One of the most eagerly anticipated events on the aviation scene in recent years was the arrival in the UK of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster X FM213 (marked as KB726 VR-A – leading to the aircraft often being referred to as ‘Vera’). Having crossed the Atlantic via Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland, this last leg ending in Lincolnshire was planned to see the aircraft joined by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster, plus a Spitfire and Hurricane, for formation flypasts over various local locations and with the addition of the Red Arrows over Lincoln and Coningsby. Many thousands of expectant aviation enthusiasts gathered at all of the points on the route following her progress via social media and Flight Radar apps. The weather during the morning had been changeable but mostly fine, with Coningsby’s regular Typhoon movements and an arrival by VIPs in a HS125 taking place without issue. Sadly as the time for the RAF’s participation approached an extreme weather front moved in from the east drenching the thousands waiting patiently and leading to their cancellation.
All that remained was to get VR-A down safely. From underneath umbrellas all eyes were trained on the approach at Coningsby, and eventually a silhouette appeared from out of the gloom to put down gently onto the damp Lincolnshire runway. Having shut down on the taxiway the Lancaster was towed into position alongside PA474 in front of the welcoming party of veterans and invited guests. Outside the fence her arrival was met with cheers and clapping from the enthusiastic public, many of whom were locals from the village. The residents of Coningsby have a great affection for the airbase and particularly the historic BBMF, illustrated by the many flags on show welcoming the visitors from Canada.
KB726 will undergo servicing in the BBMF hangar before making practice flights with PA474 prior to their public debut at ‘Airbourne’, Eastbourne, on Thursday, followed by around eighty other appearances. The Lancaster will return to Canada on the 22 September.
Once the two fly together it will be the first time in around fifty years that such a sight has been seen, and will most likely only ever be repeated if or when the East Kirkby Lancaster NX611 is restored to airworthy condition.