Oldest Surviving Lancaster Pilot went for one last Flight

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Former Lancaster pilot Jack Finan stands at the controls of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Lancaster as he talks to pilot Dave Rohrer. Finan took a ride in the Lanc on Saturday. It had been 50 years since he had stepped in one. (Credits: The Hamilton Spectator)

Former Lancaster pilot Jack Finan stands at the controls of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Lancaster as he talks to pilot Dave Rohrer. Finan took a ride in the Lanc on Saturday. It had been 50 years since he had stepped in one. (Credits: The Hamilton Spectator)

Former Lancaster pilot Jack Finan of Stoney Creek, who is now 95 years old, stands at the controls of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Mynarski Memorial Lancaster as he talks to pilot Dave Rohrer before his flight in the bomber on Saturday. Jack Finan was allowed some minutes at the controls while in flight, and he did excellent.

“I only think about the good times now,” Finan said, “That’s easier than remembering all of the people who didn’t come back.”

Jack Finan was born and raised in Hamilton. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at the outbreak of war in 1939. He was first trained as an airframe mechanic and then later as a pilot and officer. He survived the war after numerous bomb runs on Germany, unlike many of his former colleagues.

During World War II the Avro Lancasters flew 156,000 sorties and dropped 608,612 long tons (618,378 tonnes) of bombs between 1942 and 1945. Just 35 Lancasters completed more than 100 successful operations each, and 3,249 were lost in action.

Of the 17 surviving and largely intact Lancasters known to exist, two are airworthy; “Thumper”, based in Coningsby, the UK, is operated by The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the other, called “Vera”, is in Canada, operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

Jack Finan moves to his seat inside the bomber’s tight confines. (Credits: The Hamilton Spectator)

Jack Finan moves to his seat inside the bomber’s tight confines. (Credits: The Hamilton Spectator)

People watch the Lancaster’s engines fire as it carries Jack Finan for his ride. (Credits: The Hamilton Spectator)

People watch the Lancaster’s engines fire as it carries Jack Finan for his ride. (Credits: The Hamilton Spectator)

Finan’s family think he may be the oldest living Lancaster veteran, or possibly the last such veteran. They admit, however, they have no proof for either claim.




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Argunners Magazine is an independent online historian and collector's magazine, dedicated to the militaria and history of both Axis and Allied powers during the World War 1 & 2. Argunners is a central resource offering the latest militaria and war history news, journals, articles and press releases related to these themes.

4 Comments

  1. Robert F. Reynolds on

    I will be 96 next June. My last flight as Captain of a Lancaster with 101 Squadron, at Binbrook, Lincs on November 28. 1945. I was then transferred to Transport Command flying Dakotas. It would be interesting to know how many WWII Lancaster pilots are still alive. God Bless. Flt. Lt. Robert F. Reynolds.

    • My father flew Lancasters with 9 Squadron out of Bardney and ended up flying Mosquitoes towards the end of the war. Sadly, he passed away in 1976. His kid brother was killed on one the Berlin raids in early 1944 flying as a navigator with a 49 Squadron crew. I wish you long life and hope you get a telegram from the Queen when you hit the magic ton.

      • Hi Robert- your father and his brother are heroes. They pave the way for freedom for generations to come…If you like to write an article to tell us about your father and his brother, argunners.com will be more than happy to publish it.

  2. Very nice article.
    But if you got no proof that he’s the only one surviving, then the title shouldn’t say so.

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