“It was found at the end of a runway in Brazil about thirty five years ago, right in the middle of the rainforest,” he says.
According to Kuhnert, it had been leased to the Brazilian government during World War II for just $1—its mission, to patrol the waters of the Brazilian coastline for German U-boats.
Kuhnert said it still belongs to the Navy, but the Parks department arranged to bring it in pieces to Floyd Bennett to be restored.
Before the PBY became a HARP project, it was overseen by the U.S. Marines based in Cherry Point, North Carolina. It had just barely survived a hurricane. “The Marines loaded the wings with water for ballast but it flipped over anyway,” says Postel. “The wings were sheared off—the whole thing was a wreck.”