I was privileged to accompany my father, Alf Thompson, to last weekend’s Shoreham RAFA Airshow veterans’ area.
We were looked after in style and on his behalf, I would like to thank all the organisers of the show for a truly memorable day, full of nostalgia.
The highlight of the show for us was the flypast of the Lancaster Bomber. Dad served with 57 Squadron RAF Bomber Command as a rear gunner in a Lancaster during the Second World War.
It was an emotional moment for him and a proud one for me and my family, and I am sure for everyone who was watching, it filled you with admiration and a sense of pride as the last remaining Lancaster to fly from this country silenced the spectators during its flypast.
It is hard to imagine that more than 3,500 Lancasters were lost during the Second World War. Dad carried out 37 sorties as a rear gunner at the tender age of 18 and, thankfully, he survived and is now 90.
Earlier this year, I experienced a tail-down ‘taxy’ ride in a Lancaster at the Aviation Heritage Centre RAF East Kirkby Lincolnshire, home to both 57 and 630 Squadron, where Dad flew from.
I sat in the rear gunner’s position during the ride, along with other visitors who sat in the remaining positions within the aircraft. When the four Merlin engines started and we began to move forward on to the runway for our ride up, down and around the airfield, the feeling was indescribable, except we knew we would all return to the base safely.
Bomber Command is being recognised at long last. Visitors to the airshow watching the Lancaster flypast cannot help but be moved by its presence. The Aviation Centre in Lincolnshire is where anyone can go and book an unbelievable tail down flight experience for themselves.
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