The Battle of Britain

Memorial Flight

 

The final flying display of the 2003 season for the BBMF was the Lincolnshire Lancaster Association Members' Day at RAF Coningsby on Sunday 5th October.  The flight has been temporarily based at Barkston Heath while the main runway at Coningsby was being re-laid ready for the new Eurofighters.   Although not yet handed over as completed, special arrangements were made for the BBMF to fly their fleet back there for the winter maintenance.

The day was clear and bright with a fairly strong NW breeze, so the planned schedule for the return of the aircraft at intervals during the day had to be abandoned as the cross-wind was beyond the operating limits imposed on these precious tail-draggers.  Several hundred members of the Lincolnshire Lancaster Association, the support organisation of the BBMF, spent much of the day in the massive hangar looking at the Chipmunk, used to gain tail-dragger experience, and a lone Hurricane, or looking round the well-stocked visitor centre, shop and cafe.  The small museum is filled with wartime memorabilia and even an R1155 as fitted to the Lanc. that you can tune in and enjoy the international flavour of the HF bands or try to receive SSB or morse with the help of the BFO.   For some reason it didn't seem able to receive the Light programme on 200kc/s, though. 

Finally, the message was spread that the flight would return at about 4pm and put on a display, to be followed by landing if conditions were suitable.

We weren't disappointed by the magnificent sight and sound of the Dakota, Lancaster, Hurricane and 3 Spitfires flying  in formation, doing a number of low passes, then the Dakota split away and the British aircraft did their stuff, the fighters flew over in formation, and finally the Lancaster did a solo turn, bomb doors open.  The sound of so many Merlin engines together was particularly memorable.  As each aircraft landed, they taxied to the hangar to be greeted by applause from the members.

While many visitors to Airdays may see one or more of the BBMF aircraft, it's a rare privilege to see them all together, and particularly poignant for me at the moment as the Lancaster is in 61-Squadron markings, the squadron my father started operations with, on Hampdens and where he ended up as S/L on Lancasters, before moving into training aircrews.  

If you want to join the support group, it's only 8 a year and you get two substantial colour A4 booklets with details of the crews and planes, and articles about wartime operations and memories, schedules for the planned displays of the BBMF, and a range of special items to purchase.   To join, contact The Lincolnshire Lancaster Association Ltd, PO Box 474, Lincoln LN5 9ES.

If you want to visit, the Visitor Centre (free admission) is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm.  Last tour of the hangar begins at 3.30pm (3pm Nov-Feb).  Please phone first to check specific aircraft will be there, and that tours are possible.  A small charge is made for the tour.   01526-344041