Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Hungerford Arcade Bomber Command

Two very good friends of Hungerford Arcade, Colleen and Mike Kent, who organise the West Berkshire Classic Vehicle Club Show for us (Sunday, 21st September), have sent me an article on a very special visit they made at the weekend to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre.

Experience of a lifetime

Dad was an Airframe Fitter on Lancasters during World War 2, so the Lancaster Bomber has always been my number one interest.  In fact both me, and my wife Colleen, are members of the Lincolnshire Lancaster Association.
There are only 2 airworthy Lancasters in the world, one in England as part of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at Coiningsby, Lincolnshire, the other in Canada, at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. So imagine my excitement when the Canadian’s announced they were bringing their Lancaster FM213 over, to join with the RAF’s Lancaster PA474, for 6 weeks.  During which time the 2 Lancasters would be flying together at Air Displays.  I just had to see the 2 together.

Canadian Lancaster Bomber FM213 (VERA)
The Canadian’s Lancaster, known as VERA, due to her markings, arrived at RAF Coningsby on the 8th August.  The 2 Lancs have done numerous Fly Pasts and Displays since. 

We have visited Lincolnshire twice to photograph the 2 Lancasters together.  On one accession we got to RAF Coningsby, only to be told that flying was cancelled for the day, due to low cloud.  This however provided us with an excellent photo opportunity, as both planes were manoeuvred back into the hangar.

England's Lancaster Bomber PA474
 During the weekend of 13th and 14th September both aircraft were at Bournemouth Airport, having returned from the Channel Islands, and booked to display at Goodwood Revival.  Unfortunately both went unserviceable, the BBMF one with an engine problem, and VERA with a brake fault.  Both were however repaired, by 17:00 hrs, (a Hurricane from the BBMF having flown in with the spares).  The Canadian then carried out 2 local flights, before both departed for the display at Goodwood, and returned 50 minutes later, giving the waiting crowd another unexpected treat.

Mike photographing the fabulous WWII Lancaster Bomber
I must also mention Lancaster NX611 at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, at East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, just a few miles from Coningsby.  This aircraft taxies most Saturdays, and a visit to watch this is 
always well worthwhile.
Mike Kent

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