Lake Macquarie aviation enthusiast Steve Wenban creates replica of same Catalina he is restoring

Lake Macquarie aeromodeller and aviation enthusiast Steve Wenban has always loved watching the models he builds take flight and soar sky high.

Mr Wenban, a member of the Wybung Soaring Club, has been using his time in isolation to build a replica scale model of a PBY-5A Catalina.

It is the same aircraft model, but on a full-sized scale, that Mr Wenban has spent several months restoring at Kilaben Bay, just across the water from the former RAAF Rathmines flying boat base.

"I've been an aeromodeller for 53 years and have been around aircraft for most of my life," Mr Wenban said.

"Model planes led me to a career in aerospace with Hawker de Havilland and Boeing.

"I have really enjoyed the challenge of building the model Catalina, which will be an exact replica of the real-life aircraft that I am helping to restore.

"It will take another two months to complete, but it's been a great way to pass the time while in isolation."

PROJECT: The full-sized PBY-5A Catalina that Mr Wenban has been helping to restore.

PROJECT: The full-sized PBY-5A Catalina that Mr Wenban has been helping to restore.

Mr Wenban is one of four aircraft sheet metal workers currently restoring the PBY-5A Catalina at Kilaben Bay, along with a team of other dedicated members with various skill sets.

It is hoped the aircraft will form the centrepiece of a proposed Catalina hangar in Rathmines. Mr Wenban also hopes that the model Catalina will take pride of place in the hangar.

"I am honoured to be working on the Catalina but it has also been a lot of fun building a replica scale model of the full-size aircraft", he said.

"The model I'm working on has a wingspan of 2.65 metres with a fuselage length of 1.63 metres. It's a standard fully sheeted balsa build that I am covering in .006 Lithographic plate with simulated rivets all made one at a time.

"The wing will not take long as it's all flat panels. Once completed it will be used at displays run by the Rathmines Catalina Association, such as the Catalina Festival.

"I hope it will be on permanent display with the PBY-5A in a purpose-built hangar proposed for the original RAAF WWII Rathmines Base on Lake Macquarie as a tribute to all the servicemen and women who served on the base during that time."

Mr Wenban is a member of the Model Aeronautical Association of Australia, which is the largest aeromodelling organisation in Australia and encourages and supports Australians to enjoy aeromodelling in a safe and fun environment.

To find a NSW model flying club go to nsw.aeromodellers.org.au/find-a-club.

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