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Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Friday, 20 August 2010 15:03 UK
Avro Lancaster bomber flights recalled by WWII pilot
A Lancaster bomber as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight display
Only two Lancaster bombers remain fit to fly

"It's magnificent to see it. I get rather excited and I want everyone to know that it was the best thing that ever flew."

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight display at the Bournemouth Air Festival this year was particularly important for Derek Driver from Branksome.

He used to fly the World War II Avro Lancaster bomber, which forms part of the air display along with a Spitfire.

Mr Driver, who is 88 in January, flew on over 33 bombing missions.

Phantom of the Ruhr

As a flight engineer, he flew as part of the Lancaster crew in formation with the Lincolnshire-based 550 and 150 squadrons.

The aircraft to his left was always the Phantom of the Ruhr.

Today, that same name appears on the Lancaster on display at Bournemouth.

He said: "I saw that logo every time I went down to the airfield, and it was surprising to say the least [to see it on this plane now]."

Caterpillar club

Mr Driver also took part in the raids on the German city of Dresden in February 1945, destroying an area of 39 sq km (15 sq miles).

He said: "People talk about the raid on Dresden and in a lot of cases they condemn us but it saved a good six months on the end of the war."

On the 28th of his 33 missions his plane caught fire and the crew bailed out.

The pilot and radio operator stayed on board when the fire went out and tried to land but were killed when the plane blew up.

Due to this, he gained membership of The Caterpillar Club - a group of airmen who parachuted to safety and has "the Silkworm" among his many medals.

He said that the memories of the Lancaster will stay with him forever.

He said: "Obviously seeing it brings back memories.

"But the noise of it you never lose and when I go down to the front and I watch it I get carried away."




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