Unforgettable Sight and Sound

  • Aug 5, 2014 5:16am GMT

At 10 am this morning an epic journey takes flight. Out-of-the-box thinking in Hamilton is making the old new again. When your mandate is to ‘keep them flying’, you’ve got to find new ideas and this group is taking risks that are paying off.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum will be flying their prized Avro Lancaster to England for a 2 month tour. After towing the Lancaster to the runway to conserve fuel they flooded engine number 2 yesterday and delayed the launch a day. They have built time into their schedule for such events. The bomber will join the only other airworthy Lancaster in the world, owned and operated by the Royal Air Force's renowned Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Departing from Hamilton, Ontario on August 4th, the plan is to arrive in England 4 days later with stops en-route at Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, Narsarsuaq, Greenland, and Keflavik, Iceland. Their home away from home in the UK will be in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight hangar at RAF Coningsby.

Shortly after arriving, the Lancaster will undergo a scheduled maintenance inspection and then the Canadian crews will complete a short training program in preparation to participate in several air displays and fly pasts with Memorial Flght fighters and the other Lancaster.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum was very clever in auctioning a seat on the trip to help fund the $690,000 journey. British IT businessman Matthew Munson paid £43,000 to join them on the historic flight over. The 34 year old entrepreneur won the bidding war on eBay saying, ’The bidding was at $79,000 (Canadian dollars) and I’d set myself a limit of $83,000 so I entered that amount but then got a message from eBay saying they needed to verify the bid because it was such a large amount of money. I put in a final bid of $79,100 just two minutes before it closed and was a bit stunned when I got a call from the museum in Canada a few minutes later to say I’d won!' The Lancaster’s 3,700 mile journey is also sponsored by Thwaites, the brewers of Lancaster Bomber ale. Back in Canada the story has generated a lot of extra publicity for the museum and will no doubt gather even more interest now that it has begun.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum put together two other great ideas Father’s Day weekend. I was honoured to be the MC for a unique Dinner / Night Air Show and Bomber Night Run. The museum saved the added costs of a large air show by limiting the event to just 2000 ticket holders. They paid over a 100 dollars each for a candlelit dinner beside the runway. As the sun set the museum’s aircraft and invited warbirds such as the Military Aviation Museum’s Mosquito and the Commemorative Air Force’s B-24 took to the sky. At sunset Manfred Radius performed his twilight show in his Salto sailplane and as the stars came out air show greats Gene Soucy in his Showcat and Matt Younkin in his Beech 18 performed their night shows. The final act was the full moon rising as satisfied guests climbed aboard their coaches and headed back to the museum. (see video below).