Vulcan to woo crowds over Hastings
The last Avro Vulcan V bomber in flightworthy condition, XH558, is due to strut its stuff in the air above the seafront this Saturday, 15 June, at about 3.30pm. It may be the last year that this display can be seen unless enough donors can be found to keep it in the air for another two years as planned, writes HOT’s Chris Cormack.
The term V bomber was used by the RAF during the 1950s and 1960s to describe its fleet of United Kingdom’s strategic strike force bombers. The bombers’ names all started with the letter V: the Vickers Valiant , Avro Vulcan and Handley Page Victor.
Having been sold by the RAF in 1997, this Avro Vulcan is now operated under the aegis of a charitable trust which, as well as keeping her flying, is trying to promote her as an icon of British engineering excellence and as a reminder of the nuclear deterrence defence of the UK in the Cold War of the 1950s and 1960s. There are quite a lot of aircraft older than her still flying but few of her complexity and sophistication – many jets of her era only get permission to taxi down the runway and are not allowed to take off. The visceral thrill of seeing her give a display is quite something.
In the autumn of 2012, it was announced that, due to a range of complex technical issues, it was possible that 2013 would be XH558’s last display season. Following a period of rigorous research taxing the skills of XH558’s engineering team and its technical partners, an engineering programme was planned that will allow XH558 to fly for full display seasons in both 2014 and 2015. By launching this campaign, the trust that operates XH558 is announcing both its intent to secure two more additional display seasons after 2013, and the culmination of XH558’s airborne career at the end of 2015. XH558’s longer-term future is as the centre-piece of an educational and inspirational facility, ensuring that her restoration to flight and second flying career will result in a lasting legacy.
The trust plans to issue further shares to support vital elements of its operating costs, namely the manufacture of wing-strengthening plates, and will step up its merchandising and fund-raising activities through the season. New shareholders will all receive a dedicated certificate, with all support of £75 or more recognised on the last-ever bomb-bay plaque to be fitted within XH558’s famous bomb-bay. This will be fitted in the autumn of 2013.
An Inspirational video of the aircraft is available on Youtube.
The aircraft is available for inspection on the ground at RAF Manston on 22 June.
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