The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum of Hamilton, Ontario is using eBay to auction the opportunity of a lifetime for an aviation or military history lover. The winner will help fly the last Canadian-built Avro Lancaster bomber (pictured above) to England.
The starting bid is $40,000 Canadian, (US $36,479.72) and the auction is open until 3:42PM EDT on May 10th. According to the auction page, the journey will take 4 days, while flying about 18 total hours. The auction doesn't specify what the role of the winning crew member will be, but who cares? You're part of history here! You'll form some friendships with the crew along the way, learn a lot, and have an incredible story to share. The winner has to get to Hamilton, and home from England on their own dime. A documentary film will also be recorded during the journey, so the winner has to sign a waiver in agreement to appear in the production. He or she must also weigh under 250 pounds and be able to climb a ladder and maneuver in tight places.
EDIT: The eBay ad is a little vague, suggesting it will never fly again after it gets to England. However, the museum has confirmed it's just going for a visit and will be back later this year. That's good news! We should keep these planes airworthy as long as possible.
If the sticker price is too rich for your blood, the Collings Foundation offers rides in vintage planes for a much more reasonable price, albeit a much shorter experience. The foundation's mission is "to organize and support "living history" events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation." The Collings collection includes 23 historic warbirds plus four more that are currently under restoration.
The Collings Foundation B-17, "Nine O Nine" by Jack Marion on Flickr [Creative Commons commercial license]
The foundation's "Wings Of Freedom Tour" is currently in its 25th year. On the tour stops, one can buy a ride in a B-17 Flying Fortress, a B-24 Liberator, or a P-51 Mustang. Bomber flights are $450 per person for a 30-minute sortie, while Mustang flights are $2,200 for a half hour to $3,200 for a full hour. It's not cheap, but neither is the cost of maintaining 70 year-old warbirds. You can also opt for a walk-through tour of one of the bombers for only $12. Donations are tax deductible. Visit here for more information on where to see these incredible planes.