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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Spitfire and Dakota fly overs highlight of Carlisle museum's open day

A special salute was given to our war veterans as two historic aircraft took to the skies above Carlisle yesterday.

Hundreds of families turned out to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at the Solway Aviation Museum, in the grounds of Carlisle Airport.

It featured a lone World War Two Spitfire, followed by a massive Dakota transport plane.

Hundreds gathered to watch the two aircraft, from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, take off from the nearby runway, then stood openmouthed to witness stunning aerial displays directly above the museum and its exhibits.

The flying display was just one of a host of attractions at museum, which opened its doors to the public for free to celebrate its own Veterans Day.

This included a World War Two camp with authentic vehicles, guns and uniforms, staged by the Victory in Europe Re-enactment Association (VERA).

The museum itself was open to the public, as were all of its aircraft – including its star attraction, a Vulcan bomber.

Families spent all day at the museum, many picnicking on the grass in the sunshine.

Overall, the weather was glorious but at one point, just after the Dakota had finished its flight, the heavens opened for a torrential shower.

Visitors ran for cover underneath the wings of aircraft and staff even handed out free umbrellas for those unable to find adequate shelter.

But after about five minutes the rain subsided, leaving the crowds free to enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the sun.

George Kerr, the Solway Aviation Society’s communications director, said it had been a huge success and everyone was delighted to see so many medal-clad veterans turning out to salute the flypast.

“We have been absolutely mobbed with people. It’s been overwhelming but brilliant. We couldn’t be more delighted with the response,” he said. “The flypast has been a big factor. Getting that is a real feather in our cap and took a lot of organising, but there’s been so much going on we’ve had people here all day.”

He gave special thanks to RAF liaison officer Carol Bell for making it all possible.

Among the visitors were Val Harrison and her family, from nearby Irthington. She regularly visits the museum with grandson Kane, 10, but said many people didn’t realise what a hidden gem it was.

She hopes the Veteran’s Day will help put it on the map and encourage more schools to bring their pupils along.

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