It's a beautiful seaplane abandoned between the sea and the desert of Saudi Arabia and it's been left there for almost 50 years. The plane is a PBY-5A Catalina, a military American seaplane from the 1930's. It's is located on a beach off the Strait of Tiran on the Saudi Arabia side of the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba. Thanks to Adam, we get to know about it and it's story (You too can propose a story to us) :

"The aircraft is a PBY-5A model and was bought from the US Navy by Thomas W Kendall, a retired businessman who converted it to a luxury flying yacht.

The PBY-5A Catalina was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft of World War II.

In the spring of 1960 Mr Kendall took a pleasure trip around the world with his wife and children together with his secretary and her son. A photographer joined the group to cover part of the trip for life magazine.

On the 22nd March 1960 they landed at the Strait of Tirana and anchored the aircraft a short distance from the shore to spend the night there. They heard someone shouting but did not pay any attention.

In the afternoon of the following day they were attacked with machine guns and automatic firearms from a headland nearby. The children were able to swim back to the aircraft. Mr Kendal and his secretary were wounded while trying to start the Catalina but moved it about 800 metres, unfortunately it ran aground on a coral reef.

The firing lasted 30 to 40 minutes and no fewer than 300 shots hit the aircraft. The fuel tanks were perforated and 4000 litres of fuel poured from the holes but miraculously the aircraft did not catch fire. The sea was only about 1.5 metres deep and all aboard managed to leave the aircraft and reach the shore.

On the beach they were captured by a group of Bedouins attached to the Saudi Arabian army, who had taken them to be Israeli commandos. They were eventually taken to Jeddah, interrogated and finally set free with the help of the American Ambassador. The Ambassador protested to the Saudi Arabian government but they refused to accept any liability for the attack and consequent loss of the aircraft." Incredible story. Thank you Adam.

coordinates : 28°05'27.02"N 34°36'30.93"E
google map

pictures sources : 1 & Adam
text source : 1 & Adam

Artificial Owl recommends:
Related Articles

Blog Widget by LinkWithin


  1. Anonymous // Thursday, July 30, 2009 6:28:00 AM  

    Neat story and great photos. A little political statement though? All nations, proper names etc are capitalised except "American"...

  2. Dang Lad // Thursday, July 30, 2009 2:27:00 PM  

    One of the most amazing stories I've seen on AO so far. Great pictures and excellent supporting context.

  3. The Artificial Owl // Thursday, July 30, 2009 6:54:00 PM  

    To answer to Anonymous: There was absolutely no political statement :) just a mistake, it's been corrected now.

  4. Anonymous // Friday, July 31, 2009 9:28:00 AM  

    Not certain this story is true.
    Here is the actual plane that he flew with his family.

  5. Anonymous // Thursday, August 06, 2009 3:53:00 AM  

    there's one of those at Anchorage Flight Museum.