A CONVERTED US naval seaplane, which flew from Sydney to Broome, stopped in Ceduna on April 25 for a brief visit and fuel stop.
The Gruman Albatross HU16/G111 is a former naval plane, which has been converted for commercial purposes and is one of only two existing in the world.
It is the largest commercial seaplane in the world, possessing 3000 horsepower, a wingspan of 33 metres from wingtip to wingtip and can seat 23 but is rated for 28 people.
The plane, originally based in Miami, was flown to Salt Lake City where it was inspected and received a paint job, before flying to Palm Beach to be shipped to Australia.
Owner Mack McCormack acquired the plane from the United States and said he has planned the cross-country flight to mark an important anniversary.
“We are marking the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin and Pearl Harbour, as well as the Japanese bombing raid, which destroyed 5 Catalina craft in Roebuck Bay in Broome,” he said.
The Gruman Albatross took over from the Catalina following World War Two and once the plane reached Perth the plane flew to Broome to visit Catalina bases, which were used to transport people during the war.
American pilot Rob Bish, from Ventura California, flew the plane for the trip.
Mr McCormack said he has future plans for the plane once they reached Broome.
“Were are bringing it to Western Australia to operate out of Broome for tourism purposes,” he said.
Mr McCormack plans to fly to areas such as the Kimberlys, Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef, Prince Region and to open up Rowley Shoals to more people.
Mr McCormack said to do a trip like this normally is quite expensive.
“While people would need to pay up to $20,000 for a tour like this, we plan to operate as a day trip at $1000 a head, and if they wish to stay at a location they can break travel and arrange accommodation,” he said.
One particular destination targeted by Mr McCormack is Rowley Shoals, which is located 300 kilometres off of Broome and is only accessible by boat.
Mr McCormack said this he has other tourism ideas for the plane, which will benefit WA.
“ I think it will be very good for WA tourism in the long run,” he said.