Taken in 1950 by legendary photographer Loomis Dean for LIFE magazine, these images show a post-war PBY Catalina flying boat converted into a luxury flying yacht.
An entrepreneur by the name of Glenn Odekirk saw a new future for the roomy Catalinas as extreme luxury flying yachts. They were to be the epitome of glamorous travel that he called “Landseaire” (land-sea-air). Odekirk saw that most private operations weren’t getting full usage from their transport by virtue of the fact that it only transported them to land airstrips, and accommodation would be required wherever one ended up. Odekirk was quoted in a Flight magazine article in 1953 saying “… normally, it’s just a means of transportation in which you ride from here to there with varying degrees of comfort. So, I decided to build an aerial luxury yacht in which you can land and live almost anywhere in the world with all the comforts of home.”
According to Flight (1953), the $265,000 Catalina ($4.5 million) provided sleeping accommodation for eight persons in three double beds and two singles. Near each bed are an individual light, radio switch and speaker, curtains, vents for air conditioning system, and a telephone. Occupants may contact the shore by means of a marine ship-to-shore telephone. In addition to what was described as “electrickery”, the converted aircraft were fitted with no fewer than seven communications receivers, two transmitters, a broadcast receiver, FM-AM radio and a built-in television set.
The aircraft in these images was destroyed beyond repair on July 5th, 1953, in an accident near Ubatuba, Brazil. Further accidents involving the Catalina converted airborne yacht became somewhat of a cautionary tale for other interested parties, and the venture never gained serious traction.
Yes, we want one.
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