Avalon Air Transport

From Islapedia
Avalon Air Transport's first Grumman Goose, Santa Catalina Island
Avalon Air Transport crash landing, Avalon Beach, Santa Catalina Island, 1958
Sikorsky VS-44 Flying Boat
This only one of a kind in the world, the 46-passenger flying boat carries summertime passengers in luxury and comfort between Pacific Landing
in Long Beach Harbor and Avalon. Its wingspan is 124 feet and its
four engines develop a total of 5,000 horsepower.
Mirro-krome post card
Avalon Air Transport, Santa Catalina Island
[original in SCIF archives]
Avalon Air Transport brochure

Avalon Air Transport (1953-1968) came into being during the summer of 1953. The airline was founded by pilot Dick Probert with partner Jean Chisolm. They began the operation with a single Grumman Goose (N1503V). A short time later, Jean Chisolm's share of the airline was purchased by Walt von Kleinsmid. The airline was very successful and grew into a fleet of seven Grumman Gooses, a Sikorsky VS-44A and a Sikorsky S-43. In 1963 the airlines's name was changed to Catalina Airlines. The airline ceased operations in 1968.

Avalon Air Transport Fleet:

  • Grumman Gooses:
N322, N323, N324, N325, N327, N328, N329, N93G, N1133
  • Sikorsky S-43: N326
  • Sikorsky VS-44A: N41881


In the News~

October 8, 1953 [Valley News, Van Nuys]: “Two Valley Rotary clubs — Canoga Park and Sun Valley — have chartered planes to take them to Catalina Island today for the convention of Rotary District 160B. The planes will be furnished by Avalon Air Transport, owned by Richard Probert, who with Andy Devine previously owned Probert-Devine Flying School. Probert will pilot the Rotarians to Avalon. He will pick up the Canoga Park group at 10:30 a.m. today from San Fernando Valley Airport and the Sun Valley group at 9:30 a.m. from Burbank. The new air service which started operations Aug. 27 of this year and normally operates from Long Beach Municipal Airport, has carried more than 1500 passengers the first month, making two flights a day. The flight takes 17 minutes from Long Beach to Avalon and 25 minutes from Burbank to the island.”

March 19, 1954 [LBI]: “Catalina dance set. A delayed St. Patrick's dance, with proceeds going to St. Catherine's Church of Avalon, will be held Saturday, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. in Catalina's Casino. Music will be provided by Kay Riggs orchestra. Extra flights to the island have been scheduled for the event by United Air Lines and Avalon Air Transport.”

August 25, 1958 [LBI]: “Men from Catalina Island clamber atop the wing of Avalon Air Transport's 24-passenger Sikorsky amphibian in Avalon Harbor Saturday evening as they attempt to bring up its wing which dipped into the water when wing float gave way upon landing. The aircraft was landing empty on a final trip to pick up passengers from the island. No one was injured. Airline officials said the craft was not seriously damaged. The float apparently struck a floating object.”

September 9, 1958 [LBI]: “Worker bitten by snake. A 29-year-old quarry worker was evacuated fro Catalina Island by an Avalon Air Transport flying boat after he was bitten by a rattlesnake Monday afternoon. Richard A. Taylor of Avalon was treated at Seaside Memorial Hospital, where his condition was reported good. He was then transferred to an Inglewood Hospital. Taylor was bitten on his left calf while working in the Graham Bros. Rock Quarry on the west side of the island, 15 miles from the city of Avalon. Dick Probert, chief pilot of the airline, said he was just ready to take off for Long Beach at 6 p.m. when Taylor was brought alongside the four-engine Sikorsky flying boat. An ambulance was waiting at Pacific Landing when the plane landed. Taylor had received first aid treatment and serum before leaving the island.”

September 1, 1960 [The Catalina Islander]: “Avalon Air completes seven years of service. On Saturday, August 27, Avalon Air Transport completed seven years of service to Avalon Bay. The airline started service seven years ago with only one nine place amphibian. This one plane was the first of a fleet which now includes a four-engine flying boat operating from Long Beach Harbor; two twin engine DC-3's and several Grumman Goose amphibians, now serving a route which has grown from the original route which was Long Beach to Catalina Island route to where it now includes Burbank and Los Angeles International airports. The airline has made over 100,000 channel crossings since it inaugurated service and carried several hundred thousand tourists to and from Catalina Island. During the freight tie up which paralyzed Catalina during the winter of 1958, Avalon Air Transport brought nearly all food and freight that this island received during the last few weeks before normal freight service resumed. The airline played a very important role as one of the prime movers during the summer of 1959. Avalon Air Transport goes into its eighth year as a regular scheduled airlines.”

October 9, 1961 [LBI]: “A twin engine Avalon Air Transport Inc. amphibian plane with 10 persons aboard crashed during takeoff Sunday from choppy, windswept Avalon Harbor. The nine passengers and pilot escaped from emergency exits soon after the $45,000 Grumman Goose plunged nose-first into the harbor, about 300 yards off shore. The aircraft later sank as it was being towed to shallow water. None of the passengers or pilot was injured seriously. All were plucked from the water within a matter of minutes. All 10 were treated at Avalon Municipal Hospital for shock and exposure. Gail Cason, 18, of 223 Glendora Ave., recently named Miss Lakewood, was admitted for observation. Miss Cason had represented the City of Lakewood at the Catalina Indian Festival and was returning when the plane crashed. She escaped through a window in the pilot compartment.”