EAST KIRKBY: Military aerodrome later private airfield
Note: This picture (2009) was obtained from Google Earth ©
The outline of the WW2 aerodrome can still be seen, and the later extension to runway 08/26 especially so.
Note: Picture by the author.
Military users: WW2: RAF Bomber Command 5 Group
57 & 630 Sqdns (Lancasters)
Location: S of A155, just SE of East Kirkby village, 4nm SW of Spilsby, 5.5nm SE of Horncastle
Period of operation: Military: 1943 to 1970 Civil: 1980s to -
Runways: WW2: 02/20 1829x46 hard 08/26 1280x46 hard
12/30 1280x46 hard
Note: The 08/26 runway was later extended to 2410 metres.
NOTES: To quote from Kevin Wilsons account in his excellent book Bomber Boys: “From Scampton 57 Sqn departed in its Lancasters to the new base of East Kirkby 29 miles away. Villagers today, (Bomber Boys was first published in 2005), remember the summer Sunday lunchtime the Lancasters arrived, roaring over cottage roofs into the circuit of the new airfield and performing an impromptu display as they were called down one by one onto the unsullied concrete.”
Two nights later as Mr Wilson explains, “31 August, the same Lancasters had lined up for Berlin.” He then goes on to explain, “The Lancasters of 57 Sqn would in fact fly the most sorties to Berlin of any 5 Group Sqn and share with 44 Sqn the highest losses, losing sixteen aircraft in twenty raids. The Main Force that flew out that night was entirely composed of Lancasters after the heavy losses from Stirling and Halifax squadrons. It did reduce the attrition, 22 failing to return from 316….but still a 7 per cent rate.”
LINCOLNSHIRE AVIATION HERITAGE CENTRE
Records show that the Lincolnshire Aviation Society, later Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre were based here circa 1988 and ‘possessed’ a Hawker Hunter F.4 XE677 on loan from Loughborough University. Other records show that a rare Payne Knight Twister fuselage frame was also stored here before going to BREIGHTON. In recent years the site has been, mainly due to the efforts of two brothers, restored to resemble an operational WW2 bomber base complete with a Lancaster, (NX611) that can taxy with fare paying passengers on board. Rumour has it that the main wheels have very occassionaly lifted off once or twice!
The AAIB report EW/G2007/06/08 clearly shows that GA activity was taking place here until at least 2007.
An article in Popular Flying magazine, in Dec 2007 well describes how a visit to the LAHC in a light aircraft can be arranged. Without any runway markings an area of grass about 1000 metres long is available on 06/24. However, in 2017 the runway, if the same (?), was described as being part grass and part concrete. But, only the grass part should be used.
A VISIT IN 2003
In January 2022 Mr Martin Pole kindly sent me this account and picture. He had had the use of the SOCATA Rallye 150ST, G-BERA, so: "....with its short field performance in mind I immediately thought of making a visit to East Kirkby where I had been lead to believe a short grass and concrete area was available. When I phoned the museum for details/PPR the only landing area offered was on the eastern part of the former RAF airfield (with remaining section of hard runway)."
"On the proposed day of our visit the motor industry would be using the main runway so we were invited to use the southern taxyway. This we did and apart from some nose wheel shimmy the landing was uneventful. It was a fairly long walk to the museum site where we paid the landing fee which was collected on behalf of the eastern site landowners. The image shows the Rallye parked at the end of the southern taxyway. Our departure was made via the main runway as the vehicle testing had ceased for the day."
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