Great excitement in Mackenzie, British Columbia, Canada which is nearly 600 miles from Vancouver and an even longer distance from anywhere else. This small township lies on the southern end of Williston Lake, a huge man-made lake, the seventh largest reservoir in the world.
The lake is more than 150 miles in length – plenty of space in which an aircraft can practice flying low over water. And that is what one Canadian pilot working has been doing over the last few weeks.
That’s because a film crew has been in town. They have been working for the British company Windfall Films, which is making a new documentary about the Dams Raid. (A while back, the same company made an earlier film about the raid.) You might think that not a lot more can be said about this (a recent BBC documentary promising new information produced little) but it seems that no one has ever tried making a cylindrical bomb, rotating it backwards and dropping it from an aircraft flying at 240mph from a height of 60 feet. Until now.
There are now only two airworthy Lancasters left in the world. However, there are quite a few more of their 1940s contemporary, the Douglas DC3, which has proved so durable that they are still actively used by a number of small airlines. One of these is Buffalo Air, an outfit which flies out of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, a thousand miles north east of Mackenzie. This company’s staff are well used to the demands of filming as they star in a reality TV show, Ice Pilots. So Windfall chose them for the attempt to recreate the dambusting bomb, and had a dummy bomb and release mechanism built.
A number of test flights were undertaken, with the pilot reporting that he had no problem getting the plane down to 6o feet above the lake, although he wouldn’t have wanted to try it at night.
The bomb was spun up before take off, reaching a speed of about 2000 rpm. By the time the aircraft had taken off and reached the lake it was still spinning. Everything then went swimmingly – the bomb was dropped, it bounced three or four times, ran up to the parapet wall which it struck just above the waterline and then rolled down the wall. No word yet when Windfall expect to show the film. We will keep you informed!