A VETERAN of Bomber Command who feared he would miss out on a nostalgic flypast has got his wish for a ticket to the sold-out event.
When former Lancaster navigator Ray Willcock, from Darlington, heard that one of the Second World War planes was visiting Durham Tees Valley Airport later this month, he was keen to join in the commemorations.
He and partner Brenda Whitehead were disappointed to learn that tickets for the August 28 event had sold out within three days of going on sale.
Loading article content
Now aged 92, Mr Willcock flew 42 sorties in Lancasters during the war as part of the famous Pathfinders Squadron, which identified and marked targets using flares, for a follow-up bomber force to attack.
The couple thought they were destined to miss out on the chance to see the Lancaster, named after Canadian airman Andrew Mynarski, who died trying to rescue a colleague after their plane was shot down.
That was when a friend stepped in and posted a message online, explaining the situation.
Within days, tickets for the couple were secured, meaning Mr Willcock will see the Lancaster fly again.
The Lancaster named after Mynarski – who has a memorial statue close to his wartime posting at the airport, a former Royal Canadian Air Force and RAF base – is one of only two still flying in the world.
Owned by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, it is taking part in a two-month tour of the UK.
Mrs Whitehead described how her partner's face 'lit up' when he heard their ticket puzzle had been solved.
She said: "We were both delighted and we are really looking forward to seeing the Lancaster.
"A friend had gone online and explained all about Ray being in the Pathfinders.
"It didn't take long for someone to say they would send tickets, so he did not have to miss out.
"It only took a couple of days, so we are very grateful that we will be able to go.
"Ray's face lit up when he heard, he was absolutely thrilled.
"We had read that all the tickets had gone, so we are very pleased about it."
Mr Willcock worked in the chemical works in Darlington after the war, and has been retired for the past 27 years.
The Lancaster celebration will run from 11am to 6pm, with the flypast scheduled for 3pm.
For more information, visit dtva.co.uk/lancastermynarski or email firstname.lastname@example.org