Film: 4318

Aviation | 1950 | Sound | B/W


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A film about the Teal Catalina flying boats that operated out of Wellington New Zealand flying to Sydney, Fiji, Tahiti, the Cook Islands and Samoa in the 1950's. Displays rather patronising attitudes to the Maoris of New Zealand and the people of the South Pacific islands.

A Catalina flying boat lands in Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour. A picturesque valley in country Australia. The Catalina has come to rest, its propellers still turn slowly, there is a modern terminal on the wharf in the background. * - *

An aerial shot shows the Catalina as it flies over the city of Wellington, New Zealand. People line the shore of Evans Bay waving to the descending aircraft, the little boy plays with a toy plane. He brings his toy aircraft down onto the water to land it. In the distance the Catalina lands on the bay. The little boy puts his plane down on the water surface and then lifts it off again. In the distant island of Samoa, a little Samoan boy has a model aeroplane, he too plays with it on the seas edge. He wears only shorts in the tropical sunshine, and as he skims his plane over the waters edge he looks up to the sky to watch an approaching aircraft, a jetty and wharf shed and many coconut palms are visible. The boy stands and watches the flying boat land. It runs along the water, the little boy stands on the shore watching. Sheep graze in the Waikato farmlands of New Zealand. Hot mud pools pop at Rotorua. The water of a geyser flies into the air. The young man and woman from the aircraft are at the tourist spot. The geyser shoots into the air. A geo-thermal bore ? shoots out steam front the earth. A wide shot shows that this steam is collected in pipes, and controlled by scientists to provide power and a supply of heavy water for the development of atomic energy, a Maori worker operates a release valve at the collection plant. The Maori turns the valve, the narrator says of all the Polynesians the Maori "has come furtherest to adapting themselves to the white mans civilisation". The steam outlet pipe gushes with steam from deep in the earth. The Maori tends the valve.

In the Cook Islands a young male and female both pump fuel into the Catalina which is in a harbour, they stand on a floating pontoon on which there are at least six 44 gallon fuel drums, it bobs on the water, beside the pontoon and the flying boat there is a dinghy. Workers walk across high wingspan of the flying boat, also visible is another fuel pontoon under the left wing and two people pumping the double hand pump levers. On the beach, white tourists stand about as the Cook Islanders push 44 gallon drums up a plank of timber onto a pontoon. The narrator speaks patronisingly about the "natives increasing acquaintance of the great machines of the white man" as an idyllic island beach is shown.. The passengers from the flying boat walk along the rock and sand jetty as they disembark from a launch which has carried them from the flying boat. They enter a shadowed house with a grass roof. Cook Island women in floral strapless dresses serve the passengers drinks on the verandah. Two of the airline personnel take refreshments standing in the village. From the shade of the verandah one can see through the palms onto the beach, in the distance the flying boat sits on the water, the serving girls and an airline pilot move about the shore. The airline employees, in pilot uniforms, and the tourists move back along the beach to the small stone jetty. They embark into the launch which is at the end of the jetty, the islanders have finished refueling the plane and are unloading the empty 44 gallon drums from the pontoons on the shore. The propellers of the flying boat begin to turn. From the window of the aircraft the float under the wing is visible. The woman looks out of her aircraft window. The propellers on the aircraft's right side are spinning. From the front the aircraft prepares to take off, it taxis along the water. Inside the pilot prepares to take off. He pulls back on a series of levers. The flying boat has lifted off. The woman looks out her window. The pilot concentrates on flying the plane.

The view from the aircraft shows a very mountainous tropical island. A launch is on the harbour. A young man speaks into a radio telephone handpiece, advising the flying boat that the landing channel has been swept. The radio operator in the Catalina hears the message through his headphones as he sits at his radio transmitter. The young Vogue woman looks excitedly out of the window. Below a beautiful island with magnificent white yachts and a spectacular mountainous backdrop. The young man in the launch speaks on the radio telephone, he looks out the launch and watches the Catalina land on the harbour. The captain relaxes. The propellers spin. The flying boat sends up a spray as it taxis. The woman looks excitedly out the aircraft window. At Papeete people line the dock to welcome the passengers of the fortnightly visit of the flying boat. The launch carrying the passengers pulls in. A young Tahitian woman stands with leis for the tourists. An older lady has leis over her arms, she beckons the passengers forward off the launch. She places a lei around the neck of one of the female tourists, and another Tahitian gives her a second, they kiss in greeting. A Tahitian woman with a band of flowers around her head greets the airline pilots. Other passengers are kissed in greeting. The young woman from the plane receives a lei. A middle-aged man has many leis around his neck. A young couple kiss familiarly as one returns to Tahiti. An elder gentleman greatly enjoys an embrace from a young Tahitian woman. The aircraft crew, wearing leis, walk up the beach.

The plane flies overhead. Inside, two pilots manage the controls. From cockpit, a Pacific city is visible. Inside the plane, the navigator and radio operator discuss the points on a map. Over Auckland, the plane is flying to Fiji. Inside is a young Fijian soldier. The plane banks. Inside the elegantly uniformed steward pours alcohol from a bottle for three glamourous female passengers. Peter Taylor, a sugar planter, is returning to Fiji from Australia. The women passengers chat and stand about. The young Fijian soldier looks out of the window, onto a modern Fijian city, probably Nadi, to what looks like a British-style school or university. In the Fijian market, people squat around the fruit and vegetable produce they have for sale. Indian Fijian women wearing saris enter an Indian Fijian's shop. Tourists inspect shoes in the shop. Two Indian Fijian shop owners serve the woman, the narrator says the Indians are "polite, capable and industrious". The women enjoy looking at the jewellery, the shop keeper displays costume jewellery for them. One of the women smiles as another holds a necklace around her neck. The shop owner encourages another woman to put a necklace on, the fan overhead spins lazily.

The fan is replaced by a spinning propeller. A female passenger looks out her aircraft window. The businessman in the white suit relaxes in his seat. The plane passes over the land, then sea. Edward Thompson, a cattle farmer, is returning to Samoa after a trip to New Zealand, pedigree cattle buying. The plane flies overhead. A launch approaches the landed flying boat, men wear white overalls with TEAL printed on their backs. Edward looks out his plane window. The launch pulls alongside the plane. The following passengers alight; Wally Bignall. Maud Everitt. A Somoan businessman. An Australian Business men. Two members of a United Nations mission. Edward Thompson; all the passengers are helped from the aircraft into the launch. One of the flying boats propeller still spins. The packed launch heads for shore. Two Samoan men stand at the back of the boat. A welcoming committee of officials in white suits are lined up to greet the United nations mission. Samoans in traditional costume sit on the wharf. The United Nations mission and passengers walk through a flower-decorated archway as they come up the jetty, the other passengers follow. A large number of elder chiefs and men in traditional Samoan dress wait for the mission. They are here to welcome the mission. A launch passes in the background as the men wait sitting on the wharf. An older tribesman drinks kava. The flying boat flies overhead to Tahiti. A woman passenger eats lunch. A man in a suit is served food by a male steward in white uniform. The plane flies overhead. Three young female tourists are on the beach in bikinis, they spread out their towels. The women are stretched out in the sun on the white sand. The woman chat and sit up. A view of the mountainous Tahiti rising from the sea, the sea plane flies in. On a wharf several men stand about as a dinghy is unloaded. A small parcel is passed to a customs officer. The passengers luggage and other cargo the plane brings is unloaded onto a large trolley from the dinghy, the trolley is pulled down the jetty. A Tahitian postman on a bicycle rides to a village, there are ducks and hens and dogs, children play amongst the timber and grass houses. The postman rides up to a woman who is sitting outside her house with a child, he passes her the parcel. A woman clerk sitting at a desk writes in a notebook. A man calculates using an abacus. A person uses an old fashioned electric adding machine. The Papeete Post Office is a nice old colonial timber building. Bags of mail and parcels are stacked to be taken by flying boat to the rest of the world. People stand about the jetty as the launch with its Catalina passengers pulls away. A woman throws her lei onto the water, according to custom ensuring that she will return, Papeete recedes into he distance. A large TEAL sea plane is in font of a TEAL aeroplane hangar, technicians and mechanics stand about. A man with the help of a tractor and a crane and trolleys pulls a thick rope to guide the moving plane. The large sea plane is pulled from the hangar. It is lowered down a landing ramp into the sea water. A TEAL land aircraft is on a tarmac, passengers embark a plane up a set of mobile stairs. A propeller spins. A coconut palm blows in a tropical breeze. A beautiful young Tahitian woman sitting on a log picks up the discarded Vogue magazine the woman from Sydney was reading, she opens it to pages with Parisian models, she leans back and assumes a haughty demeanor like the models. She looks down at the magazine pictures lying in the dirt. A young child runs up to her. She cuddles him, picks up the magazine and walks back to the village homes, the narrator commenting "Old ways have made way for the white man's wonders." The plane flies above snow-covered mountains. The sea plane ploughs through the sea. A propeller and float are visible as the sea plane flies over the sea which is dotted with small islands and atolls. An air hostess brings the male pilot a cup of tea. The pilot looks out the cockpit window, he wears headphones. The Catalina flies low to land over a bay. It touches down on the water surface. Water is splashed onto the aircraft windows. It taxis, forcing up spray. Inside, a radio operator takes off his headphones. The pilot does his final checks puts on his cap and prepares to leave his seat. The blades of the propeller come to a stop.

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