UK Tour: Lancasters, Seen and Not Seen

Finishing up at Woburn Abbey on Saturday (16th), and having checked the weather forecast for the following day, we decided that before heading back to our hotel in Luton we’d quickly head across to Old Warden to see if we could watch the two Lancaster bombers fly over the Flying Proms event being held at Shuttleworth that evening.

Lancaster: The Canadian Lancaster B X FM213 flies overhead at Old Warden prior to the Shuttleworth Collection's Flying Proms evening event.

Lancaster: The Canadian Lancaster B X FM213 flies overhead at Old Warden prior to the Shuttleworth Collection’s Flying Proms evening event.

The reason for this was that while we were planning on seeing the two Lancasters display at the Sywell Airshow the following day, we figured we should make the most of every opportunity to see them, particularly when the weather forecast for Sunday the 17th wasn’t so great. At we got across to Old Warden we found that many locals had also had the same idea, and the narrow country lanes were rapidly becoming full of cars parked up, with people jumping out and looking for a spot in any nearby field to watch the aircraft arrive.

We finally found a spot to park our car, and joined hundreds of others, expectantly waiting to see if the Lancasters would show up. We were not disappointed — it wasn’t long before we could make out the throbbing of eight Rolls Royce Merlin engines steadily approaching. Then, there they were, just over the trees in the distance and rapidly increasing in size as they got ever closer — two magnificent bomber aircraft flying in close formation — for many it was a hair-sticking-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck moment, and given the relatively pleasant evening conditions, a moment that many will remember for a very long time. It was certainly worth the time and effort to make the trip to Old Warden for the evening.

Sywell Great War Airshow: One of the few airworthy remaining ex-RNZAF P-51 Mustang fighters. The example is operated from Hardwick in Norfolk.

Sywell Great War Airshow: One of the few airworthy remaining ex-RNZAF P-51 Mustang fighters. The example is operated from Hardwick in Norfolk.

Unfortunately the following day at the Great War Airshow at Sywell things were not to go so well. Increasingly rough weather during the day mean that the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight decided to cancel their scheduled displays so we didn’t get to see either the two Lancs, or any of the other BBMF aircraff that were set down to display during the show. Despite that there were a number of excellent displays throughout the display, including the Grace Spitfire, the two Hardwick Mustangs, Hurricane, Canberra, Mystery Ship, wing-walkers and many others.

RAF Red Arrows: Four of the Royal Air Force's premier display team, the Red Arrows, churning diesel smoke at the Sywell Airshow.

RAF Red Arrows: Four of the Royal Air Force’s premier display team, the Red Arrows, churning diesel smoke at the Sywell Airshow.

The pinnancle of the show for most, particularly for those of us who have not previously had the chance to see them, was the Royal Air Force’s ‘Red Arrows’ display team. In our opinion they put on a fantastic display, and we’d be very keen to see them again at some point. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.

By the time the Red Arrows had finished up, the weather was beginning to turn again and the crowd started to drift away. Although it had been a very windy day, and quite chilly at times, the flying displays had been well worth watching and it had been an enjoyable event—even if we did miss out on seeing the Lancasters again.  Perhaps we’ll have better luck later in the trip…..

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