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The Windsor Star: September, 2007

The Lancaster: Another important step

The restoration of Windsor’s Lancaster Bomber FM212 took another welcome step forward on the weekend when the historic airplane was given a new home in a temporary hangar at the airport. It's been a long, and sometimes troubled, voyage to get to this point, but there’s now real optimism that the Second World Warera plane will be preserved for future generations.

And there’s no more fitting symbol of this community than the Lancaster. It speaks for Windsor’s proud war history and the selfless sacrifice of thousands of local residents who were willing to put their lives on the line to preserve freedom and democracy.

During the war, 7,377 Lancasters were built, and about half were lost. The planes flew on 156,000 operations, and while the Lancaster was the most famous and successful heavy bomber, it was also used for thousands of sorties to drop food to starving Dutch citizens living under Nazi occupation near the end of the war. The first Lancaster to deliver food — Bad Penny — was piloted by Windsor’s Bob Upcott, and it’s more than fitting that FM212 has been renamed Bad Penny to honour the late Upcott and his crew.

Just a few years ago, Windsor’s Lancaster — one of only a handful left in the world — was deteriorating atop a pedestal in Jackson Park. Now thanks to a $40,000 donation from Ottawa aircraft enthusiast Michael Potter, restoration volunteers can carry out their work in the protected environment of the new hangar.

The Canadian Historical Aircraft Association is also trying to raise $1 million to $2 million to fully restore the Lancaster over the next 10 years, and that goal will hopefully be attained given the strong support the restoration project has already received from community groups, businesses and individuals.

Hopefully, by the time the Lancaster’s engines roar again, and the plane is restored to taxiing condition, another project will be well underway — the creation of a permanent museum to house the Lancaster. A place where both the plane and our wartime history will get the prominent display they deserve.