AN ICONIC bomber named in honour of a Canadian airman memorialised at a former North-East RAF base will visit the UK this summer – but will it come to our region?
The Lancaster is arguably one of the most famous symbols of the Second World War - but there are only two left in air-worthy condition.
One stands to the memory of Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski VC who was shot down over France in June 1944 after taking off from RAF Middleton St George, now Durham Tees Valley Airport.
He died from his injuries, but was awarded the Commonwealth’s highest honour for gallantry, after helping save the life of his colleague, who was trapped in the stricken aircraft.
A memorial statue to the hero stands proudly at the George Hotel, close to the airport, the result of a campaign by enthusiasts.
In August, the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster will fly to the UK, from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Musem, in Ontario.
It will be based at RAF Coningsby, in Lincolnshire, taking part in numerous engagements during its month-long tour, alongside a UK-based preserved Lancaster, before returning home in September.
However, it remains to be seen whether the bomber named in honour of one of the North-East’s adopted war heroes will call at the place where Mynarski started many of his daring missions.
Edsel Amlin, whose parents Jimmy and Betty campaigned and raised funds for the Mynarski statue, said it is unthinkable that the Lancaster named in his honour can come to the UK and not visit the former RAF base at Middleton St George.
It is more than 50 years since two Lancasters flew together and the sight of two flying in formation would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The Mynarski Memorial Lancaster was built in 1945 and used to train air crews in the post-war years, as well as for coastal patrols and rescue work, before being retired in 1963.
It was bought by the Canadian museum in 1977, restored by volunteers, returned to the skies in 1988 and has been flown regularly ever since.
Many hurdles will need to be overcome if the memorial Lancaster is to visit the region, but if the successful effort to build Mynarski’s statue proves one thing, it is the value of a determined and committed campaign.