F for Freddie Flies Again

aviation, aviation history

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum near Hamilton Ontario has just introduced a new exhibit. “Virtual Reality Experience – BBC 1943 Berlin Blitz”, produced by the BBC, takes you along on a flight on an AVRO Lancaster as it flies a bombing mission to Berlin in 1943.

On September 3, 1943 BBC reporter Wynford Vaughn-Thomas and soundman Reg Pidsley climbed on board “F for Freddie”, a Lancaster with the No.207 Squadron of Bomber Command. Their flight from RAF Langer in Nottinghamshire was part of a 316 Lancaster raid on the Berlin area. Vaughn-Thomas and Pidsley recorded the sounds of the flight on acetate records including banter amongst the crew and the tense moments of the approach, bomb release and return. 22 Lancasters were lost in the raid but F for Freddie made it home – the aircraft was shot down the following year.

Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and  Reg Pidsley before the flight

76 years later you can relive their experience thanks to the magic of Virtual Reality. Donning the VR glasses takes you back in time as the Lancaster rumbles down a grass runway struggling under the weight of fuel and bomb load to get off the ground. As you look in every direction, you’re immediately immersed in the experience.

The author going back in time

The entire experience lasts for about 15 minutes and covers the flight to Berlin complete with searchlights, flak and enemy fighters and all the time you’re hearing the actual crew chatter that was recorded so many decades ago. As flak bursts around you it’s impossible not to get caught up and think of how terrifying it must have been for these young fliers. You share their relief when the coast of England comes into view and a crew member breaks into song.

CWHM is the first location in North America to host this exhibit and it is a perfect prelude to seeing the museum’s own Lancaster VRA, one of only 2 left flying in the world.


Virtual Reality Experience is FREE with admission. Regular admission rates are Adult (18 – 64) $15, Senior (65+) $13, Student (13 – 17) $13, Youth (6 – 12) $10. Free admission for museum members.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage museum is located at 9280 Airport Road
Mount Hope, Ontario – right beside Hamilton International Airport.


Oshkosh, Space

New Shepard launch

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh announced that commercial space company Blue Origin will be showing it’s space flown, reusable New Shepard rocket and astronaut crew capsule will be a star attraction at Boeing Plaza during this year’s event from July 24 – 30.

EAA CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton said, “EAA AirVenture Oshkosh has always showcased innovation, imagination and achievement in flight, which makes Blue Origin’s presence at Oshkosh an excellent fit. As we salute the accomplishments of the Apollo program this year at AirVenture, it is also fitting that we welcome an organization that is developing the next step in the future of manned spaceflight.”

“We are very excited to come to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017 and showcase our reusable New Shepard rocket and crew capsule so everyone can experience what it’s like to be an astronaut,” said Rob Meyerson, president of Blue Origin. “We hope to inspire the explorers of tomorrow, the ones who will help us achieve Blue Origin’s goal of millions of people living and working in space.”

In honor of EAA’s Space Day on July 28, Blue Origin will give away branded merchandise to the first 1,000 visitors to the exhibit on Boeing Plaza beginning at 12:30 p.m.

About Blue Origin

Blue Origin, LLC (Blue Origin) is a private company developing vehicles and technologies to enable commercial human space transportation. Blue Origin has a long-term vision of greatly increasing the number of people that fly into space so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system. www.blueorigin.com.

About EAA

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is a growing and diverse community of more than 200,000 aviation enthusiasts who promote and support recreational flying. Founded in 1953 by a group of individuals who were interested in building their own airplanes, EAA expanded its mission of growing participation in aviation to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters, and contemporary manufactured aircraft. The organization is headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and hosts the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in convention every July. For more information, www.eaa.org.