Easter Bank Holiday weekend saw the first major event held by the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby, home of Avro Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’.  This was the inaugural Cockpit Day which the museum had organised, and, along with a number of taxy runs from ‘Jane’ and a Spitfire flying display, this was a fine way to round out the tail end of the ‘off season.’  Greg Marsh reports for GAR.

© Huw Hopkins - Global Aviation Resource

GAR attended the Monday of the event; which was the major day judging by the schedule.

© Huw Hopkins - Global Aviation Resource

In truth there weren’t an awful lot of cockpits that had been gathered – the only visitor on our day was an MT03 Autogyro which was parked up in front of the tower.  That said, with access to the Centre’s own Canberra E15, privately owned C-47 Skytrain ‘Drag ‘Em Oot’ (still in Winter maintenance in the main exhibtion hangar) and the Lanc’ itself, via air stairs, one couldn’t really complain.

© Huw Hopkins - Global Aviation Resource

‘Just Jane’ performed three taxy runs over the course of the day.  The sound of the four mighty merlin engines reverbrating around the air is always nostalgic.  Plans are well afoot for her eventual return to flight and I’m sure most enthusiasts are salivating at the prospect of two Lancasters in formation.

© Huw Hopkins - Global Aviation Resource

Highlight of the day was an appearance by Spitfire Mk.XVIe TD248, which flew in from its Humberside home in the experienced hands of Cliff Spink.  The sun may have been temporarily obscured at this point, but that didn’t take anything away from a scorching display, which highlighted what a impressive airshow venue East Kirkby is.  Cliff showed off the aircraft beautifully, with a series of half cubans, loops, rolls and close topside passes.

© Huw Hopkins - Global Aviation Resource

As always, the full museum was open to the public, including the marvellously restored Control Tower and period nissan huts from where mission briefings were conducted.  It’s sobering to sit in the same building, looking at the same map, that many young men did during the war, wondering whether this would be part of their final hours on earth.  Also available for inspection were the long term Handley Page Hampden and Percival Proctor restoration projects.

© Huw Hopkins - Global Aviation Resource

In all, this was a fine way to spend a Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, in great company with some lovely aeroplanes to look at.  Hopefully the Pantons will be able to build on the success of this event and it will become an annual fixture in the calendar.

© Huw Hopkins - Global Aviation Resource

I encourage anyone who has not yet sampled East Kirkby, to pay them a visit this year, perhaps at one of their other events.  Their major airshow (this year on Sunday 3rd August) always receives rave reviews, and is already shaping up nicely.  Their smaller events throughout the season often offer a flying item or two – in fact, B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Sally B’ is provisionally scheduled to perform for the first time there in July for their 25th anniversary event.

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You can find out more about the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, and keep up to date with the news regarding ‘Just Jane’s’ return to flight, at their website, http://www.lincsaviation.co.uk/.

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