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A day to remember: The Lancaster Bomber returns to Goderich

By Kathleen Smith

On the weekend of June 14 and June 15, the Lancaster Bomber returned to Goderich after 60 years.

This aircraft is one of two remaining Lancaster Bombers that are in flying condition.

Upwards of 8,000 to 10,000 visited Goderich on Friday, June 14, while another 4,000 came to get a glimpse of the Lancaster Bomber at the Goderich Regional Airport on June 15.

“This day also recognizes the sacrifices that those who fought for our freedom, gave their lives. I think all of us are very thankful and mindful of that today,” pointed out Glen McNeil, Warden of Huron County.

“The number of interested people lined up today – this is a day that many people will cherish as a memory for life.”

Along with the Goderich Legion, hundreds of volunteers were involved in pulling off this enormous event.

Mayor Trevor Bazinet applauded the diligent work and focus of Legion’s President Randy Carroll, who is also a Goderich Councillor.

Carroll was instrumental in organizing the event.

Built in 1945, when the war was ending in Europe, she soon went into storage. Eventually the aircraft was re-rolled into maritime rescue and during one mission it landed heavy in Trenton and damaged the main centre section.

She soon received a new centre section and flew for another 19 years.

Finally, a decision was made to make her retire in 1956 and came to Goderich to be a gate guardian and be retired for her entire life.

“Who could have ever believed that 60 years to the day that this airplane was flown to Goderich by the Royal Canadian Airforce to be retired, who could believe 60 years later she would return from the skies,” said David Rohrer, President and CEO at Canadian Warplane Museum.

“What really gives me great thought about this airplane, this airplane is the last flying Canadian built Lancaster of 430. She has a destiny that exceeds any of us in this room.”

From 1964 to 1977 she served as a gate guardian for the Town of Goderich, until the RCAF took the aircraft back to Hamilton to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum where she was fully restored to flying glory.

Finally, it was in September of 1988 she  flew again after years of being mounted in Goderich.

“Think of all the lives that might have been impacted by her service and by those who maintained her and flew her, and the missions she went on both in surveillance and perhaps rescue,” added Rohrer.

According to Rohrer when the RCAF attempted to fly the plane back to Hamilton, the helicopter struggled a few times, and the plane almost went into Lake Huron.

Furthermore, in 1993 the museum had a devastating fire where they lost a lot of airplanes, but the Lancaster survived yet again. As Rohrer mentioned, the Lancaster has a destiny greater than is known.

“This has been a tremendous event for us to celebrate the RCAF 100th anniversary,” Rohrer added.

“When you think about today, think about all the hands that graced this airplane, maintained her, flew her, restored her and kept her safe so she could be with us today. We fly it with a steward’s heart.”

According to Rohrer, during the war, your best odds of completing your 30 operations on the Lancaster was about 40 per cent.

If you were crew or bomber command, of the more than 120,000 that served in bomber command, 55,573 didn’t come home. Out of that, 10,695 were young Canadians in the prime of their life, answering the call of duty in a time of need to fight an enemy that wanted to destroy the world.

“We fly her in memory of that service, duty and sacrifice,” added Rohrer.

“That’s why it’s an honour for us to fly this Lancaster and represent that heritage.”


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