Following the arrival of FM213, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster Mk.X, at RAF Coningsby on 8 August and the eventual release of the flight and display programme for the following seven weeks of her historic UK tour, there were two events that instantly stood out. One was the visit by FM213 to the former Royal Canadian Air Force bomber base at Middleton St. George (see HERE); the other was the unique opportunity to see three operational Lancasters together in Bomber County, the spiritual home of Avro’s iconic four engined wartime bomber aircraft. The event that would make aviation and airshow history was the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre’s ‘3Lancs’, and the available 5000 tickets available sold out within 28 hours of their release. Following discussions with both CWHM and BBMF, an opportunity arose for L.A.H.C. to stage a second event to satisfy overwhelming interest, and predictably an additional 5000 tickets also rapidly sold out.
On both event dates, as the estimated time of arrival approached for the two Lancasters to arrive over a taxying Just Jane with her four Merlin engines turning, a discernible hush fell over the gathered crowds. It wasn’t too long before a distant rumble was heard and the approaching Lancaster pair was sighted, and as they approached, the roar of their eight Merlin engines merged with those of Just Jane and an incredible spectacle unfolded as three operational Lancasters were seen together for the first time in over fifty years. The airborne Lancasters overflew Just Jane a number of times, presenting photographers and visitors with the unforgettable sight and sound of three symbolic 70 year old aircraft together for the first time in over fifty years. All too soon the two airworthy Lancasters departed west towards their nearby home at RAF Coningsby, but Just Jane continued to taxy, and at both events ran the entire length of the extended crowdline to a standing ovation from the crowd, before returning to crowd centre to shut down her engines.
One important person who was absent from the event was the late Fred Panton, who founded the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre over 25 years ago with his younger brother Harold; Although I looked on in awe at the sights unfolding in front of me, I thought of Fred as the flypasts took place, and have no doubt that many of the spectators at East Kirkby would have also done the same as Just Jane performed these historic taxy runs. The ‘3Lanc’ events were not just about providing a good spectacle – these significant events were also about recognising and remembering the Bomber Command veterans and their fallen comrades. A number of veterans were invited to the events as VIPs, and the public’s unwavering respect and affection for these gentlemen was really quite humbling.
For those 10,000 spectators who witnessed the three Lancasters together, they will have departed with an indelible memory that will be talked about for many, many years to come – and is in fact unlikely to be surpassed for quite some time, if at all. The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, and the Lancaster community in the UK and Canada, can be rightly proud of what was achieved at East Kirkby - I for one feel honoured to have experienced such a phenomenal occasion and thank all concerned for their contributions.
3Lancs – Album #1 (To play the album below please move your cursor over the bottom of the slideshow for the control panels).
3Lancs – Album #2 (To play the album below please move your cursor over the bottom of the slideshow for the control panels).