The prevailing winds at the airfield were south-westerly. It was therefore seldom that the Lancasters of 97 squadron would take off using the shortest runway of all, NW.-SE., which meant that just after becoming airborne they would pass over Highfields and Hardwick, close to St Mary's Church. When they did so, it was an awesome experience for the village folk. A local man, Bob Plane, recalled the Lancasters straining and labouring to gain height as they came directly over Hardwick:
"They used to come over the tops of the houses, laden with bombs, and one would think 'Please God, let them get over'. You would be sitting there with a cup of tea, and when they had gone over the saucer was full of tea and the cup was only half full because of the vibrations."
The bombers would all conglomerate overhead, gathering together before they headed off for Germany, "it was a hell of a noise". Together with the roar of Bourn's aircraft taking off, there would be the distant growl of others taking off from neighbouring airfields, and then the huge pack would set out into the gathering darkness, the roar of their great engines gradually receding.