Students Get Hands-On History Lesson


Not too many students get to see the result of their school projects on the silver screen but some aviation tech students at a Washington State college will buying the popcorn when the next Nicolas Cage movie comes out. Three students at Clover Park Technical College played a starring role in readying a PBY-6A flying boat to Second World War flying condition for its cameo in the movie USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, which begins shooting this week. It took about three months to get the aircraft in shape and the students spent afternoons after their regular classes and weekends helping out the techs doing the restoration. Two of the students had to stop working on the PBY but three remained and got their names on the tail of the aircraft. One got a job offer at a local aviation maintenance company.

The aircraft was airworthy when it arrived across the field from the college in February. It’s actually an air tanker owned by Flying Firemen, of Spanaway, WA. However, it had to be put back into the livery and appearance of what it might have looked like when it rolled off the Consolidated Vultee line in 1945. The movie chronicles the five days spent by survivors of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the Philippine sea. The Indianapolis delivered the atomic bombs that ended the Second World War. Many of those who survived the sinking were killed by sharks.