If you are interested in aviation history you are in for a treat when you visit Lincolnshire in 2018. It is the Centenary of the RAF and you will be spoiled for choice with all that is going on to celebrate this milestone.
Lincolnshire became known as “Bomber County” in World War ll because of the county’s proximity to Germany and the flatness of the land which was ideal for building airfields. Several airfields are still operational and used by the modern day RAF whilst former airfields, museums and memorials are witness to the bravery of the men and women who served here in more dangerous times.
One of the most exciting projects is the new International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln. Although it has been open to the public since January 2018 the official opening will take place on Thursday April 12th. Situated on Canwick Hill looking out towards Lincoln Cathedral it is a magnificent memorial to all the men and woman who served in Bomber Command in WWll. The Centre consists of a huge spire which is the UK’s tallest war memorial, commemorative panels that list Bomber Command losses in WW11 and the Chadwick Centre which is a state of the art facility that brings to life the experiences people went through during the war.
9 other fascinating places to visit are:
- Lincoln is a good place to start as there is so much going on here this year. As well as the RAF Centenary Celebration Weekend on 11th and 12th August there will be a fascinating exhibition on at The
Collection which tells of Lincolnshire’s contribution to first World War
aviation. This is on from 26th May to 9th
September. Another exciting attraction is the 100 Voices Trail. 100 voices is a collection of personal accounts of both civilian and military connections to the RAF. Each voice will be placed on the wing of a plane and the wings will be placed around the city. Also visit the Airmen’s Chapel in Lincoln Cathedral and the Observatory Tower at
the Castle where Civil Defence Volunteers kept a look out for enemy aircraft.
- RAF Scampton Heritage Centre is a fascinating place to visit and you can find out more about the Dambusters who flew from here. Visit Guy Gibsons office and if you are lucky you may see the Red Arrows practicing. Part of the Bastion in the Air project is taking place here and it is going to be housed in the Dambusters’ Hangar and will feature the recreation of part of an RFC airfield somewhere in France or Flanders in World War l. This runs from 6th April to 24th August. Visitors will need to book in advance as it is still a working RAF base.
- Woodhall Spa, despite the fact that the Dambusters’ famous raid flew out from RAF Scampton, Woodhall Spa has become famous as their eventual home with the Officers Mess based at the Petwood Hotel. There is a great deal of Dambusters’ memorabilia in the hotel especially in The Squadron Bar. It is well worth a visit and a great place to base yourself while exploring Bomber County. There is even a prototype of a bouncing bomb in the hotels gardens. Also visit the Dambusters’ memorial in the centre of the village. On the outskirts of Woodhall is Thorpe Camp which is the site of RAF Woodhall and is now a visitor centre which has displays dedicated to the history of the base. Kill two birds with one stone and go for a meal at the Bluebell Inn down the road from Thorpe Camp. There is a Heroes Bar where many RAF personnel have added their signatures including Prince William.
- Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is not far from Woodhall is RAF Coningsby, the home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which operates six Spitfires. two Hurricanes, a Douglas Dakota and the world famous Avro Lancaster “City of Lincoln”. This is one of only two remaining airworthy Lancaster aircraft in the world. The Visitor Centre is open weekdays.
- Lincolnshire Aviation Centre, East Kirkby. Here you can explore an old airfield, wonder at all the fascinating exhibits that they have and climb aboard a Lancaster called Just Jane and taxy down the runway.
- Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre. A number of exhibits can be seen in the museum including numerous artefacts and recovered items from several aircrafts that were lost on operations from RAF Metheringham
- RAF Digby Lima Sector Operations Room. For a unique experience visit RAF Digby and view the Lima Sector Operations room which was responsible for directing fighter aircraft in the country during the Battle of Britain in 1940.
- Cranwell Aviation Centre, Royal Airforce Cranwell is one of the most famous landmarks in RAF history. It was the first military air academy in the world. To find out more about this historic establishment visit the nearby Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre and enjoy their interactive exhibits.
- The We’ll Meet Again Museum – Freiston Shore, near Boston is a brilliant little museum which has built up by the owners over the years. Originally they went around schools in the county teaching the pupils all about World War ll. The museum has been open six months now and is going from strength to strength and is well worth a visit. Situated on the coast you are able to go and explore the coastal defence structures pill boxes, gun emplacements and anti -aircraft battery as well as exploring the museum.
To find out more visit www.aviationheritagelincolnshire.com