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Hamilton's Lancaster bomber homecoming: What you need to know

09/28/2014 09:15 EDT | Updated 11/28/2014 05:59 EST
Hamilton's Lancaster bomber is expected to arrive in Hamilton around noon Sunday after a tour lasting several weeks in the U.K. The event is expected to draw large crowds of onlookers eager to welcome the plane home. 

Schedule

The plane will land at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, adjacent to the Hamilton International Airport. The museum opens at 9 a.m. The plane's not expected to land until 12 p.m. ET but museum officials suggest arriving early since they expect traffic around the airport as the landing approaches.

Museum CEO David Rohrer will be flying the plane. Once it lands, he'll address the crowd and the public will have a chance to get closer to the plane and meet the crew. 

Rohrer has said the plane will fly over Hamilton, so you might have a chance to catch it if you look up in the sky before noon, but its exact trajectory, and which parts of the city the plane will fly over, were unknown Saturday evening pending other flight traffic, said Al Mickeloff, spokesman for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. 

Homeward journey

The homeward journey has taken a few days, including a couple of delays in Iceland due to weather. The plane arrived in Labrador Friday and in Quebec Saturday. Thousands of people have seen Canada's Lancaster throughout the tour.

Some fans of the bomber snapped photos of the plane's Canadian landing on Friday. 

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The plane is homeward bound after a successful tour in the U.K. But it will also be carrying a hefty $180,000 bill for shipping back the engine it's been borrowing from a British company since one of its four engines shut down a few weeks ago. 

- RELATED: Hamilton Lancaster U.K. tour ends with a $180,000 bill

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The National | The Lancaster Bomber: D-Day's workhorse

The Lancaster was grounded in the U.K. after an engine was shut down mid-flight. Plumes of smoke billowed along the fuselage as it landed at Durham Tees Airport in northern England.

Repairs were done at the airport before the plane flew to Coningsby, 250 kilometres away. Hamilton's Lancaster rejoined the other airworthy Lancaster Bomber.

The last time Lancasters flew together was 50 years ago over Toronto, at RCAF Station Downsview. The RCAF flew a special formation of three of the bombers in April 1964 to mark their retirement from service.

Hamilton's Mynarski Memorial Avro Lancaster Mk X bomber was built at Victory Aircraft in Malton, Ont., in 1945. Used to train air crews and later for coastal patrols and search-and-rescue work, it was retired in 1963.

The museum bought it in 1977 for about $10,000. A team of volunteers led by Norm Etheridge spent 11 years restoring the bomber, and it returned to the air on Sept. 24, 1988.

"On the day of that first flight, we thought we'd get a couple of hundred people at the airfield to watch," says Mickeloff, spokesman for the museum. "About 20,000 showed up."

"Some people thought the Lancaster would never fly again, and when we made it happen, it changed our whole organization," said Al Mickeloff from Hamilton's warplane museum. "The Lancaster is the heart of the museum, and our volunteers do what it takes to keep it going."

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