Historic WWII plane grounded in Utah finally ready to fly again

Aug 18, 2022, 6:39 PM | Updated: 11:01 pm

OGDEN, Utah — A World War II-era plane could fly home very soon after it was stranded in Utah for the last seven weeks.

The plane made an emergency landing on Willard Bay in June.

A mechanical failure forced the pilots to put it down in the water. It needed desperate repairs.

Now seven weeks later, the repairs are done and crew members are prepared to get back home to Oregon.

Repairs took so long because parts are no longer made for World War II warbirds.

Crew members usually fabricate the parts they need. This repair was a much bigger job than most.

When your life revolves around an 80-year-old plane, you need to be ready for unexpected setbacks.

When the plane went down, a failing landing gear poked a hole through one of its doors.

For seven weeks, crew members took turns working during a Utah heatwave.

“It takes a lot of time and a lot of money,” said Coy Pfaff, director of the Soaring by the Sea Foundation. “So it was built in 1943 up in Canada and it served with the 162nd squadron. The aircraft served with the Brits, Canadians, Americans, I think even sent some to the Russians during the war, so they served all over.”

The Prices of the Seas needed repairs after it landed in the water at Willard Bay in June. (KSL TV) Coy Pfaff, director of the Soaring By the Sea Foundation (KSL TV) A failed landing gear poked a hole through one of the plane's doors.  (KSL TV)

Pfaff said it’s important to show people what these machines did and how those who served sacrificed.

“So you have different WWII veterans that have signed it,” Pfaff said.

He added being able to show this PBY-5A to veterans that once flew in one and take them in the air has been huge.

“I like living museums which is what this is. If it sits there in a building and never moves, it almost feels dead,” he said.

The Princess of the Stars could soon be in the air again.

It’s how this once active-duty Marine gives back – showing it off, not only to veterans but to the younger generations.

Pfaff said, “It really keeps history alive, keeps the memory alive of what the machines and the men did back then.”

Somewhere between all the traveling and the surprise repairs is what makes all of this worthwhile, making sure people don’t forget what we fought so hard for during World War II.

“So it doesn’t happen again. Hopefully, we can learn from it,” he said.

The Princess of the Stars will eventually be grounded and put on a permanent display.

The foundation also has a PB2 and a Sky Raider which do not fly.

Donations fund the Soaring by the Sea Foundation. You can contribute here.

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Historic WWII plane grounded in Utah finally ready to fly again