Letchworth man flying high as leader of Dambusters

Michael Burden has won a once in a life time opportunity to command the legendary No 617 Squadron

Michael Burden has won a once in a life time opportunity to command the legendary No 617 Squadron - Credit: Archant

A MAN has won a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to command the legendary RAF Dambusters squadron for a day.

Michael Burden, of Bedford Road, Letchworth GC, learned he would take over No 617 Squadron, made famous for bombing three German dams on a daring mission during World War II, after winning a prize draw.

It came as a surprise to the 48-year-old because his wife, Andrea, entered the prize draw on his behalf.

Mr Burden, who runs a marketing company with his wife, is a keen aeroplane buff and often goes to air shows.

As part of his prize, Mr Burden will get to walk in the footsteps of the Dambusters heroes, brief flight crew and engineers, plan a sortie and fly a Tornado simulator.

He will also get a tour of the RAF Lossiemouth base in Scotland, visit the history room and have lunch in the mess as a special guest of the squadron.

Mr Burden said: “I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out and I am really looking forward to the day. I can’t wait to fly that Tornado.”

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The prize draw was part of No 617 Squadron’s commemoration events marking the 70th anniversary of its famous bombing raid during World War II.

Leonard Cheshire Disability, which has a home in Hitchin, is its official charity of the year and organised the competition. The charity’s founder commanded the 617 Squadron between 1943 and 1944.

Group Captain Leonard Cheshire was one of the squadron’s youngest commanding officers and the most decorated World War II bomber pilot after being awarded the Victoria Cross in 1944.

He founded Leonard Cheshire Disability in 1948. Today, it supports thousands of people with disabilities.

Hugo Middlemas, the charity’s director of fundraising, said: “Congratulations to Michael – we hope he enjoys this unique opportunity to lead the iconic No 617 Squadron for a day.”

To find out more about how you can support Leonard Cheshire Disability visit www.lcdisability.org/dambusters