Horncastle’s very own Dambusters hero George ‘Johnny’ Johnson was back on duty today (Friday) to greet the amazing arrival of a Canadian Lancaster bomber at RAF Coningsby.
Mr Johnson is the last British survivor of the famous Second World War mission when Lancaster bombers destroyed German dams in a daring nighttime raid.
He was at today’s welcome party with his grandson Richard and great grandson George.
Bad weather had threatened to spoil everyone’s day and there were fears at one stage that the Canadian Lancaster would be forced delay its arrival by 24 hours.
The famous aircraft had flown across the Atlantic to ‘team up’ with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster at Coningsby.
From early morning, hundreds of people lined the approaches to the air base, looking for good vantage points.
Many businesses in Coningsby were decked out with Canadian flags.
A number of Lancaster ‘veterans’ from the Second World War were among the invited guests.
The BBMF’s own Lancaster was due to take off just after mid-day to ‘escort’ the Canadian aircraft into the base.
The Red Arrows were also due to take part in the event but heavy rain threw the carefully-laid plans into confusion.
Eventually, the BBMF plane ‘taxied’ onto the runaway to wait for the Canadian aircraft which eventually touched down just after 2pm.
Big crowds had lined the centre of Lincoln, expecting a fly past, but the weather caused the bomber to divert and it flew in directly over Horncastle.
There was loud applause from the crowds at Coningsby when it landed and the rain miraculously stopped, seconds after touch down.
However, the Canadian plane then encountered problems with its brake system and had to be hauled into its final position.
Onlooker Ian Payne said: “I’ve travelled with my kids from Derby for this. We’re soaked and hungry but it’s been well worth it.
“Two Lancasters together...we’ve seen history being made. I’m pretty certain this won’t happen again.”
One of the first people to greet the Canadian crew was Horncastle councillor Bill Aron in his role as chairman of Lincolnshire County Council.
He said: “It’s a fantastic sight seeing the two Lancasters. It is a shame about the weather but it has still been a great day.”
*For an exclusive interview with Johnny Johnson - and more exclusive words and pictures - make sure you get your copy of the Horncastle News next Wednesday.