AN ICONIC war plane with ties to the region is expected to touch down at a North-East airport when it flies from Canada to Britain this summer.
The Mynarski Memorial Lancaster is expected to stop over at Durham Tees Valley Airport - the former RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force base at Middleton St George near Darlington - in August.
The Lancaster is expected to land and stay for 24-hours, giving enthusiasts the chance to see it up close.
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The stopover comes as part of the Lancaster’s 2014 UK tour organised by The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which has housed the plane since 1977.
The bomber was named in honour of Canadian airman Andrew Mynarski VC, who flew from Middleton St George during the Second World War and died after making an heroic attempt to rescue a fellow crewman when they were shot down over France in June 1944.
A statue dedicated to Mr Mynarski now stands at the airport.
Historian and aircraft enthusiast Stan Howes, of Darlington, has published a book about the base’s history and wrote to the chief executive of the Canadian museum to ask if it was possible for the Memorial Lancaster to visit the site during its tour.
This week he received a letter agreeing to his request and he described the news as “wonderful”.
Mr Howes said: “The aircraft took off on June 13/14 1944 and even now the runways, taxiways and pub outside where the lads used to drink are all there waiting for the squeal of tyres that would herald the return of VRA (the Lancaster).”
Mr Howes said that he is now trying to rearrange a holiday so that he can be in Middleton St George for the plane’s visit.
Throughout August the aircraft will join the only other airworthy Lancaster in the world, which is owned and operated by the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).
The planes will participate in flypasts and stop overs across the country.
Mr Howes said: “It will be emotional. To see two Lancasters flying – the wheel will have turned full circle.
“I wouldn’t walk to the end of the street to see a Tornado or a Eurofighter but I’d trudge ten miles to see a Spitfire or a Lancaster because they are from my era.”
*A concert by the Band of the RAF College will include a celebration of Mr Mynarski’s bravery.
It takes place at Darlington Civic Theatre on May 30 at 7.30pm and tickets cost from £16.