Canada's Lancaster bomber returns home after historic U.K. tour
Canada’s only operational Second World War-era Lancaster bomber plane was met by hundreds of cheering onlookers and a Scottish marching band and as it touched down in Hamilton Sunday after a historic aerial tour in the U.K.
The 69-year-old Lancaster landed at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Sunday after flying across the Atlantic to England in early August. As part of its U.K. tour, the Canadian-made Lancaster joined the only other operational Lancaster there. The two bombers performed in numerous air shows and impressed thousands of fans.
“I just want to tell you that this trip has meant a great deal to all of us who have been on it, but more than that, it’s meant a great deal to all of us and all of Canada,” said Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum CEO David Rohrer, who helped to fly the Lancaster across the pond and back.
Rohrer said Canada’s first Lancaster bomber plane flew to the U.K. for the first time in August 1943.
“It was very special in Canada because we have values and beliefs in this country that we hold dear and we defend them, we’ve defended them in the past and we may have to defend them in the future and that act of commitment, service, duty and valour is something required and we should never forget,” Rohrer said.
During the war, the Lancaster was able to carry 22,000 pounds of bombs.
“The Lancaster was a significant warplane, but I also admired what it did after World War II,” Rohrer said. “It dropped 6,600 tonnes of food, it flew on 3,600 missions. It flew 2,900 round trips across the Atlantic in 24 days and repatriated 74,000 POWs at the end of the war. The work this plane did and this airplane will go down in history forever.”
Rohrer said there were a total of 430 Lancaster planes built in Canada, for a total of 7,377 built in both the U.K. and here.
Following the war, more than 200 Lancaster planes remained in service for Arctic reconnaissance and patrol. The Royal Canadian Air Force discontinued the Lancaster in 1964.
Don Schofield, who also helped pilot Canada’s last operational Lancaster across the pond and back, said the emotions he felt from the people who came out to the shows in the U.K. were overwhelming.
“It has been a rolling crescendo of superlatives…we ran out of adjectives to describe the adventure. The comment we kept getting was ‘thank-you’ for bringing it over,” he said.
Paul Sylvah, of Burlington, Ontario, who was at Canada’s Warplane Heritage Museum to welcome the Lancaster home on Sunday, said he was thrilled to see the plane touch down safely.
“We were following its reports almost daily to find out where she was. I’m glad to have it home in one piece,” said Sylvah, whose uncle was killed in a Lancaster bomber 70 years ago.
“Before you even see it, you feel the rumble. It’s just such a feeling of tears of pride. I think it’s amazing what they did to take it there,” said Sylvah’s wife Jan.