I live close to Exeter airport, so while I was in my kitchen yesterday afternoon, I rushed out of my back door several times to watch the Red Arrows as they hurtled past, just a few hundred feet above my garden. I never grow tired of watching these scarlet formations flash through the sky and I never grow tired of hearing the shattering thunder of their engines as it echoes over the countryside, but yesterday, another miracle appeared in the skies above me.

I can’t describe the noise and in any event, there’s no need for me to try to do so, as you can hear it for yourselves on the video above. When I heard it, low over my roof, I somehow knew it was very different and very special, and when I gazed up, I saw the astonishing sight of a WWII Lancaster bomber as it prepared to land at the nearby airport. I’ve never seen one of these aircraft before, so I was simply thunderstruck to witness one of the last survivors briefly hanging in the air above me and a hundred images from war films went through my mind at the same time.

Most of all, though, I had cause to remember my uncle, Albert Warren, who had flown Spitfires in WWII, then gone on to be a navigator in Lancasters as huge formations of these bombers flew through the night skies over occupied Europe. My uncle was one of those young men fortunate enough to return home and I spent endless hours asking him about his time flying combat missions when I was a kid in the late 1960s. My uncle and all the thousands of other young men like him were all braver than I’ll ever be and it was a privilege to see for myself one of the aircraft in which they once flew into the night, not knowing if they’d seen their last sunrise.

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6 Responses to LANCASTER BOMBER AT EXETER 14 08 2008

  1. Juris Ozols says:

    Dennis –

    You bring back a memory. Some years ago I had occasion to be near a local airport where they were holding an airshow. As I drove past a B-17 and a B-24 flew overhead in formation only a few hundred feet up. An amazing sight. I stopped the car right on the road and got out to watch, as did other people.

    The Lancaster is of course of the same vintage and only a very few of those aircraft remain. I hope they keep flying forever.



  2. Austin says:

    The Lancaster usually performs a flyover with a Spitfire and a hurricane at the Bournemouth air show, which is next weekend. I can not effectively describe the feeling of seeing and hearing these three planes each year at the show. It usually involves a shiver that starts at the base of my spine and a feeling of comfort, of feeling protected. I echo your sentiments entirely Dennis to those who ‘soared’ in the face of true evil.

    My father worked at British Aircraft Corporation in the 1960s on Concorde amongst other planes and weapons systems and his enthusiasm for the red arrows and their unique brand of stardust rubbed off on me. I am looking forward to the 3 day show next weekend. The temper mental Vulcan and Tornado usually perform as well.


    • Angie Lake says:

      I expect the Lancaster was on the way to Dawlish Air Day, and – living so close – I’d have loved to see it there, but guess I’d have made a fool of myself with tears in my eyes and a giant lump in my throat thinking of the war and all those brave airmen.
      I grew up near RAF Chivenor in N.Devon and my dad worked there as groundsman for 25years, so jet fighter planes were a common sight. (As were the yellow Rescue helicopters!) Ahh… that reminds me of walking towards Kes Tor over desolate Shovel Down on Dartmoor last year, with a Chinook clattering past slowly… magic!

      I remember the thrill of excitement we used to feel when we saw [and heard!] Concorde fly over in its heyday, but the one that always gets to me is the Vulcan bomber.
      A couple of years ago it flew at Dawlish Air Day (as did the Red Arrows), and simply blew everyone away with its power and grace. Hundreds of people stood gazing up at this huge V-shaped machine, wondering how it ever got aloft, while the thrust of its powerful engines as it turned to rise up in the sky vibrated through our bodies and the ground we stood on.
      A truly amazing, awesome plane.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Past Rambles says:

    I was lucky enough to see two Lancasters flying together at the Dunsfold air show yesterday – majestic.


    • eternalidol says:

      I learned yesterday that both Lancasters had arrived at Exeter and one of my neighbours has a photo that I’ll try to post – I only saw and heard the one bomber, but it was a sight to stir the soul.

      Having said that, Past Rambles, I have another post that might be more in keeping with your interests, so I’ll try to publish it later tonight.


  4. Juris Ozols says:

    You folks interested in Lancasters should take a look at the artwork on the this link. Some amazing images.



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