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The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster bomber, known as Vera, returned to the Southern Ontario skies on Canada Day.
It was her first public flight since 2019 and much anticipated in the area. The museum, based at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton (Mount Hope), Ont., operates the only flying Lancaster in North America, while the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight operates the only other flying example in the United Kingdom.
After a long and extended maintenance schedule and further delays caused by the closure of the museum for over two months due to COVID-19, the Lancaster was able to complete a successful tour of Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Toronto and the north shore of Lake Ontario.
Jubilant spectator commentary was overhead at the airport: “It’s lovely to hear the sound of Merlins over Mount Hope once more,” and, “that is a fitting tribute on Canada Day.”
Special markings can be seen on the port side of Vera, in particular the Canadian Forces Snowbirds 50th anniversary crest, which has been applied in honour of Capt Jennifer Casey, Snowbirds public affairs officer, who tragically lost her life in Kamloops, B.C.
Casey was flying with the team during Operation Inspiration, a cross-country tour designed to encourage, pay respect to and inspire Canadians and frontline workers during the pandemic. Capt Casey had worked closely with the museum during its annual Charity Airshow in Brantford, Ont., both as public affairs officer for the CF-18 Demo Team and the Snowbirds. In 2019, a special flight was arranged that saw the nine-jet Snowbirds team fly in formation with the Lancaster; a unique sight indeed.
The museum just recently reopened to the public and the hangar was bustling with masked patrons. COVID-19 protocols are in place and all attendees are advised to wear a mask and practise social distancing from non-family members. The cafe is open, serving meals on a temporary patio next to the museum’s ramp area.
In uncertain times it’s nice to see a little ray of hope return to the skies.