Aviation Heritage

Lincolnshire has long played a central role in military aviation and this year there is something extra special to celebrate as 2018 marks the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force.  There are many events and exhibitions planned throughout the county to commemorate this, including a small exhibit in our own little museum at the Manor House Stables.  We are commemorating some of our own local heroes and heroines during both the First and Second World Wars.

Lincolnshire attracts thousands of aviation tourists every year with a wealth of things to see and do throughout the county.  The history of aviation in the County is a rich one and includes an important role in the production of early aircraft in the First World War; Lincolnshire based firms (Ruston Proctor & Co. Ltd, Robey & Co Ltd and Clayton & Shuttleworth Ltd), which had been involved in producing agricultural machinery, now produced aircraft. Statistics show that these companies produced more aircraft for the RFC, RNAS and RAF than any other county.  Known as ‘Bomber County’ in the Second World War, many people do not realise the important role it played in the First World War. Few people realise how many airfields existed in Lincolnshire in the First World War.

Lincolnshire is also well-known for its training school at RAF College Cranwell which has been training officers and aircrew since 1920 (Prince Charles and Prince William included!), home to the ‘Dambusters’  (we have our own Dambuster’s Memorial in Woodhall Spa, the Petwood Hotel  in Woodhall Spa served as the Officer’s Mess for the 617 Squadron during WW2 and you can visit the office of Guy Gibson, first Commanding Officer of the Royal Air Force’s No. 617 Squadron, at Scampton, just north of Lincoln), the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in Coningsby (which includes the only flying UK Lancaster Avro along with Spitfires, Hurricanes and more), the home of the Red Arrows, the list goes on! Only just down the road from here is the small lovely little village of Scopwick – but for many people around the world it is a site of pilgrimage. In the cemetery is the grave of John Gillespie Magee, who wrote the poem ‘High Flight’ shortly before being killed in a World War II flying accident, but his poem lived on.

There are many excellent museums including the Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby where you can book a taxy ride on the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’, RAF Scampton where the annual air show is now held and where you can take a tour around the Heritage Centre), Newark Air Museum (about half an hour or so from here), Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum which if full of local interest exhibits including information on ‘Wartime Woodhall’, Thorpe Camp, just outside of Woodhall which is full of interesting exhibits and information cited in huts, and Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre, home to the 106 Squadron in the Second World War – there is now a small museum, shop and events including lectures, wartime weekends and more – and it is just down the road from here!

There are also many special events happening throughout the county including the 1940’s weekend in Woodhall Spa in July, the 1940’s weekend in August in Lincoln, the Air show at the Aviation Heritage Centre in East Kirkby and the Air Show at Scampton or Waddington .







It’s everywhere! Lincolnshire isn’t called Bomber County for nothing! Here’s a list to start with;

  • Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre – just up the road less than a mile
  • Dambuster Memorial – Woodhall Spa
  • Petwood Hotel – Woodhall Spa
  • Thorpe Camp, Tattershall Thorpe. Informative displays about the base’s role in the 2nd World War.
  • Scopwick Commonwealth War Graves cemetery has many airman buried there including 21 year old Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, remembered for his poignant poem ‘High Flight’
  • RAF Digby Camp – small Operations Room museum.
  • Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre at Coningsby – where the Lancaster hangs out. Book a tour – it’s really worth it!  Also home to Spitfires, Hurricanes and a Dakota.
  • RAF Cranwell – a training base existing since the 1st World War. Now training Officers including our young Prince William. Small museum nearby with an exhibition relating to the history of the airfield and college.
  • Scampton – the home of the Red Arrows – if you’re lucky you’ll see them practicing their air displays over Lincoln. The new home for the Air Show which used to be held at Waddington.
  • The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby. Amazing place.  A restored control tower and loads of exhibits and information.  ‘Just Jane’ is the Lancaster there and you can book a ride on it taxying around the airfield.
  • The International Bomber Command Centre just outside Lincoln on Canick Hill.  It consists of a spire, walls and centre that mark the sacrifice of World War II aircrew that lost their lives whilst serving with Bomber Command.  The view through the memorial spire leads directly to Lincoln Cathedral, reflecting the view that let those of Bomber Command know they were almost home from their missions…or provided their last view of home.
  • Newark Air Museum –
  • There are also many other memorials around Lincolnshire including those specifically for the RFC and RAF.

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