Two projects celebrating North Kesteven’s aviation heritage have been awarded money by the District Council.
The Bomber Gateway Trust has been allocated £10,000 towards its ambitious plans to build a Lancaster Bomber replica alongside the A46 in Norton Disney, while the Friends of Metheringham Airfield is being supported with £5,000 to assist the development of a hangar for their Dakota plane.
The Friends of Metheringham Airfield’s Dakota aircraft is currently exposed to the elements, making it difficult to maintain in good condition given its age. The funding will enable the development to go ahead and bring the plane undercover.
The wartime Dakota aircraft that may have flown Winston Churchill and the King was acquired for the Metheringham Airfield museum in 2015.
Volunteers needed around £60,000 to acquire a hangar to store it while it is restored, although this could increase to nearer £150,000 once transportation and other costs are factored in.
John Shipton from the Friends of Metheringham Airfield thanked NKDC for their ongoing support of aviation heritage and said the £5,000 grant would mean a lot. He said: "It will go towards the much-needed hangar to save the Dakota from the elements and for us to do the necessary repairs.
"We are thinking about crowd funding to raise the rest of the money. It is a historic aircraft that needs to be preserved."
The Second World War Douglas DC3 Dakota aircraft was a donation from the RAF Transport Command Memorial, whose volunteers were struggling to complete the restoration task.
Built in 1944, it was once assigned to No24 squadron for VIPs at RAF Hendon and is highly likely to have flown Prime Minister Winston Churchill and King George VI to engagements, as well as possibly serving in the days after D-Day ferrying wounded soldiers to nearby RAF Nocton Hall hospital.
The team of volunteers and experts intended to raise £300,000 to restore it to fly, or at least get the engines going to do taxi runs.
Chairman of the Friends of Metheringham Airfield, Andy Marson, has been a navigator in the Dakota with the Battle of the Britain Memorial Flight until retirement and said at the time: “The Dakota is the biggest Meccano set in the world. They came in parts with no main spar, so the whole thing just bolts together. They were designed to come in crates from the USA and had Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft stencilled on the outside - hence the nickname, Dakota. Its design was so way ahead of its time for the 1930s where many planes were still using canvas and wood, whereas this was all aluminium. Even now they are being used in parts of Africa.”
Both cash injections were approved today (Thursday) by the District Council’s Executive Board.
Coun Richard Wright, Council Leader, said: “Aviation is a key sector within North Kesteven, from businesses, current and former aviation sites and attractions through to active airbases.
“The area has a longstanding relationship with aviation, making it uniquely placed to tell the stories associated with it.
“These two developments will deepen the existing offer in the district and the county as a whole, complementing existing sites and attractions.”
The Lancaster Bomber Gateway Trust is seeking support and funding to construct a life-size Lancaster Bomber, a plane synonymous with Lincolnshire, alongside the A46 as both a gateway to the county, but also to commemorate the crews that flew out of nearby bases, such as the former RAF Swinderby.