Louis Zamperini, where I will be giving a lecture on Catalina's seaplane history and showing scenes from my documentary "Wings Across the Channel." The show begins at 11 a.m. at 3315 Airport Drive in Torrance and will last about an hour. Did someone say seaplanes? Speaking of seaplanes, I thought it might be nice in this week's column to cover one of the mys- terious questions about our sea- plane history out here at Catalina, namely why the sea- planes stopped coming to Catalina after more than 70 years. We haven't had any significant scheduled seaplane service out here since the early 1980s, but it's a ques- tion that we still get asked from time to time out here. On May 10, 1912, a seaplane flew out to Catalina for the very first time in history piloted by aviation legend Glenn Martin. Not only was it the first airplane to fly to Catalina, it literally was the first time in world history that an airplane had taken off from wa- ter (Newport Beach) and landed ug mrr r00uamaaK Jim Watson Columnist on water (Avalon Bay). In other words, the whole concept of what you think about when you hear the word "sea- plane" started right here at Catalina. For the next seven de- cades, Catalina enjoyed a roller coaster ride of var- ious seaplanes and sea- plane companies provid- ing transportation to the island. Then, just as the industry was reaching its pinnacle at Catalina in the 1970s, it abruptly came to an end. With few exceptions, the work- horse of the seaplane fleet for most of the 1950s through the '70s was the venerable Grumman Goose. But by the late 1970s, the fleet of Gooses was falling into greater and greater disrepair. Built mostly in the 1930s, the planes used here at Catalina had seen decades of hard use, some of it in wartime, and nearly all of it, of course, in salt water. Replacement parts were getting harder and harder to come by and some of the Gooses used by local airlines were not even allowed to land at Long Beach Airport be- cause of their corroded landing gear. These planes were only al- lowed to make water take-offs and landings in Los Angeles Harbor and off Pebbly Beach here on the Island. To compound the situation, seaplane pilots--a special breed of pilot--were becoming fewer in number. In most of the rest of the world, the seaplane had been in decline since the end of World War II due to the increasing num- ber of land-based airfields being built worldwide. The rising cost of airfare also contributed to the demise of sea- plane service. For decades, a ticket on seaplane had only cost slightly more than a trip on the steamer. But starting in the late '70s, that difference began to grow larger because of a rising fuel prices and an increasingly litigious society. Much of that litigation, in fact, was the result of the most visible factor that helped bring seaplane service on Catalina to an end: ac- cidents. Unfortunately, there were in- creasing numbers of fatal and non- fatal Goose crashes in the 1970s that received wide publicity. In 1979, in fact, there were two high profile Goose crashes in the waters around Avalon within six months of each other, each resulting in a single fatality. The last of the big-time sea- plane operators to provide service tO Catalina was Trans-Catalina, which operated not only land- based planes but also used the sis- ter plane to the Grumman Goose, the Grumman Mallard. But by 1982, even they had thrown in the towel and the end of the scheduled passenger service seaplane era had ended, Visit Santa Rosa Island with the Conservancy Join the Catalina Island Conservancy as it returns to explore California's second larg- est Channel Island, Santa Rosa on Sunday, September 14. At over 93 square miles in size. Santa Rosa is filled with rolling hills, deep canyons and wide beaches. The island's rela- tively low profile is broken by a high, central mountain range, ris- ing 1,589 feet at its highest point. Learn more about the island with Conservancy biologists and staff. The island supports a diverse array of plant and animal spe- cies some of which can be found nowhere else in the world. Reservations are limited. Please indicate if you would like Roast Beef, Turkey or a Vegetarian meal when registering. Please bring your own beverages in plastic or metal containers. i EVERY MONDAY & TUESDAY 11AM- 3PM JULY 7-AUGUST 26 Featuring work from local arrias and phoeographen: I. . JULY 7 & 8 JULY 28 & 29 AUGUST 18 & 19 t Kirsten Olson Maryana Espe Wagor Irene Horiuchi - Alfred Tse Carolyn Ryclen Ying tiu Kelly Skoff AUGUST 4 & 5 AUGUST 25 & 26 JULY 14 & IS Talyana Fogady Esther Williams Fay Wyles Laurie Hendricks tinda Gunn Fiona Pn ,A  JULY 21 & 22 Mark Fehlman AUGUST ! I & 12 Eddie Yerkish Jim Wodark Linda bawler 119 SUMNER AVE VISITCATAUNAISlAND.COM SANTA CATAL1NA' p" ISLAND COMPANY 31o.51o.741o VisitCatalinaIsland.com ..... - .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................  ................................. 8 i Friday, August 15, 2014 THE CATAUNA ISLANDER