Catalina seaplane case for Rathmines

A RESTORED Catalina seaplane is planned to be displayed at an open-air museum at the former Rathmines RAAF seaplane base.

Lake Macquarie City Council has completed a $60,000 feasibility study, which found a ‘‘state-of-the art museum’’ was not viable at the site.

Instead, the study found it was feasible to display the Catalina at ‘‘a museum without walls’’ and keep it in a ‘‘basic hangar’’.

Catalinas were made famous in World War II for defending Australia from Japanese invaders.

Councillors will vote today on a plan for the council to pay half the cost of a $70,000 business plan on housing an airworthy Catalina at the former Rathmines base.

They will consider supporting the Catalina Flying Memorial group, Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Trust and Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club to establish a hangar for a Catalina.

A Catalina at Bankstown is planned to be moved to Rathmines as a tourist attraction and for joy flights.

A council report said the Catalina Flying Memorial group must commit more than $5million to base and operate the plane at Rathmines.

The arrangement involves the council contributing $1million for an open-air museum and improvements to the shore.

Rezoning and development applications would be needed to operate a Catalina at the site, the report said.

‘‘In effect, the area would become a small aerodrome,’’ the report said.

The plan had financial risks for the council, which ‘‘would need to be managed if the project is to proceed and succeed’’.

The study found a ‘‘state-of-the-art museum’’ was not viable because it would have cost $7million to establish and $550,000 a year to run.

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