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WWII Warbird flies over Eugene

EUGENE, Ore. -- History took to the skies above Eugene on Monday as the owner of a PBY-5A Catalina that flew during World War II gave rides to close family and friends.

"It was just incredible. What an awesome deal that we were blessed to be here today," said Tom Smurzynski, who caught a ride on the plane.


Built in 1943, the Princess of the Stars sank a German submarine during the war. The plane has been used in films and has fought wildfires. Stuart Barr bought the plane after his grandson saw it in France. Barr said he wants the plane to serve as a reminder of what we fought for.

"We're just so fortunate as a family to bring it to Eugene so the youth of Eugene can really see what this plane did during World War II," Barr said.

It takes two people to fly and there is no autopilot.

During Monday's flight, the pilots did a "touch and go" at Fern Ridge Reservoir, where the seaplane skimmed along the water.

Barr plans to build a hanger for it on the north end of the airport and share with church groups and bring it to airshows. He also plans to bring it down to Mexico for scuba diving trips.