July 14th 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Avro Lancaster bomber at the Edmundston municipal airport. Witnesses still remember the thunder of its four Merlin engines as it flew over Edmundston, before landing one last time at its final resting place at the airport.
A number of events will be planned during the summer to commemorate this anniversary, including an exhibit at the airport terminal, the installation of a flight simulator of KB 882’s flight over Edmundston which will be open to the public and a special commemorative ceremony on July 14th.
Lancaster KB 882 was purchased for $1500 by City Council in the Sixties as a way to pay homage to local veterans. Since then, the bomber has sat as a guardian of the airport by the Trans-Canada Highway, forgotten by time and by the people. It has received little care over the years, which has led to its deterioration. KB 882 is now in a very fragile situation. While the bomber is the property of the City of Edmundston, a few years ago, Council agreed to create the Society for the preservation of the Lancaster to help with the process of caring for her.
“For more than 10 years, a group of volunteers have been trying, through various efforts, to put a roof over the bomber so that restoration work could be started and to give her the care she so desperately needs. However, little support has been found for this project and our old bird’s days are numbered if nothing is done,” says Mychèle Poitras, chairperson of the Edmundston Society for the preservation of the Lancaster.
In its actual position, the Lancaster will soon fold under her weight. This is the conclusion of an airframe analysis done a few years ago by a leading Canadian specialist. Since Canadian laws prohibit the sale of such an important historical artefact, the Society for the preservation of the Lancaster will soon have to consider the offer of a Canadian museum interested in taking the plane to protect and restore her.
According to Mychèle Poitras, all efforts over the past 10 years have been unsuccessful. “It’s incredibly sad to have such an important and unique Canadian symbol in our community, and not be able to take care of her because of a lack of funding. But our mission remains her protection, whether it’s in Edmundston or elsewhere. A decision will need to be made by the end of this year.”
Until then, all efforts will be made to raise the awareness of the community and of governments of the importance of this historical bomber in the history of Canada and of the world. Activities surrounding the 50th anniversary will start around Canada Day.
SOURCE : Society for the Preservation of the Edmundston Lancaster
CONTACT : Mychèle Poitras, Chairperson, 506.737.6799