This photo of an Avro Lancaster Bomber over Eastbourne was taken during the town’s 2013 Airbourne show. Its fly past was accompanied by a Spitfire and a Hurricane and was, with the possible exception of the Red Arrows, the highlight of the day’s show.
What is it about these machines that can cause such emotions in me as they roar over head?
They are machines of war, designed to kill. The Lancaster Bomber in particular was an indiscriminate killer. Yet the surge of pride and patriotism I feel when I see them is always there. I guess my upbringing has a lot to do with it. My Dad’s interest in war meant there were always cheesy war movies to watch, which were mostly British or American propaganda. Clearly the message presented in those movies made its mark on me as a youngster.
I guess for me they represent events on a scale I can barely comprehend, that required ordinary people to do extraordinary things. The ingrained thought of brave Britain standing alone, with stiff upper lip and a cup of tea. Of a time where all the people of this country came together to fight against evil. A belief that somehow things were better back then.
I’ve read a considerable number of even-handed and factual books about war since. I know now that the reality of those days were much different to the fantasy that wells up inside when these planes fly past. Yet they still persist, immovable and unchangeable deep down.
I suppose that is patriotism.
The main display took place along the seafront, so where we were, on Beachy Head over looking Eastbourne, we felt a bit removed from the display at first. Then the Hurricane flew over just 100m above us. And the pilot waved. For a brief moment I felt a bit like Christian Bale’s character did during this scene in Empire of the Sun.
For once I wasn’t taking photos when the pilot did that, or I would have missed it. He did fly back over though, so I got him then.
As always you can click on the photos to view them full size, one on Panoramio and the other on Flickr.