Hamilton

Have you seen Bunny? Stuffed 'good luck charm' falls from Lancaster bomber mid-flight

Jim Maginnis placed his family's lucky stuffed animal between two guns on the bomber for a photo opportunity — but when the Lancaster took a turn, Maginnis said, Bunny flew out and into the sky.

Jim Maginnis brought 'Bunny' aboard a flight on the vintage WWll bomber

The Maginnis family's sentimental, stuffed bunny was flying in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Lancaster when the plane turned, sending Bunny out into the sky. (Jim Maginnis)

Flying was nothing new to 'Bunny' — she had been up in air force helicopters and jets before. But the stuffed rabbit took its last flight on Saturday when it disappeared from a vintage WWII Lancaster bomber. 

Bunny opted for a quick exit route, according to passenger Jim Maginnis, as he posed her for a photo in one of the plane's turrets, and she flew out and into the sky over Burlington. 

And just like that, his family's good luck charm, which had been on adventures from Spain to Germany to Afghanistan, was gone. He and his daughter Victoria have posted on Facebook in the hopes that by some miracle, the beloved, fluffy bunny can find its way home. 

I just kept saying I can't believe she fell out of the plane. It's ridiculous.- Victoria Maginnis, official owner of Bunny

Maginnis, a 58-year-old squadron leader in the Royal Air Force, was visiting his 26-year-old daughter Victoria, who had moved to Canada a couple of years ago from the U.K.

She saw that Hamilton's Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum had opportunities for people to go up in a Lancaster — one of the only two still flying in the world. And Maginnis, who was fascinated with the plane after a stint as a squadron historian in the 90s, said he jumped at the chance. 

There was a pop

Victoria surprised him with Bunny just before he was getting on the plane. She had done that before, having sneaked Bunny into his navigation bag in 2009 when Maginnis served in Afghanistan. 

"I was tired, I was miserable, I was fed up," he said. "And there [Bunny] was, just sitting in the middle of Kandahar, looking up at me." 

Jim Maginnis said that Bunny made a break from The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Lancaster bomber — one of only two Lancasters in the world still flying. (Submitted/CWHM)

When the Lancaster took off and passengers were able to walk around, Maginnis saw the main upper gunner turret —a glass dome at the top of the plane about halfway back. Thinking it would be a perfect photo opportunity for Bunny, he balanced the stuffed animal between the guns and took a picture — but she wouldn't stay there for long. 

"I hadn't realized the fact that it was an un-pressurized aircraft and there's open gun-ports, where the guns would have traversed up and down," he said. "The pilot put the aircraft into a turn, the slipstream changed, and there was sort of a pop, and Bun' had gone." 

Maginnis said the moment was heartbreaking — the stuffed animal had been with his daughter for 25 years, including moments like her first day of school, family vacations, and her move to Toronto, and had accompanied him on numerous other flights.

"You're two-and-a-half thousand feet in a Lancaster doing about a 150-160 knots — and there's not a thing you can do. It's not like being in a car where you can stop and pick it up."

Victoria Maginnis snuck the family's good luck charm into her dad's bag when he was dispatched to Afghanistan. Pictured above is Bunny sitting on his helmet. (Jim Maginnis)

He searched all around the turret and inside in case Bunny was there, but the stuffed rabbit was nowhere to be found.

Telling his daughter was perhaps the worst part of it all. 

"It was the most awful experience of my life," he said. "There were tears on both sides."  

For Victoria, the story is now a part of Bunny's journey. 

"I wasn't angry — I was a little bit upset. But I just kept saying I can't believe she fell out of the plane," she said. "It's just a little bit ridiculous...there's a story there. I'd rather this happen than I left her on a train. It's a bit of adventure." 

Bunny had been with Victoria Maginnis throughout important moments in her life, from her first day of school to her move to Toronto. (Victoria Maginnis)

Dave Rohrer, CEO of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, was piloting the Lancaster on Saturday. He said he was "confident" the bunny didn't leave the airplane during the flight — but when he and a colleague searched the plane, they didn't find anything. 

The plane took off and went over the museum, toward Ancaster and turned and followed the north shore over water by Hamilton Harbour and over Burlington. 

"We did a good look to see if we could help them and find the rabbit, but we're at a loss as well," he said. "This is a mystery for us for sure."  

The fastest stuffed bunny in the world

While the likelihood of the rabbit being found is slim, Victoria has posted on social media and used online flight trackers to try and figure out when and where Bunny went missing. Others have stepped in to help as well, from sharing photos to trying to help match up the times on her father's pictures. 

They're guessing that Bunny went missing just after 1:19 p.m. and flew out above Burlington. And while the wind could take the adventurer anywhere, Victoria's still hoping for the best. 

The posts aren't about "expecting anyone to go on any specific hunt, but if anyone's walking their dog or taking the bins out, just to keep an extra eye out," she said. 

Jim Maginnis put his navigation skills to work by plotting times consistent with pictures taken by his iPhone during the flight. The purple circle is the picture of Bunny, and the yellow circle is after Bunny disappeared. (Victoria Maginnis)

If anyone does happen to find her, Victoria has set up an email — findbunny2019@gmail.com — for any sightings.

Either way, Victoria and Jim Maginnis say Bunny will go down in history as "very well travelled, very well loved" and "probably the fastest stuffed bunny in the world." 

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