The Lighter Side of the PBY Catalina



PBY Pilot


Robert Osborn. Creator of Dilbert the Pilot

These illustrations were created by Robert C. Osborn while he was commissioned as a Navy officer during WWII. Osborn began drawing cartoons of a pilot who was hapless, arrogant, ignorant and perpetually blundering in ways that put himself and his crew at unnecessary risk. The name of this character was “Dilbert the Pilot”, and “Dilbert” was soon to become a slang term used to refer to “sailor who is a foul-up or a screwball.”

Robert Osborn illustrated around 2000 Dilbert the Pilot and Spoiler the Mechanic posters for the navy. Ranging from basic flight instructions, survival at sea, to attacking subs and carriers. Posters are sometimes simple drawn black and white images to vivid color and very detailed. He can draw a plane with Spoiler working on him and you understand how the plane feels when Spoiler breaks a part.

Osborn’s Dilbert images are also in the Navy Sense booklets like Oxygen Sense, Prisoner Sense, Arctic Sense, and about 50 other sense booklets and some for the Army. Osborn drew for around fifty years for the navy with articles in Naval Aviation news magazines every couple of months with his Grampaw Pettibone safety stories.


His posters may show funny situations pilots get into, but he’s showing what can and does happen if you don’t pay attention and learn from other pilots mistakes.

These photos were made possible by Jason McKeon of Springtown, Texas. and Paul Tocknell with Ask A Flight Instructor

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