Last October for my 70th birthday my daughter Sarah bought me a ride in a Lancaster at RAF East Kirkby in Lincolnshire. The ride was actually booked in April last year. The first available date was 27 August this year!
Thus it was we made our way to Lincoln on 26th August. The weather forecast for the Saturday did not look good. We drove to East Kirkby in the gathering gloom on the following morning. We had just made it into the reception area when down came the rain. It chucked it down for about five minutes. Then it stopped and out came the sun. For the whole of the visit the weather was perfect!
East Kirkby is on land that was bought by the Panton brothers many years ago. They set up the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in honour of their brother Christopher who served in Bomber Command and was shot down over Germany in 1944. The Lancaster arrived in 1988 and was restored to ground running level. It is hoped that within the next five years it will become airworthy and that it will take off from East Kirkby. Sadly Harold Panton died three years ago and the only brother still living is Fred. Fortunately they have an extended family who have taken over the running of East Kirkby. If you have the slightest interest in military aviation this is the place to visit.
The lucky ten gathered at the door of the Lancaster at 12:45 ready for the briefing. We were given the positions we were to occupy and then we boarded the aircraft for a tour from cockpit to tail. It was not the first time I had been aboard ‘Just Jane’ before as I was fortunate enough to be shown around her when she was the Gate Guardian at RAF Scampton back in 1977.
13:30! Time to start the engines! Into the rear-gunners position I wedged myself! Merlin engines always make a superb noise but to hear them from the inside of a Lancaster is something special. We rolled forward and onto the airfield. I can confirm that the airfield is not a smooth ride! Who cares it was just a brilliant day all round. Everyone had their photograph taken waving from the cockpit and I bought the framed pictures and certificates.
A cup of tea in the NAAFI and a look round the museum stopping at the mandatory shop where I bought one or two items!
As we headed back to Lincoln there was a detour to the Metheringham Aviation Centre. This is a small operation based on part of the old wartime airfield of which there are many in Lincolnshire. Manned entirely by volunteers it is an interesting place to visit. As we departed down came the rain with impeccable timing. We found out later that it had been raining all over Lincolnshire apart from East Kirkby! At times like this you just know that there is a God!
My thanks to my camera lady the present Mrs Pickles! Yours truly on the internal cameras.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx For Sarah
Video available on my Facebook page! This site only takes photographs unless you pay through the nose!