ROY ROLLO COLLECTION
No. 12804. Consolidated 28-1 PBY-1 Catalina US Navy
Photograph from the Rollo family via Eloise Grigsby

Consolidated 28-1 PBY-1 Catalina

06/30/2015. Remarks by Eloise Grigsby: "The following is taken from the autobiography of my uncle, Roy Rollo. He got his wings from Captain W.F. Halsey at Pensacola and was assigned to US Navy Patrol Squadron Twelve (VP-12) in San Diego, flying Consolidated PBY aircraft like the VP-11 aircraft pictured above. This is exactly what he said he wanted... 'to fly big boats'. In the summer of 1938 VP-12 went on manoeuvres to Alaska. (For more information about Patrol Squadron Twelve read the remarks on page 6085).

In the fall of 1940 the Dutch Government in Exile was granted permission to purchase PBYs for export to the Dutch East Indies and hire Navy pilots as instructors. Since my uncle had been flying PBYs for three years he applied for one of the positions and was hired, but neutrality laws required him to resign his commission. Roy's home was in Arizona and he and his family travelled almost 13,000 miles by ship and plane, via Hawaii, Canton, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia, Timor and Bali, before reaching the Royal Netherlands Navy base in Soerabaja, Java. When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor and Manilla in December 1941 the contingent of instructors and their families were evacuated aboard a tramp steamer for a 38-day journey back to the US.

Roy attempted to reinstate his Navy commission but this was denied, so he took a job with Douglas Aircraft in California. In the fall of 1942 he volunteered to go to Gura, Eritrea, Ethiopia as a test pilot (pictured here in the cockpit of a C-47) for a secret aircraft operation managed by Douglas called Project 19 repairing damaged aircraft and assembling new lend-lease aircraft for the RAF.

In the spring of 1943 he returned to the US and continued working for Douglas until December 1944. Thereafter, Roy became employed by Consolidated Steel Corporation in Los Angeles as pilot for the company president, Alden G. Roach. Eventually the company became the Columbia-Geneva Steel Division of U.S. Steel with Mr. Roach its President, and Roy continued as his personal pilot. In December 1956 tragedy befell the Rollo family when the company's Lockheed Lodestar (N1245V), piloted by Roy, by which time he had more than 10,000 hours flying time, crashed with no survivors. The Civil Aeronautics Board was unable to determine a cause of the crash."

Created June 30, 2015