What a shame
This has to be the best aircraft to watch at an airshow, if you have never witnessed this beauty in the air don't miss this last opportunity to see it fly.
The Vulcan To The Sky Trust has announced "with considerable sadness" that this summer will be the public's last chance to catch Avro Vulcan XH558 thundering through British skies, as the legendary V-bomber will be permanently grounded at the end of this flying season. The trust explains that the axe will fall because "three …
in 1970 I climbed a mountain in South Wales. I got the greatest reward ever. As I stood on the peak two Vulcans in white livery flew up the valley and passed below me - presumably on low level training exercises. If you think the Vulcan looks good from underneath - you ain't seen it from above. So if there is a God, it will be a sad day for him/her too despite its intended payload.
Oh, and the memory of Concorde flying over my back garden on Heathrow approach each evening was always a pleasant pause in whatever one was doing to look up and showing that loud aircraft noise can sometimes be welcome. Aviation is just so boring these days.
I watched the one that is now at Filton make it's final approach and landing when I was working for Rolls across the road. Half the workforce must have been out watching it for the final time that day.
Towards the railway line at the back were some of the Olympus 593 system test buildings which were pretty run down, but they still had those old signs with the name of each facility on.
All gone now, the whole site on that side of the road, including 1 to 4 shop, which built engines during the war and had fields and cows painted on the roof as camouflage, has been bulldozed.
I think the two 593 engine test beds on the other side of Gipsy Patch Lane are still there.
I agree with you VinceH, I had just enough money to consider going to the UK or USA and buying a Concorde flight at the time it was being shut down (sure was not cheap).
Work conditions, forgot the idea, suddenly the last flight was in the news. Probably the closest I (or you, perhaps) could have been to space.
I do think about the ballistic flights on fighter jets in Russia at times, it's little more than twice the price of a Concorde ticket.
Not the same as a flight from one place to another, but certainly better value than Branson's brain-fart (more than an order of magnitude above the price of a Concorde ticket, and still lands at the same place it took off, if it ever does).
I was trying to work out last night if my (very young) childhood memory of seeing one flying and on the runway in Singapore (yes, living in Seletar) was cooked up from later reading Look and Learn and being taken to see Thunderball by my father, or real.
So didn't mention it.
Not RAF, Singaporean school at the time. but seems it was not imaginary.
My memories are from Finningley. I grew up about twelve miles as the Vulcan flies from the base. One of my earliest memories is going the airshow and seeing/hearing a mock scramble of two (I think). There were English Electric Lightnings too - I wonder if that's why I have tinnitus :-)
I was at X558s first display at Waddington a few years ago - wonderful, just wonderful. As the Olympi spooled up, I briefly saw a lot of grown men tear up - briefly, because I did too. Unfortunately, I've just looked at the show schedule for the summer, and I don't know that I'm going to be able to get to any of them - all a bit far South. But I'm going to try, dammit!
It'd had been displaying with one of the two Lancasters that were flying that weekend. I was also at Shambala last year, and almost persuaded my friends to drive an extra hour to watch both Lancs and the Vulcan take off together. Sadly they weren't up for it, but seeing her on the sunday was a nice surprise.
Shambala is pretty close to the Battle of Britain memorial flight's airfield, and there's nothing better than sitting in a field with a beer and ting while Lancs, Spits and Hurri's fly over :)
The first time I saw one was way back in '62. A pair of them overflew my school whilst we were all out on the playing fields. They seemed to be so low that I felt that I could reach out and touch them. The next time was on a visit to RAF Waddington (or was it Scampton?) in 1966. We were lucky enough to witness a QRA Scramble - three of them on the runway together and 12 Olympus engines at 100% thrust, the sound was awe-inspiring. On that day, I swore that I would fly one too - and I did. I entered Cranwell in 1969, and was eventually commissioned in Bomber Command.
Oh happy days.
Minor nitpick, but the Vulcan didn't have afterburners (reheat). It used either Olympus 201 (the ones in XH558, & the ones that can make the howl), and the more powerful 301 (which seemed never to howl), and were used in the Falklands missions. The two types were not interchangeable.
It's mostly lack of available engine hours that's going to ground 558, however like the other two live vulcans (and the two live Victors), she'll still be able to do fast taxi ground runs.
We don't use the Americanism "Afterburner", we use the proper term "Reheat".
Oh yes you do! When I lived in the UK I had quite a few afterburner curries (at least in Leicester) no one ever called them a reheat. That was what you did with the remains in microwave next day.
I always used to smile when the Vulcan passed overhead at the airshows, leaving a series of blaring car alarms on the first couple of rows of parking. There would be people scrambling all over the place looking for car keys...
Also, XH558, thanks for keeping me dry while I ate my sandwiches under your starboard wing. Hat well and truly tipped.
Why on earth are they grounding it? I appreciate that relying on elderly technicians isn't an option, but have they never heard of 'apprentices'? Perhaps get the elderly experts to train their successors? If they can keep the Lanc, Hurricane and Spitfire flying, which ar a lot older, why not train new technicians to keep the Vulcan flying?
The Vulcan is one of the most impressive aircraft ever built, in Britain or anywhere. Is it really 'The Spirit of Britain' to ground it without trying to train a new generation of people to maintain it?
(Actually, I rather fear that it IS the 'Spririt of Modern Britain' Pooh!)
> If they can keep the Lanc, Hurricane and Spitfire flying, which ar a lot older, why not train new technicians to keep the Vulcan flying?
Lanc, Hurricane and Spitfire are much, much simpler aircraft than the Vulcan, and quite similar in construction and use to the many thousands of light aircraft dotted all over the world. And training a whole crew of people to maintain a single aircraft of this complexity, used only for displays, would be totally impractical and cost prohibitive.
Both issues ignore the second problem - they don't know where to look for problems. Where I work, we have a full aircraft rig simulating flight on a full airframe of a Tucano. That Tucano is kept ahead of the fleet in "flight hours," so that cracks, fatigue damage, etc can be found on it rather than a real, flying aircraft. If you have an aircraft as complex as the Vulcan, where the only remaining flying example is as far ahead of the fleet as this, you are likely to face very serious issues sooner rather than later.
As gutted as I am to see it going (and being in NI, as unlikely as I am to see it again), I completely understand the reasons behind why it is being retired.
It's not just the people. The rules around 'complex'-class aircraft are akin to modern airliners: there must be a full paper audit trail of every nut, bolt & widget, bonded-warehouses etc. There are no more zero-hour Olympyses, and RR no longer have the tooling or the processes to make them. As a commercial organisation, you can imagine the publicity if anything did happen to these 30+ year-old engines. Then there's the other critical systems and airframe fatigue - same applies.
People cite the marine Olympus, but it's a different beast: similar design, but non-aerospace components (weight doesn't matter in a ship, and aircraft generally don't eat salty air). 558's restoration only flew (ahem) because there were 8 zero-timed, bagged & audited Olympus 201s available from the old stock. Similar story with Concorde: without the approval of the Design Authority organisations, there would be no hope whatsoever of return to flight.
Yes, it was always going to be difficult with a small stock of engines, particularly since 2 of them were effectively written off when some non-standard moisture absorbing packs in the inlet ducts got left in before a departure and were ingested.
It's for the best that 558 is retired now, if you read the accident report on the Lightning T5 that crashed in South Africa then you will see the effect of insufficient experienced ground engineering staff leading to in flight failure and the death of the pilot.
Yep Rolls Wood in Scotland can fully service or rebuild your heavy marine Olympus only :(
Those zero-timed, bagged & audited Olympus 201s were from the last time RR serviced them in 1982, following the retirement of the Vulcan fleet all the tooling and equipment for servicing them went for scrap :( I understand that even car manufacturers only have to have parts available for 10 years.
along with another epoch-defining machine: the English Electric Lightning - the plane the Yanks refused to believe existed.
There's a Vulcan, Lightning, and TSR2 (now *there* was a plane) all on display at RAF Cosford, if anyone is ever in the Midlands. If you want a cultured day out, you could go there, and return via the Roman town of Wroxeter.
You've missed the Concorde there - as impressive as any on your list, but civilian to boot!
If you wish to see one of them (as well as a Vulcan, an Electric Lightning, a Nimrod, various WW2 fighters, etc) then head up to East Fortune - an absolute gem of a museum just under an hour's drive from Edinburgh.
You've missed the Concorde there - as impressive as any on your list, but civilian to boot!
Well reminded sir !
Last time I was there, an American visitor was describing some of the planes (and theatres of war) to his grandchildren, as with most USAians, he was blown away by the fact the whole museum was free.
Hence this shameless re-plug. Use it, or lose it.
I took my American uncle to Cosford once, years ago. Johnny was a WW2 veteran and was always happy to reminisce. We were looking at one of the flying bombs, when Johnny turned to an elderly gentleman standing next to him and said, "God, I remember how afraid I used to be whenever I heard one of these cut out in the sky above me!" The man replied, "Ja?"
I used to drool over the Lightning as a kid every time I went to Hendon. A fantastic aircraft, it isn't pretty, just brutish and functional.
The Sunderland was another great aircraft. My father flew the one that was in Hendon, ISTR that it went to India after Coastal Command were finished with it and my father was part of the crew that delivered it*.
They are all *fabulous* pieces of engineering, including the Concorde and TSR2, but I do get a reality check when I take my kids round Duxford and when walking under the Vulcan there, one of them asks...
"Daddy, what's that big space for?"
"That's where the nuclear bomb goes."
If (a big if) I remember correctly, with operation Black Buck, the logisitics of setting a rolling relay of in-flight refueling points, where the tankers had to be refuled in mid flight, to refuel the Vulcan's (I think there where two on the mission??) was mind blowing.
"a rolling relay of in-flight refueling points, where the tankers had to be refuled in mid flight, to refuel the Vulcan's (I think there where two on the mission??)"
There was an excellent documentary on the mission in general. There also seems to have been a TV movie?
Try this one:
Indeed, it was a major operation, a marvel of planning and logistics, and something I doubt we'd see today - "too hazardous" since there were many problems that could happen, leaving one or more aircraft unable to refuel or reach land.
But, as you point out, while the damage was minimal - it showed that we could and would attack them even though they thought it was too far away to be practical. I guess it's like playing cards - you don't have to hold all the aces if you can make your opponent think you hold them.
Once saw one go vertical, then back off on the power, falling (slowly) vertically down towards the ground, and only putting on full power 100ft (or so it seemed) from the ground, to start ascending again.
I've seen space rockets take off, but they were not a patch on that Vulcan for spectacle, and the shaking effect was not dissimilar.
Someone got in a lot of trouble for the Vulcan stunt, so I'm keeping my anonymous head down.
Looking at the current schedule I'd try to make it a weekandahalf trip around the middle/end of August (15th at Eastbourne, 23rd at Shoreham or Bournemouth.) That way I get multiple chances of seeing it fly (and visit some of the many museums around those parts) Only problem now is that I don't really have the budget to blow on a trip "just to see an airplane" having just bought a house and all that... dangnamit I hate having to set priorities.
Amen... These birds are on my bucket list to see along with one more trip to Dayton for the USAF museum. History you reach out and touch and for some of those planes, smell.
I also want to see Portsmouth (the Victory), Chatham and as much of the NMM as I can handle.
The NMM does contain a huge amount of material, however little of it is on public display. Their publicly accessible displays are frankly bordering on a national disgrace. Might I suggest striking the NMM from your list and visiting the Shuttleworth collection instead? If your primarily interested in the historic RN then you might wish to visit HMS Trincomalee and HMS Unicorn instead.
I was part of the crowd at RAF Waddington who witnessed the last 2 flying Avro Lancasters meet the last flying Avro Vulcan. I feel more than just a little sad to know this will never. ever, happen again, but very happy to know that I was there to see, hear, smell and feel these incredible aircraft passing by.
I remember seeing a display by the Red Arrows with my partner (a Dead Sparrows afficionado).
As the display ended her comment was 'That's wierd, that's not how they usually end'.
Shortly afterwards they returned with the Vulcan in formation!
The noise accross the bay as she stood on her tail, went to full power and climbed near-vertically hit you in the chest with a sudden whoomph!!! and the alow motion aerobatics were a delight.
I'll definitely be making time to go to one of this years displays.
I live in a town with a major airshow and we have friends round to watch in our back garden. We'll see many amazing displays - A380 doing things it could never do with passengers on board, Red Arrows doing what they do, Eurofighter being fast and agile, but the one thing that people get wet over is Vulcan flying over my house at slow speed and that roar/howl. Simply awesome.
I'll be doing my best to get to one of the last flights.
Don't forget the Vulcan's most famous on-screen role as the nuclear bomber hijacked by SPECTRE and ditched in the Caribbean for James Bond to discover in the original Thunderball.
and no mention of the Harrier ?
Now *there* was a engineering marvel AND beauty.
And the mention of Concorde has to be a cue to comment that when there was some interchange between the Apollo and Concorde engineers, the Apollo engineers conceded the Concorde engineers had the real challenges. Including (but not limited to) how to slow supersonic air down to almost zero over the space of just over a metre. (Spolier alert - they did it).
Having spent some time at Bruntingthorpe, which was where this wonderful aircraft was housed, it is an amazing place, with some stunning aircraft, and some equally amazing people working there. So very sad to see that this majestic aircraft is no longer flight-worthy, there has been so much work, great fundraising and heart-wrenching keeping this thing flying. I have been lucky to see it in the flesh, and (forgetting about it's intended role) it is one of the most beautiful sights in the sky (or on the ground) those delta wings are just wonderful.
I do agree though that it is best remembered as a wonderful legacy than a burning wreck on the ground.
Best remembered that way than the way Concorde is remembered for it's fateful Paris flight, especially when you consider it's otherwise impeccable safety record.
It is so cramped in that tiny dark cockpit. And not exactly a place you want to be if you had to leave in the hurry. Fine if you were up front in the posh seats, but if not so good in the back. Pilot and co-pilot had ejector seats. Everyone else had to clamber out of an impossibly awkward back door.
Many stories around of how the rear crew would put the pins back into the ejector seats to remind the pilots not to leave the plane without them...
Now that this will really be the last ever flights it does mean that they are going to be able to make the most of the last hours of those engines. Last few times I saw her they talked of how they were taking it easy on the engines to extend as much life as possible.
Shoreham airshow will be my last chance to see her in the air. That's going to be emotional. The parents used to take us to airshows even as small kids. I've grown up with that howl and will miss it. Power you don't just hear but you feel in your soul.
Talking about the cramped cockpit, I read that the original spec for the Vulcan has a single pilot.
Can anyone comment further on who/what department changed the design to have two pilots?
From what I've read the two pilots are crammed in very close.
I don;t know if the word 'romantic' is appropriate, but it is the best one I can think of for thinking of a lone pilot up top heading off on a mission.
The Midlands Air Museum in Coventry is great. We lived a few miles from it a few years ago - I had a season ticket! Mrs IP and I got chance to go in the Vulcan. Mrs IP is from a country that would have been on the target list if the balloon went up - she says sitting in the bomb-aimer's seat, knowing that someone had sat in it who could have completely destroyed her city and country, was one of the most chilling of her life.
Valiant, Victor, and Vulcan, were made with evil intentions, but they sure were beautiful machines.
The Vulcan, most of all. An evil beauty.
It is interesting that they used the 'V' such a short time after Germany had. I feel certain that an influence was at play there.
I have a book by a commander from Britain's H-bomb-dropping test programme, it is interesting (on technical and squadron points). He closes with a rant against disarmament. That was from Valiants.
So now, the UK poses as a nuclear power, completely reliant on US-supplied and US-controlled SLBMs, not that I particularly care (although I'd prefer they gave up the pretense and made the world that little bit safer), it is just a joke.
Do any of those companies (Avro, Handley-Page, Vickers) still exist?
I understand their concerns. But as I'm helping crawl thru the bowels of a 158 foot long WWII vintage combat vessel that spent too much time in salt water, spending weekends trying to stop rust and dodge toxic lead and asbestos, I know the reasons why we gotta keep trying to keep these relics afloat (or flying) as a reminder of what history MEANS. It's one thing to read about an event, or watch a dramaticized, sanitized movie about them. But with the popular contempt of defeated enemies, until you FEEL what it was like when your combat power screams overhead, or the tight sharp edged conditions our sailors lived in 24/7 for months at a time, you have no real idea the fear and doubt that drives an enemy into retreat, or defines the actual sacrifices made by all the "normal" people of the Greatest Generation.
As an aviation fan, let me add a despairing "NOOOOOOOOOooooooo *inhale* OOOOOOOOOO!" I'm not rich enough to get to Britain in time!
Most aircraft look to me like they are defying gravity but delta wing air craft like the Vulcan and Concorde actually look like they should be able to fly! I expect it's because they look closer to a paper plane.
I should get a chance to see the Vulcan at Shoreham in almost its last flight. I'll miss it, but not as much as I miss Concorde. I took the day off and went to Heathrow to see the last three Concordes come home for the last time. Fond memories.
Unfortunately as a civilian aircraft I doubt if it is allowed to take part in the trooping the colour flypast. And it would have to rehearse the formation flying; hours that would be better spent on displaying. Also i suspect the insurance premiums would go up a bit; a large chunk of the £20,000 per hour's flying time required to keep it in the air already goes on insurance and it doesn't normally go anywhere near heavily populated areas.
Absolutely correct. Was in Scarborough today with wife and little lady (well, she is little and she was 1 a couple of days ago so she wanted pirate ships, chips and ice cream on the beach etc) and we were treated initially to the sight of the bloody thing doing a high level circuit over Scarborough. Next thing we know, the silence as everyone stops, looks up, and the pilot has decided its a lot more fun to do a LOW LEVEL RUN right across the bay! A nice bank across the bay, pull up for a bit of altitude and off he goes.
+1 to the pilot, he made a LOT of peoples day today :)
Icon because, well, "eat this" is probably what he was thinking when he roared across the sunny skies today :)
I was lucky. I mean extremely lucky. When I was a kid (1990 ish) I wanted to do to the HMS Deadlus air day, where the vulcan amongst other aircraft where being shown off. But it not happen that year. So instead, as the morning's air display was underway, I noticed that a few of the aircraft were using my schools sports field as a waypoint for turning the 180, to go do another run past the airshow. So I headed over.
The one stand out memory, was when the Vulcan came along the other side of the field, it pitched up as it slowed to make the turn, then banked and that huge delta wing was almost side on to me, as the aircraft performs a turn around the edge of the field. To this day, I'm sure that the pilot saw me staring up, following the plane as it made the turn, as I'm sure the turn got a little tighter, and the Vulcan appeared to slow right down as it dropped, about 100ft from the ground, pitched up. I will never forget the Howl, and roar of the engines as the Vulan flew right over my head, and the warm blast of the jets blew against my skin as the engines powered up and roar'd away back towards the air display.
What an aircraft and a memory that I will never forget from that majestic piece of engineering.
I'll add my 0.02 for what its worth. Last year XH558 was doing a pre-season engineering check flight and came by the site I was working at near York. Traffic on the A64 and A19 ground to a halt as people filled the laybys to watch her fly circuits. She literally stopped traffic!
My childhood Vulcan memory (late 80s/very early 90s? Must have been on the verge of leaving service) is from RAF Church Fenton, which had a decent air show in those days. It's the only thing I remember from the day but I remember it vividly, Olympus-induced earthquake and car alarms going off and all. Absolutely awe inspiring. I gladly chucked a few quid in to the VTTS campaign so my name ought to be amongst those on 558's bomb bay door somewhere. Hopefully I can take my three-year-old to see her fly before she's grounded for good, and pay those memories forward a little.
Is that our government believes that 'Britain is an incompetent crock of shit' and the only thing they can do is buy from those 'wonderful, intelligent and far sighted Americans'. One day those Americans will produce a plane as good as the Harrier, TSR-2 or Vulcan but they haven't yet. If the British managed to reassemble an aircraft industry and prove once again that we can produce world beating aircraft you can bet your last bottom dollar that the UK government would still go begging the Americans to let us have some of theirs... even when they are ALWAYS delivered late, over budget and under specd
These arsehole manufactures whos life long purpose is to milk the MOD for all its worth should be rounded up and shot for letting this happen.
This plane is quite possibly the last flying example of OUR aviation history, This old girl should be flying along side spitfires and Lancaster's and should be given every opportunity to keep flying with them or we will lose a valuable period of our counties former ability.
the CAA deem her a technical aircraft meaning a lot more restriction is placed on it but come on, the MOD could roll her back in to "service" bypassing all that crap and the public would even continue to pay for it and we all get to enjoy an aircraft who frequently whipped the Americans arse, being thrown around the sky like a fighter jet setting off car alarms and making everyones hair stand up on end as it howls in to a near vertical take off, everyone wins.
If someone in power really wanted to save this fantastic aircraft from a rusty future they could, i dont care what the manufactures say, if we grew a pair of balls and told them to sort it or forget other future projects they would likely fall over to help us.
anyhow, i live in hope our government comes to its senses an does something to keep her flying but i fear im just dreaming.
The saddest thing is that the current boffins in government and the spineless pile of US **** suckers don't seem to think that the UK can make planes any more... of course we can, we can make better, more amazing and stunning planes than anyone else, pity the politicians and civil servants have zero faith in us any more (same of course goes for everything... software, cars, lorries, trains... seems that whitehall is wedded immovably to the idea it is better to buy foreign and let the tax payer pay the unemployed=
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