This summer saw an event that probably passed by a large part of the UK without being noticed. You had to be an aircraft fan to be aware of it – but if you were, it was momentous!
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) will be known to most people from its regular appearances at memorial events and airshows. It includes a number of Second World War aircraft including Spitfires, Hurricanes and a Lancaster bomber – it is this last aircraft that was the source of my excitement this summer.
My late father never flew in anger in the Second World War, but he did learn to fly with the RAF (in Florida!), then on his return to the UK he transferred onto Lancaster bombers. He was training up on them when the war in Europe came to an end. Consequently I grew up with a man who was always moved when the Lancaster flew over. So he would have loved this summer when the only other airworthy Lancaster flew over from Canada (an amazing feat itself) and displayed all around the UK with the BBMF Lancaster!
To see them flying together was therefore to be somewhat of a personal pilgrimage for me. My task was not helped by the visit taking place during August when I was away for two weeks in Ibiza. However an early September display at Duxford was finally confirmed and despite large traffic jams a great day was had. It was fantastic to see in the region of 200,000 people stand and go silent as the two aircraft displayed, it was really quite moving.
A week later I visited RAF Coningsby to see both planes in their hanger and get up close to them, again an amazing once in a lifetime experience.
My Dad would have approved.