Goodbye VeRA

This summer the only other airworthy Avro Lancaster in the world, Canada's VeRA, made the massive trek from Hamilton, Ontario, to England to join with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Lancaster here in our very own RAF Conningsby, Lincolnshire. Now I'm no plane buff but even so I was pretty excited about this as I highly doubt it will ever happen again in my lifetime, or ever. However, from the moment she arrived it seemed my chance to see her fly would be plagued with ill-fate for one reason or another. When she arrived in Lincolnshire on 8th August they were supposed to do a flypast of Lincoln Cathedral but it just so happened that at the same time the heavens opened and it was cancelled due to the weather; that was fine by me though as I was at work and unable to leave my desk. I consoled myself with the fact that this was a two month tour and fly pasts were scheduled to take place at a number of the events we were planning on attending this summer. Thanks to the British weather and mechanical issues with VeRA they were all cancelled. 
Photograph courtesy of Michael Hill at

Those two months flew past and before I knew it VeRA was due to fly home on the 23rd August. The day before I had read that a final flypast was scheduled for 10.15am and my heart sank as I had an appointment for 10am which I was certain would not be finished in 15 minutes. That morning I dealt with my appointment as arranged and everyone else went out to witness this historic moment. I wasn't annoyed this time like I was when she had arrived, I was just deflated and had resigned myself to the fact I would never see it happen. I watched the clock and while my appointment took longer than 15 minutes it was relatively quick; no one had come back in the building which meant that it hadn't happened yet, VeRA was true to form and reliable in her unreliability. She was running late! As soon as I was able I was rushing down the corridors hoping to at least catch a glimpse.

When I got outside everyone was still standing with their eyes to the skys; I joined the crowd and was informed that VeRA was running late. The weather was stunning, a far cry from the experience of when they arrived two months previously, the sky was a beautiful shade of blue and the Cathedral, which always looks amazing on the skyline, was standing tall and strong. The atmosphere was lovely as everyone was happy to be sharing the occasion and cracking jokes, particularly when a pair of the numerous swans of Lincoln flew overhead. 

Before we saw anything we heard the engines; the distinctive low thrum. Goosebumps shot up on my arms and we all looked around the sky to see where they were coming which was, in fact, behind us. They headed straight for the Cathedral and watching them fly with that as their landmark again was wonderful. The moment lasted just minutes, if that, and we watched until those great machines were mere dots. During the time they were flying over everyone was pretty much quite but after as we headed back towards our building everyone was chattering. 
Photograph courtesy of Michael Hill at

For me, and some others, it felt really quite emotional and I was just so elated that when I had totally given up seeing them something was on my side. I also felt that what I had just experienced was a tiny glimpse into a past window. The noise was what really struck me and they had even set a couple of car alarms off but back in the war the skies over Lincolnshire would have been filled with them which I couldn't begin to imagine. I also thought of what an experience it must have been for the Canadian crew to come all of this way and how their whole route over the UK would be lined with people, like ourselves, hoping to catch a glimpse and enjoying the historic moment. Those were my thoughts but my heart was with everyone who had lost their lives; the 10,695 servicemen who died while flying with Bomber Command during the Second World War.



  1. I am so glad you finally got to see them. I saw them at Duxford a few weekends ago, I was surprised by just how emotional I got as the flew over, so I can totally relate to the way you were feeling, it really was an amazing experience! x

  2. I think a lot of us got emotional about it too. My friend at work who wasn't expecting to be so moved by it actually had a little cry. It was a wonderful piece of history to witness. So glad you managed to get to see them too!
    Rowena x

  3. Lucky you! I wish to see this once in my life too!