Canada's last airworthy Avro Lancaster embarks on U.K. tour

After overnight repairs and last-minute runway switch, Canada's last airworthy Avro Lancaster bomber successfully took off from Hamilton this morning to embark on its journey to the U.K.

Bomber successfully takes off after departure delayed by engine issue

The Avro Lancaster, flown and maintained by the Warplane Museum in Hamilton, is one of only two airworthy Lancasters in the world. The bomber took off from the museum on Tuesday for its six-week tour in U.K. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

After overnight repairs and last-minute runway switch, Canada's last airworthy Avro Lancaster bomber successfully took off from Hamilton this morning to embark on its journey to the U.K.

The Second World War-era bomber took off around 10:20 a.m. ET from its home at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, located at Hamilton International Airport. 

The departure was originally scheduled for Monday morning following a brief ceremony, but one of the engines didn't start up and the departure was pushed back. 

Dave Rohrer, president and CEO of the museum, was riding in a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber with a documentary film crew behind the Lancaster when it became airborne. The film crew followed the Lancaster all the way to Oakville's waterfront and got some parting shots, Rohrer said. 

Flight engineer Craig Brookhouse shares a kiss with his girlfriend Analia Moniz before boarding the Lancaster. (Sunnie Huang/CBC)

"[The takeoff] was beautiful," he told CBC News after the B-25 returned to the museum. “It was all you could hope for. The only thing is it could've been a day earlier.” 

The technical issue that delayed Monday's departure was later narrowed down to the magnetos, a common ignition system in airplanes that creates electric current by rotating, Rohrer said.

"It turned out the spark was not as strong as it should be. The mags were a little weak," Rohrer explained, adding that the crew worked overnight until 1 a.m. to repair the engine. 

"I'm just so proud of the crew. They did an awesome job."

The bomber landed in Goose Bay, N.L., shortly after 5 p.m. local time. It will make another stop in Iceland before flying into the Royal Air Force base at Coningsby, in eastern England, on Friday.

Once there, it will embark on a six-week tour of the United Kingdom with the only other airworthy bomber of its kind, a Lancaster belonging to Britain's Royal Air Force.

Over the 1.5-month jaunt, millions are expected to turn out to see the twin Lancasters in action.

'The Lancaster Ladies'

The Lancaster's cross-Atlantic journey has drawn much fanfare to the museum, which opened its doors early to welcome spectators. The lineup on Monday stretched all the way around the museum, and many of the fans returned on Tuesday.

The Lancaster Ladies, led by Sylvia Cook, third from right, returned on Tuesday to say farewell to the bomber. (Sunnie Huang/CBC)
Among the spectators, a group of women who call themselves the “Lancaster Ladies” posed for photos with the crew.

For Sylvia Cook, 67, chasing the Lancaster has been a family tradition. Cook said her mother and the original Lancaster Ladies used to wave their scarves every time they saw a bomber flying by, even though they weren't sure if their boyfriends or husbands were on the plane.

On Tuesday, she brought her own Lancaster Ladies — which included her daughter and a dozen others — to say farewell to the Lancaster.

“Every time I come here and see the Lancaster, it reminds me of the stories my mother used to tell,” said Cook.

You can follow the Lancaster's journey with our live blog below. 


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