Crowds gather to watch pensioner’s flypast dream come true

Huge crowds have gathered to watch a pensioner see his lifelong dream fulfilled when a special flypast marks the 75th anniversary of a crash which claimed the lives of 10 American airmen.

Tony Foulds was just eight years old when he saw a B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Mi Amigo, crash on February 22 1944 as it apparently veered away from him and his friends in Sheffield’s Endcliffe Park as it returned from a bombing raid.

Mi Amigo crash 75th anniversary
Tony Foulds has been tending the memorial for decades (Danny Lawson/PA)

Since then, Mr Foulds, now 82, has dedicated himself to looking after the park’s memorial to the men, tending it six days a week for decades.

On Friday, thousands of people were expected to gather at the park to watch planes including F-15E Strike Eagles from the USAF and an RAF Typhoon pay tribute to the crew.

The ceremony was arranged by BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker after he saw Mr Foulds walk in the park and started a campaign to have the men remembered.

Hundreds of people were in the park as dawn broke on Friday, with many bringing picnics and some wearing Second World War uniforms.

Many veterans could be seen on the park wearing medals, and coffee stalls and sandwich vans were enjoying a brisk trade on the cold but clear morning.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Foulds told the crowds: “Thank you very much for coming, it’s lovely see you.

“I can’t wait to get among you.”

Thousands now in Endcliffe Park, #Sheffield waiting for the flypast salute to the crew of the #MiAmigo.

— Dave Higgens (@DaveHiggensPA) February 22, 2019

The programme also showed footage of Mr Foulds meeting the families of some of the airmen who lost their lives in the crash 75 years ago.

He said: “I never thought I would ever meet any of the families of this pilot and crew.”

The pensioner described them as “lovely, lovely people”.

The flypast is expected to begin at around 8.45am.