WWII-era seaplane makes unexpected water landing at Willard Bay after mechanical issue

Jun 27, 2022, 10:14 PM | Updated: 11:24 pm

WILLARD BAY STATE PARK, Utah — A World War II-era seaplane that took part in the Warriors over the Wasatch Air & Space Show at Hill Air Force Base over the weekend was in need of a tow Monday after coasting onto the glassy waters of the bay following a mechanical problem.

A large semi was brought in to help tow the PBY-5A out of the harbor Monday evening as officers and rescuers from multiple departments and agencies assisted as they could.

“We came out here today to do a touch-and-go on the water here before heading back to Oregon and had a small mechanical failure,” Coy Pfaff, executive director of Soaring by the Sea Foundation, which operates the plane, explained. “One of the gear doors let go and the other one right after it and they punched a hole in the aircraft as they were torn away.”

Why that happened was unclear, Pfaff said, but as a result, the plane took on water and had to coast onto the bay.

“There are no injuries. Everyone’s okay,” he said. “It was just a bit scary for those on board.”

(Andrew Adams/KSL TV)

Pfaff said the plane carries a lot of history with it.

“This one was built in 1943 and it fought in World War II in the North Atlantic,” Pfaff said. “In 1944, this one does actually have a confirmed sub kill — it sunk U-boat 342.”

After the war, Pfaff said the plane had been used for multiple purposes, including to fight wildfires, and also as a film studio in Africa.

“It’s pretty much been flying its whole life,” he said.

Pfaff said finding parts for repairs likely won’t be easy, so it was possible the plane might remain in the state anywhere from another two weeks to a couple months.

“It’s going to be expensive and it’s going to take some time, but we’ll get it flying again,” Pfaff said. “That’s the goal.”

As of late Monday evening, the seaplane remained in the parking lot, surrounded by orange cones and caution tape.

Onlookers who were used to seeing boats and jet skis on the water couldn’t believe the sight of a World War II plane at a popular recreation site.

“We were like, ‘What is that?!’” Chanelle Lund said. “That is the first time I’ve ever seen a plane out on the water!”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Michael Houck

Three men facing disorderly conduct charges after staging a kidnapping for a YouTube video

Three men were charged with disorderly conduct after staging a kidnapping for their YouTube channel Saturday afternoon. 
23 hours ago
Michael Houck

WVC Police search for drive-by shooting suspect, one victim in hospital

Police are searching for a shooting suspect after hospitalizing a man Sunday afternoon.
23 hours ago
Michael Houck

Police investigate why man died after he was in police custody

Salt Lake City police are investigating the death of a robbery suspect after being placed in custody and sent to the hospital on Sunday.
23 hours ago
A group of teens vandalizing the koi pound at the plant nursery. (Courtesy: Cactus & Tropicals)...
Shelby Lofton

Teen vandals destroy koi pond, try to harm fish at Salt Lake City business

A group of teens broke into a local plant nursery in Salt Lake City, vandalizing property and terrorizing animals.
23 hours ago
(South Salt Lake Police Department)...
Cary Schwanitz

South Salt Lake water main break causes sink hole, road closures

South Salt Lake police closed off eastbound lanes from 3300 South to State Street Sunday morning because of a gushing water main.
23 hours ago
Zach guarded the Washington, D.C. temple construction site in the 70s. (KSL TV)...
Carole Mikita

Old story of temple guard dog recalled during rededication weekend for Washington D.C. Temple

The Washington, D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been closed for the last four years because of a renovation and then the pandemic. The First Presidency traveled to our nation's capitol this weekend to rededicate the temple.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
WWII-era seaplane makes unexpected water landing at Willard Bay after mechanical issue