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The Barataria Bonavista
Not long after it began development of its first aircraft--the Beta--, Barataria was asked to undertake a special "rush" job for its friend and neighbor in Alviso, Pan Pacific Airways. Pan Pacific had been contacted by a representatives of various "foreigners" interested in establishing regular air service between and among various South Pacific colonies, the United States, and Southeast Asia. To meet these needs, Pan Pacific needed a flying boat which could fly at least ten passengers at least 2,500 statute miles.
Calling upon its experience with building speedboats and converting aircraft into seaplanes, Barataria was able to quickly develop a new flying boat named the Bonavista* which met these specifications.** By late 1936, it had delivered four flying boats to Pan Pacific Airways--the "prototype" plus three additional aircraft--which had been named by the Airline the Tagataya Clipper, the Boragora Clipper, the Tahiti Clipper, and the Tonkin Clipper. The four new clippers were immediately put into service.
The Wotanberg Overseas Airways Company (W.O.A.C.) also ordered two Bonavistas to fly from the Grand Duchy of Wotanberg to its two colonies, the Mustela Islands and the Seiber Island. These aircraft were named the the Kifaru Clipper and Tarafu Clipper when put into service in early 1938.
As is well known, in 1937 one of the four Pan Pacific clippers--the Tagataya Clipper--disappeared in the ocean presumably due to mechanical failure. A special investigation conducted by the Seiber Island's colonial Department of Commerce dispelled any doubts about the design and construction of the aircraft itself and concluded that in all likelyhood the cause of the crash was the use of an incorrect oil by the maintenance crew at the Palmyra Atoll. Indeed, the remaining three Pan Pacific Bonavistas and two W.O.A.C. aircraft acquitted themselves quite well over many years of service. In fact, one of them--the Tarafu Clipper--remains in service today with Seiber Airlines and another, the Kifaru Clipper remains in private service as well.
In early 1938, Jack Panzer, Barataria's Bos, had a specially modified Bonavista built as his new personal aircraft. The Black Bird as it was called had retractable landing gear and a bubble- canopied forward observation deck. In mid-1938, Panzer successfully flew this aircraft over 2,800 statute miles non-stop from Tahiti to New Caledonia. Tragically, it disappeared without a trace on a "routine" flight from Boragora in the Marivellas to Guam.
Despite the quality of the Bonavista, it was clear that it could not compete as an passenger aircraft with the more capacious and longer-ranged flying boats being produced by other companies. For this reason, and the undeserved stigma created by the loss of two aircraft, Barataria decided to stop production of the Bonavista after completion of the seventh*** and eighth**** planes and focus its resources on its new, smaller Branta*****.
than the rather faded--but autographed--copy shown
above of a drawing found in the employee lounge, all
plans and photographs of the Bonavista and
other records relating to the aircraft in Barataria's
possession seem to have disappeared.
* On an early test flight of the prototype, the Italian test pilot invited his wife--Erica Giovani--along, in hopes of curing her fear of flying. Seated in the observation deck with its two bubble windows, Erica sat twitching in fear until coaxed by husband to look out the windows at the beautiful San Francisco panorama. Opening her eyes for the first time during the flight, Erica looked at the partially constructed Golden Gate Bridge and exclaimed in her native Italian “O Buono Vista!” (or "Oh Happy Sight!") Coincidentally, these were the same words spoken by the famed Italian navigator Giovanni Caboto--who sailed for England as John Cabot--when he first sighted Newfoundland at what is now known as Cape Bonavista. [Even more coincidentally perhaps, one of the towns on Cape Bovavista is named "Catalina"--which is what the United Kingdom and the rest of the world--later called the Model 28.]
** (1) The Corporation denies that the Bonavista was merely a cheap copy of the more famous Consolidated Model 28 (aka the PBY Catalina]. The Corporation points outs that the Model 28 was a military aircraft not designed for commercial passenger use. The Corporation notes that its Bonavista was equipped with bubble windows two years before Consolidated's PBY4. The Corporation also states that it is merely coincidental that its development of the Bonavista began shortly after the reported disappearance of a complete set of plans for the Consolidated Model 28.
 The Corporation also denies that the Bonavistas were part of a covert U.S. government operation to secretly transfer real Consolidated Model 28's to various fronts for American and friendly foreign intelligence agencies. It specifically denies that it merely acted as a conduit for these transfers, making only some minor, mostly cosmetic, modifications to Consolidated Model 28's prior to "selling" them as Bonavistas.
*** This was originally ordered by Pan Pacific, which planned to name it the Timor Clipper to provide service to Portugal's colony in East Timor. When Pan Pacific cancelled the order, a new buyer was soon found--Aero-Carlotta--which named it the Carlotta Clíper.
**** This was also originally ordered by Pan Pacific, which planned to name it the Tibet Clipper to provide service to Tibet. When Pan Pacific cancelled the order, a new buyer was soon found--Barranca Airlines--which named it the Barranca Barco.
***** The Corporation denies that the a military version of the Black Bird was further developed and marketed secretly.