The next part of our tour featured a trip deeper into ‘Bomber Country’ to see yet another Lancaster (on the ground this time), and possibly a chance to see the two flying Lancasters once again.
For those non-aviation buffs reading, ‘Bomber Country’ is the generic term that was given to the flat areas of Lincolnshire, Norfolk and the surrounding areas that were the home of many of the RAF’s bomber bases during the Second World War (large heavy bombers requiring much larger and longer runways than the fighter squadrons that were based in the South of England). One bomber, and parts of a base that remain is the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’ which is based at East Kirkby. The aircraft is all but airworthy, and during the summer months it runs up it’s four Rolls Royce Merlin engines, and taxis up and down the strip several times.
If you’re feeling wealthy enough you can even pay to be on board the aircraft as it does its runs. To say that being able to stand in front of four Merlin engines running less than 25m away is cool is certainly an understatement—the sound and the feel of the throbbing engines is just awesome. It was so good in fact that we waited around for a couple of hours just to see the second run of the day as well.
As it is there’s more of East Kirkby than ‘Just Jane’—they have a large display hangar with lots of information about the base, a DC3 aircraft, military vehicles, and a couple of smaller restoration hangars with the remnants of a Wellington bomber, and a Hampden bomber that is slowly being restored. Again, it’s a worthwhile stop for any aviation enthusiast, and certainly has an additional (noisey) attraction that the usual static museum displays can’t boast.
We’d heard through our network of contacts that the following day, there would be a chance to see the two flying Lancasters at the nearby RAF Marham base in Norfolk where the air force were holding a Family Day show on the base.
Our little birdy also told us that the two Lancs would be accompanied by the only flying Avro Vulcan jet bomber (the same type that bombed the Falkland Islands back in 1982), and that this was likely to be one of the only opportunities to see these three big Avro-built aircraft together in the sky. We knew that most people were going to head to RAF Waddington further north to see the three aircraft take-off, but we hoped that the fact that they were going to be at RAF Marham wasn’t so well known. Turns out it was not a total secret as details of the flight of the three aircraft had been released on the internet the day before, so when we arrived there were already plenty of cars (and photographers) starting to park up in the fields surrounding the base, trying to get a good viewing position. Thankfully while there were quite a few people around (several hundred in our general area perhaps), there was still plenty of room for everyone and we all had a chance to find a good viewing spot.
The only blot on the day was the fact that yet again the wind was blowing relatively strongly, and it wasn’t all that warm—the temperature was not really a problem, but the wind does adversely affect us when we’re trying to shoot video. Ah well, we make do with what we get. Around 2:30 the two Lancasters and Vulcan turned up overhead — a very impressive sight, and certainly one that hasn’t been seen before I suspect. Unfortunately the Vulcan only did a single pass and then headed off to the airshow at Clacton further along the coast. The two Lancasters did a somewhat sedate display as they’d done at Shuttleworth last week, but it was still a real treat to see and hear them together again.
Watch out for the video footage on our YouTube channel in a few weeks when we get a chance to edit it up and publish it.