They don’t name it the ‘Golden Age of Journey’ for nothing. If you happen to thought you have been having early signs of the pre-summer journey bug, this may absolutely end you off. Discovered deep inside LIFE journal’s archives, introducing “the flying yacht” …
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Maintain the telephone! A flying yacht in 1950?! Or an amphibious airplane, relying in your choice. We’re trying on the pictures of LIFE veteran Loomis Dean, who was invited aboard this luxurious post-war conversion of a consolidated PBY Catalina, one of the vital versatile airplanes used within the Second World Battle. Earlier than it was internet hosting blondes in polka dot bikinis, it served as a patrol bomber and submarine killer.
After the battle, an entrepreneur by the title of Glenn Odekirk noticed a brand new future for the roomy Catalinas as excessive luxurious flying yachts. They have been to be the epitome of glamorous journey that he referred to as Landseaire.
“It appeared like nobody was getting actual utility out of a non-public airplane”, Odekirk was quoted in a Flight journal article in 1953. “Usually, it’s only a technique of transportation wherein you experience from right here to there with various levels of consolation. So, I made a decision to construct an aerial luxurious yacht in which you’ll be able to land and stay virtually anyplace on the earth with all of the comforts of dwelling.”
In fact, with your personal personal (amphibious) jet, one should arrive in type…
With loads of leisurely video games to go the time…
Scrap that! Who wants card video games when you might have panoramic views from the sky!
Not your common stop-over I think about!
The person behind the flying yacht, Glenn Odekirk, is pictured right here on the left, aboard his dingy, which might have been fastened beneath the wing throughout flight. He invited some fellow executives from the Southern California Plane Corp., relations and two enticing blonde aspiring actresses to lure the curiosity of the LIFE journal digital camera lens. The day spent sightseeing alongside San Diego’s coast was meant to generate publicity for Oderkirk, who hoped to promote his planes to rich American industrialists.
Noise is stored to a remarkably low degree by a 4in-thick lining of Fiberglass. A Landseaire prices some huge cash—$265,000 is the fundamental worth— one thing not far in need of £100,000. This, coupled with heavy working prices, just about lifts the craft past the attain even of most millionaires. “
(As we speak, that’s roughly $2.5 million)
Now what sort of flying yacht would it not be with out a fully-stocked bar?
It’s time to take her up.
“Sleeping lodging is offered for eight individuals in three double beds and two singles. Close to every mattress are a person gentle, radio change and speaker, curtains, vents for air con system, and a phone. Occupants might contact the shore by the use of a marine ship-to-shore phone. Along with this merchandise of ‘electrickery’, the transformed plane are fitted with no fewer than seven communications receivers, two transmitters, a broadcast receiver, FM-AM radio and a built-in tv set!”
“General carpeting provides additional to the consolation. A bathe tub, in waterproof plastic, runs cold and hot water. The w.c. is electrically flushed when on water; within the air a chemical rest room is used. The galley, in white porcelain and stainless-steel, rivals the tools of essentially the most trendy kitchen. A 3-plate cooking vary, oven, massive fridge and frozen-food unit are put in. “
Pancakes on a aircraft? Why the hell not.
Don’t neglect to place it in cruise management!
Everyone had a very good night time’s sleep?!
Hopefully no one suffers from each jet lag and sea-sickness …
And as spacious because the Catalina is, there are probabilities you may begin to drive one another mad…
Readmore: Itineraries | Coast Swimming
Quickly it’s time to land…
… and put her safely again in her hangar.
The Catalina Curse …
So what turned of the glamorous Catalina from these images? I’m unhappy to say it crashed in a touchdown accident close to Ubatuba, Brazil and was broken past restore on July fifth in 1953. I’m unsure what number of planes Oderkirk managed to promote after that, however to today, a really small variety of Catalinas stay in airworthy situation. Within the late Fifties, a slightly harrowing incident involving a Catalina transformed airborne yacht turned considerably of a cautionary story for the rich clientele of such extravagant toys…
A rich Californian industrialist, Thomas W. Kendall, who had been impressed by Oderkirk’s flying yachts and needed to maintain busy throughout his retirement, determined to buy a dozen PBY WWII Catalinas to transform to luxurious amphibious flying machines. You’re his useful work…
In 1959, alongside together with his spouse and kids, he determined to check one in all his creations on a year-long world-wide tour. In Egypt, they have been joined by one other LIFE photographer, David Lees, and carried on all the way down to the Strait of Tirana, between Egypt’s Sinai and Saudi Arabia.
It was right here that their dream voyage would flip right into a dwelling nightmare when the household and their friends have been instantly ambushed on the seashore by armed Bedouin tribesmen serving within the Saudi Arabian military. Regardless of Kendall’s claims that that they had hoisted their American flag above the pilot’s compartment that morning, the Bedouin troopers allegedly suspected the Kendalls have been Israeli commandos in disguise.
The harrowing ambush is described on this gripping account written for LIFE journal by Thomas Kendall himself:
After a late lunch I went up on the wing to test the left engine. Bob was within the water checking some tools within the nostril. Stephen and Paul have been wading within the shallows about 60 toes away, enjoying with our vivid blue rubber life raft. Everybody else was within the aircraft. Once I lastly buttoned up the engine, I stood up and glanced round. Aside from the boys, I noticed nothing however rocks, low hills and empty sand. I checked out my watch. It was 4:32 precisely. Then I heard what appeared like distant firecrackers. My first thought was that some native Bedouins have been celebrating the Muslim vacation of Ramadan, which was then in progress. In Luxor, Egypt, our final cease, that they had celebrated by firing off a cannon. Out of the blue, I observed little splashes within the water beside the rubber raft. Anyone was capturing on the kids …
As I ran I shouted for everybody to lie down on the ground as a result of we have been beneath fireplace. Mrs. Shearer ran with me to the tail and we watched our small sons dog-paddling very slowly towards the hatch, simply their heads above water, towing the raft for canopy between themselves and the bullets…
By now machine-gun and automatic-weapons fireplace was hitting the aircraft, I don’t know the way lengthy we stood there screaming on the kids to rush—it felt like eons…
The ambush lasted 30 to 40 minutes, and solely the cowardice of our attackers saved our lives. If that they had come nearer as an alternative of hiding behind a knoll three quarters of a mile away, I’m sure we’d all have been killed.
After some time we noticed the upholstery was smoldering from a tracer bullet. I knew gasoline have to be leaking in all places. I may both stand as much as begin the engines and perhaps get shot, or I may keep on the ground and perhaps get us all burned alive. Once I obtained as much as go to the pilot’s compartment to throw some switches so we may get out of there, there was one other burst of fireside and I felt a blow in the appropriate facet. The bullet entered slightly below my ribs and it spun me round and threw me about six toes. I fell down backward. When Mrs. Shearer heard me grunt that I’d been hit, she raised her head to take a look at me. Simply then a bullet hit her proper arm, precisely the place her head had been. She clawed a giant chunk of metallic out along with her fingernails however there have been two extra items she couldn’t attain. I used to be dazed for a second however she gave me a towel after which, one way or the other, mendacity on her again, she lifted the seat up so I may attain beneath and join the batteries. Then I went ahead to the cockpit to throw the switches.
The total article has been scanned and will be discovered right here.
The Saudi Arabian authorities by no means accepted duty for the ambush, for the Kendall’s accidents, or for the property misplaced.
Greater than 50 years on, the ambushed flying yacht (what’s left of it) remains to be the place the Kendalls have been pressured to desert it.
(Photographed by Ken Stanford)
A lot for the Golden Age of Journey.
Archive photographs by LIFE journal and f urther studying on Classic Wings