A British Royal Air Force squadron leader — whose sentimental stuffed toy bunny flew out of a Second World War-era Lancaster bomber last Saturday — says the search is still on for his good luck charm.
The toy’s history is one built around 58-year-old pilot Jim Maginnis, who has taken “Bunny” on a number of adventures over the years, including exotic holidays and some tours of duty.
The 25-year-old heirloom of the Maginnis family has been to Spain, Paris, Rome, Berlin and even Afghanistan in 2009.
“My daughter Victoria, without telling me, had put her inside the bags just before I left,” said Maginnis.
“Bunny was sometimes stuffed inside my flying suit, was in my nav bag — she’s done a quite a lot.”
But Bunny’s owner is actually Jim’s 26-year-old daughter Victoria, who took the toy with her when she moved to Canada for work a couple years ago.
Jim reunited with Bunny last week on an overseas visit to see Victoria in Toronto.
The story of the lost toy begins with a visit to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton and Jim’s flight on a vintage Lancaster bomber.
Since Bunny had been a co-pilot on many a ride, Maginnis decided to take the stuffed toy up with him on his early afternoon ride.
Not long after takeoff, Jim opted to do what anyone would on a plane holding a stuffed toy. Take a picture.
And that’s where the story turns somewhat tragic.
Jim put Bunny down between two guns in the plane’s turret and snapped a picture. Shortly after that, the Lancaster banked and off went Bunny.
A Lancaster turret has two exposed openings for each gun’s barrel and Bunny was sucked out of one of them.
“It was one of those ‘oh heck’ moments, and that’s putting it mildly,” said Maginnis.
“I took the photograph, which is the photograph that appeared in the media. I looked on to the camera to check. Everything was OK. I heard a pop and I looked up and no Bunny.”
Based on flight data, it’s believed Bunny is in Burlington and a large area between Aldershot and QEW at Plains Road East.
In the hopes of sparking a movement to find Bunny, Victoria posted a picture of the toy on the Burlington Ontario Lost and Found Facebook page.
So far Jim, says they’ve gotten quite a few tips.
“I think … there has been 2,000 people who have read it and who have all passed it down,” he said.
“It seems it sort of struck a chord with people, I think, because of the age of Bunny.”
Jim said his daughter will search with friends at some point during the weekend.
The hope now is that someone will find the toy bunny, despite the large search area and the snow.
Anyone who finds Bunny can reach out to the family by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.