Alfred Worden, NASA Astronaut and Empire Test Pilot, visited Lancaster ‘Just Jane’ at East Kirkby in Lincolnshire yesterday.
He was visiting the UK to talk at the Space Lectures in Pontefract, and before returning to the USA particularly requested to visit Bomber County to see Lancaster NX611. The team at the Aviation Heritage Centre opened their doors especially on a Sunday for Alfred, who is one of only 24 people to have ever visited the moon.
Alfred served as command module pilot during the Apollo 15 mission that took place July-August 1971. Apollo 15 was the fourth manned lunar landing mission and the first to visit and explore the moon’s Hadley Rille and Montes Apenninus which are located on the southeast edge of the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains).
Alfred, now a sprightly aged 81, climbed on board the Lancaster and joined Andrew Panton in the co-pilots position as they taxied this original Second World War bomber on the original wartime airfield of RAF East Kirkby. The brothers Fred and Harold Panton set up the museum in the late 1980s after purchasing the Lancaster bomber and transferring it from RAF Scampton where it was the gate guardian. The museum commemorates all those from East Kirkby who lost their lives during the War, and most importantly Fred and Harold’s eldest brother Christopher Panton who was killed during the Nuremberg Raid 70 years ago next year. As well as the Lancaster, East Kirkby is home to several excellent museums, wartime vehicles, an authentic control tower and a chapel of rest which names all the aircrew who died flying from RAF East Kirkby.
Primetime Media have enjoyed filming with the Panton family since the early 1990s, documenting Lancaster NX611’s return to taxy condition, and are now poised to continue recording the restoration to flight of this magnificent aircraft which the team at East Kirkby hope to achieve sometime in the next few years. It was Al’s particular wish to be kept up to date with progress and he’s requested to return to East Kirkby when they do fly her. Footage from the shoot was featured on tonight’s ITV Yorkshire news programme Calendar and you can view it again from their live news stream, link below.