New Zealand PM John Key said on his Twitter account this morning: “Really sad to hear of Les Munro’s death, New Zealand has lost a remarkable man who led a remarkable life”.
Mr Mayhill, President of the New Zealand Bomber Command Association, said he was a “fine man” and will be much missed.
“I met him from time-to-time at reunions and always respected him – not just because he was famous, but because he was a very nice fellow”, Mr Mayhill told NZ Newswire.
“In his life Les Munro was a pilot, a farmer and a Mayor”.
To give a sense of their skill, today, RAF pilots fly at least 250ft above ground.
The veteran pilot returned to Britain in 2008 to attend a flypast over the Peak District by a Lancaster bomber, similar to the one used by the RAF’s 617 Squadron, to mark the squadron’s 65th anniversary.
‘It does surprise me that people of subsequent generations take part in things like this, but it’s up to the individual how they react.’.
Sqn Ldr Munro, a grandfather, had a “special aura”, reported by close friend Peter Wheeler.
Munro had been a patron of the New Zealand Bomber Command Association.
“We look on the Lincolnshire squadron and it has been a valiant band of brothers”.
The operation was carried out on 16 to 17 May, 1943, by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron.
In a statement on the association’s Facebook page, Dave Homewood wrote: “I have extremely sad news”.
The bombs breached two dams in the Ruhr region, although Munro’s Lancaster plane suffered flak damage before reaching the targets and had to turn back.
“This memorial commemorates the 125,000 aircrew from all Commonwealth nations who served in WW2, including the 55,573 who paid the ultimate sacrifice; 1,679 of them New Zealanders”.
The bouncing bombs had been specially designed for the raid, officially known as Operation Chastise, by engineer Sir Barnes Wallis.