Twelve PBY-1 Catalina aircraft from Patrol Squadron 3 (VP-3) flew 3,292 miles nonstop from San Diego, California, to Coco Solo in the Canal Zone on 21 June 1937. Under the command of Lieutenant Robert Morse, the Catalinas were in the air for 27 hours and 58 minutes.
PBYs had been just been accepted by the Navy in 1936. The PBY designation stood for Patrol Bomber (PB) Consolidated (Y for the Manufacturer).
PBY’s would become the most recognized seaplane in the world and during World War II would serve in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most successful seaplane of all time and no other flying boat was produced in greater numbers . Total production would be 4,051 aircraft. The last active military PBYs were retired from service in the 1980s. Even today, over 70 years after its first flight, PBYs continue to fly as air tankers in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.
Here is a short historical look at the PBY found on YouTube…