Sky high surprise for former airman Ron

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The skies over Mansfield were filled with the distinctive buzz of Merlin engines as two Second World War bombers flew over town.

Shoppers stopped and gazed at the clouds as the Lancasters flew low over the town centre, banked and then came around for a second pass.

Fans watching the Stags play Carlisle were momentarily distracted from the action by the iconic planes - which were so low they could have been on a bombing run over Berry Hill two weekends ago.

And despite the joy and excitement that the Lancasters caused for many a resident, they were actually overhead as a belated 93rd birthday present for a Mansfield pensioner.

Bomber Command veteran Ron Brown told Chad that he was sat at home when the phone rang - and when he answered, it was a representative of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on the line.

The flight was heading to a display at the Ladybower Reservoir - training ground for the legendary Dambusters.

And because the former warrant officer’s Berry Hill Park home was just a short deviation from their flight plan from RAF Coningsby, they would be heading to Mansfield to wish him ‘many happy returns’.

Ron, who survived a total of 64 daring missions behind enemy lines during the war, said: “They called me quite early in the morning and said they were going to make a slight deviation - they told me it was a belated birthday present and it really was very kind of them.

“It was a tremendous gesture from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a great honour and I really appreciated it.

“I think the last time a Lancaster flew that low over Mansfield was in 1944 and I was in it at the time.”

The fly-past had been planned earlier this year but had to be called off at the last minute when one of the planes developed engine problems.

So instead Ron was treated to a solo Spitfire display, he said.

Ron flew Lancaster bombing missions over Holland, France and Germany during the Second World War.

The former engine fitter and flight engineer was a founding member of The East Midlands Ex Aircrew Association, which held its final meeting in 2012, and formally shut up shop after more than 50 years at a celebratory garden party in June.

The association used to meet every month at Mansfield Woodhouse’s Blue Boar pub and Sherwood Forest Golf Club and were regular Lancaster Bomber exhibitors at air shows.