Historic Airfields

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center-East Kirkby

March 30, 2019

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center-East Kirkby is a privately operated and owned Museum that was established by two brothers, Harold and Fred Panton. The Museum was built as a memorial for and tribute to Bomber Command and their older brother Christopher who was killed during a British bombing raid over the German city of Nuremberg in March 1944.

The brothers wanted to visit their brother’s grave in Germany but father Panton told them not to do so as he wanted “nothing to do anymore with the bloody war”. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Mr. Panton asked his son Fred to “go to Germany and bring home a photograph of Christopher’s grave”. It goes without saying that Fred did so as soon as he had a chance.

These memorable days reignited Fred’s interest in all that had happened in War War II and when finally the Avro Lancaster NX611 Bomber was for sale, it was bought by the Panton brothers and brought back to their field in East Kirkby.

Initially, the brothers wanted to keep it just for private purposes, but later, suggestions were made that they should not keep it away from the public and turn it into a showpiece for all. So that’s how the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center was set up and the Lancaster NX611 “Just Jane” and the Control Tower became the centerpieces.

The Museum then opened its doors in 1988 and has since hosted numerous visits from so many famous folks from both the aviation world and the international show-biz scene. The British and international aviation world is extremely proud of what the Panton Brothers accomplished at the Heritage Center, actually one of the biggest British independent museums that survive without any funding or subsidies.

The Museum aims to preserve its interesting artifacts, expand its collection, and continue to educate future generations about the sacrifices of British servicemen and women and the crucial role of Bomber Command. This website highlights more museums dedicated to honoring WW II servicemen and women. Check out also this review of the North Weald Airfield Museum. 

The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center has been around now for more than 30 years and it is widely regarded as a living tribute and memorial to the more than 55,500 men of Bomber Command that gave their lives in WW II. The collection includes an extremely rare aircraft of those days (the Avro Lancaster Bomber “Just Jane”) together with many rare vehicles that were used in those days of war such as a beautiful WOT1 Ford Crew Bus. This is the only one of this vehicle type that’s in existence, as far as we know. Just watch this video of the “Just Jane” Lancaster starting the four Merlin engines and taxying around the airfield:

As the Panton brothers say, “We have the feeling that Bomber Command in Britain never really was given the recognition and respect it deserves. That’s why we feel it’s our job and duty to educate the British population, young and old, about the heroic acts and dedication demonstrated by Bomber Command all through World War Two.” The aircrews, all volunteers, had an average age of 22 and eventually, not even one in four of these volunteers was able to complete their first 30-operations tour. We will never be able to repay this debt that should never be forgotten. For an overview of Listed Historic UK Airfields, check out this post. 

The Museum is housed on the old RAF airfield of East Kirkby and includes the original RAF Control Tower and the Museum’s Hangar is located exactly on the site of the original wartime hangar. The Museum is themed completely around Bomber Command, however, the displays and exhibits are spanning many areas like “Escape and Evasion” and “The Home Front” which gives visitors a wide and interesting perspective on Britain, the trials, and tribulations in the days of the Second World War. See also this post about the History of RAF North Weald Airfield.

The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center is expanding year after year and expresses the ambition to fully rebuild the site into an original and full wartime airfield that will preserve the memory of British servicemen/women and Bomber Command for years to come and educate the public about the heroic actions that were performed to defend Western Europe’s freedom. The Museum is reinvesting all operating profits into the fantastic site and the Lancaster while employing twenty staff members.

The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center is the only British Airfield Museum recreated on an original airfield operational in WW II. Visitors get a true idea and the best atmosphere of what life it would be like in those days and why that matters, not only to the people who run the Museum but also to all interested visitors.

The Museum boasts an original and one-of-a-kind Avro Lancaster NX611 Bomber (“Just Jane”), an aircraft that frequently makes 4-engine taxi runs (see videos) and this site is the only location in the world where you can witness this happening on an original WW II airfield. This is unique to the Museum and actually the only place where this can be done in Europe. You may even take a ride in the Museum’s Lancaster! For information about RAF Polebrook Airfield and the 35qst U.S. Bomb Squadron that flew so many sorties over enemy occupied territory 1n the years 1943-45, read this page about the airfield.

The Museum holds several events and if you visit the interesting Heritage Center on a flying day, you’ll be able to see grass runway in operation. The Museum is open all year round with the exception of a period over Christmas and New Year and it is closed on Sundays.