In the panic of the Pearl Harbor attack, a PBY and her ad hoc crew managed to get airborne—but the real challenge was getting back in one piece.
From 1939 to 1942, I was assigned to squadron VP-23, based in Hawaii. An antisubmarine patrol of the fleet operating areas in use, flown by PBYs, was in effect at the time of Pearl Harbor. There were numbered areas around Pearl Harbor where battleships, cruisers, destroyers, or whatever would go to operate and train. The arrangement was that the naval air stations at Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe would alternate, because the daily requirements would vary. One would have six duty planes, and the other outfit would have six standby planes, so that on any given day, if they needed seven airplanes to patrol the operating areas, they would take all six of the duty planes and one standby plane. If they didn't use all of them—as Kaneohe didn’t on the morning of the seventh (they used only three)—they had three sitting on the ground, and my six over in Pearl were also on the ground. I was there with the group the morning of 7 December for that purpose.