With the year 2006 fast approaching, I thought I'd look at where we are nearly twenty years after being formed to look after Lancaster FM-159.
I, like the others who were involved in forming the Nanton Lancaster Society, initially had one basic objective, which was to preserve the old bomber. It was looking sad and needed a lot of TLC.
We concentrated on cleaning it up and making it an outdoor attraction for tourists traveling up and down #2 highway. During this process we learned more about the history of this WWII bomber. Former aircrew stopped to go up into the Lanc. They told stories - of wartime operations they had participated in - of friends who had given their lives in that terrible war - of an aircraft that had returned them safely from the hell of war.
Without many of us realizing, our focus was changing. It was not just the old bomber we were preserving but also the history of the individuals who had served in those bombers during the war. Today our focus is preserving the history of Bomber Command and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
Preserving the WWII aircraft and other artifacts in our collection is still very much part of our effort, as they are symbols of that history.
Preservation of the history that the Lancaster, Blenheim, Harvard, Cornell, and other museum aircraft represent, took a giant step forward this past year. The construction and dedication of the Memorial Wall enshrines the names of all those Canadians who perished while serving with these aircraft for freedom's sake.
All this would not have happened without the continuing support of membership and the efforts of many dedicated volunteers, many of whom are no longer with us. To all of those past and present we owe a debt. May the present volunteers carry on to even greater things.
If you haven't yet visited our museum and the Memorial Wall, make it a destination - bring a friend!