back to article Last flying Avro Vulcan, XH558, prepares for her swan song

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 …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a shame

      ... and hear it fly, those engines roar out a sweet tune.

      1. stucs201

        Re: What a shame

        Not just a roar, although that is very impressive. The really distinctive thing is the howl.

        1. Small Furry Animal

          Re: What a shame

          "Not just a roar, although that is very impressive. The really distinctive thing is the howl."

          ... which only started when the Olympusses (Olympoi?) were at or above 92%. A beautiful sound.

          1. Stuart 22

            Re: What a shame

            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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What a shame

              My school lay under the flight path Concordes being built at Filton used to take on their test flights.

              Sadly another sight/sound which will never be seen again :((

              1. VinceH

                Re: What a shame


                When I was very young, my mother and I lived with my grandparents in Brentry - close enough to Filton to get a good view of it on test flights.

                I wish I'd taken a trip on it before it was grounded.

                1. big_D Silver badge

                  Re: What a shame

                  A friend of mine was a stewardess on the London - New York run of the Concorde. I saw it a few times, even went on board, but I never got to fly in it.

                2. iranu

                  Re: What a shame

                  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.

                3. Bleu

                  Re: What a shame

                  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).

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: What a shame

          Seconded. It's the howl of banshees! Angry banshees. Banshees that are about to bring a lot of hurt down on you. It's bloody fabulous!

      2. thesykes

        Re: What a shame

        Hear it? You can feel it! I remember watching one fly low over the car park at RAF Finningley and hearing a chorus of alarms go off as the ground shook.

        Definitely something you have to experience in person.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a shame

      Spent many a holiday in Cornwall near enough to RAF St Mawgan to have the house shake when the Vulcans flew over.

      It will be a great shame when the last one is retired.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        Re: What a shame

        As a kid I spotted these thundering over in Cornwall. I also spotted one while fossil hunting in Yorkshire. One of the most iconic British planes ever. Sad moment to see it grounded.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a shame

        I remember going to a RNAS Culdrose (Cornwall) air day back in the late 70's bleedy loud as was the Starfighter

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: What a shame

      I saw it when I was still living in Fareham, the did a fly-past at the Lee on Solent Air Show.

      My father was a technician on the Vs during his sting in the RAF in the late 50s, early 60s.

    4. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: What a shame

      Chiming in from the US here - I was working a summer job at DEC's Westfield, MA plant. Got to the parking lot early enough to have two F4 Phantoms take off from the adjacent Air Reserve Base, right over my head. In formation, on afterburners.

      It was a good day.

    5. ntevanza

      Re: What a shame

      Go and stand under the one in the RAF museum. Your mind will seep full of the idea of Death. It remains easily the most ominous object I have ever seen.

    6. Efros

      Re: What a shame

      As a kid in Singapore I was at RAF Seletar primary school, and I remember the day that a Vulcan flew low over the school, low enough to read the notices on the underside of the plane. Bloody deafening and awe inspiring.

      1. Bleu

        Re: What a shame


        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.


        1. Efros

          Re: What a shame


          I believe they were based at Tengah in the early 60s, in my 6 months in Seletar I only saw one the one time and that seems to correspond with the Bersatu Padu Exercise.

    7. Champ

      Re: What a shame

      I was a boy growing up in the 70s in Gloucester. In those days the tiny airfield 2 miles up the road, Staverton, had a real airshow, which included the Vulcan. I watched the show from my back garden, and the majesty and noise of the Vulcan will live with me forever.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: What a shame

        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!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: English Electric

          English Electric. The company that brought you not just the Lightning, but the Deltic as well???? Wtf?

          Where's the modern equivalent in the UK?

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: English Electric

            You ask who the modern English Electric is? I give you Bombardier. Gives you the Pendolino as well as the Global Challenger, the Learjet and the Q400. :-)

  2. nsld
    Thumb Up

    had the joy

    Of this flying over the house when it was heading over to Duxford last summer.

    Rather than just turning casually he cranked it round and gave it some serious throttle and the house shook.

    Simply awesome and a real shame it's the last year of flight.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: had the joy

      There is no other sight like that great delta shape pulling up for a wing over followed by the roll of thunder when the four engines are turned towards you. Neck-hair-stander.

  3. Dave 126

    I saw it fly over the Shambala festival in Northamptonshire last August bank holiday. I can only assume it was on its way to a bank holiday airshow somewhere. Any idea which show that might have been?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      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 :)

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      XH558 would make an appearance at more than one event on a busy summer bank holiday, perhaps five. I am sure it was at Goodwood Festival of Speed that day as one of its bookings, would have pass Northampton going either way from Doncaster way.


      Went last year just for the Vulcan and Lancaster flypasts.


  4. MJI Silver badge

    Seen it a few times

    Just flying over

    First time recently we saw this large aircraft in the distance, after some thought, I worked out it HAD to be a Vulcan.

    Then more recently it overflew my house 5 times with some small airliners.

    Yes just sat in garden and watched

    1. Small Furry Animal

      Re: Seen it a few times

      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.

    2. Tim 49

      Re: Seen it a few times

      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.

  5. DJO Silver badge

    Saw it years ago at Biggin Hill Airshow, flying low with the afterburners on, warmed everybody up a treat.

    Superb aircraft, shame to see it go.

    1. Hairy Spod

      Afterburners on eh! I doubt it.

      I think your memory is playing tricks on you sir

      Apart from a few test bed flights (and I think those planes were long since destroyed or decommisioned) the only afterburning versions of the powerplant that the Vulcan used were for the TSR2.

      1. Dan delaMare-Lyon

        I believe one of the first ones used as the test-bed bought it when a turbine failure went through the wing and the fuel on the Vulcan creating a rather substantial and plane-ending fire too....

        1. bristolmoose

          Absolutely true. My Grandad worked at RR and witnessed the destruction of the Vulcan and also a fire tender that got too close!

      2. Conrad Longmore
        Thumb Up

        Ah.. the TSR2. There's a whole other story..

      3. anothercynic Silver badge

        And those power plants were developed into the Olympus 593 for Concorde. The TSR.2 used the 591. :-)

    2. iranu

      We don't use the Americanism "Afterburner", we use the proper term "Reheat".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I don't think the arcade game would have quite received the attention it did if it were called "Reheat" instead of "Afterburner" :)

      2. Dagg Silver badge

        Americanism "Afterburner"

        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.

  6. Dan 10

    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.

  7. Pen-y-gors

    It's wonderful, but...

    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!)

    1. Tim Russell

      Re: It's wonderful, but...

      Metal Fatigue and the unknown unknown... It is sad but what would we think if the last Vulcan crashed because of an unknown metal fatigue issue....

      1. Dave 15

        Metal fatigue

        Can't we xray scan things these days and detect the cracks that are the issue?

        Shuttleworth has planes from the beginning of the 1900's still flying so there must be some way we can manage.

    2. AndyS

      Re: It's wonderful, but...

      > 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.

    3. Tim 49

      Re: It's wonderful, but...

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's wonderful, but...

        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.

      2. Johndoe888

        Re: It's wonderful, but...

        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.

  8. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Part of the UKs unique aviation heritage

    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.

    1. AndyS

      Re: Part of the UKs unique aviation heritage

      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.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Part of the UKs unique aviation heritage

        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.

        1. Rich 11

          Re: Part of the UKs unique aviation heritage

          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?"

    2. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Part of the UKs unique aviation heritage

      "Vulcan, Lightning, and TSR2 " - also to be seen at Duxford.

      Mind you, I can see a Lightning and a Vulcan just down the road in Norwich. And go in the latter.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Part of the UKs unique aviation heritage

      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*.

      1. Ed 13

        Re: Part of the UKs unique aviation heritage

        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."

        (see icon)

  9. Trollslayer

    A little damage was enough

    It mean the Argies didn't dare base aircraft in the Falklands at first so their pilots had to fly from Argentina until it was too late.

    The Vulcan played a major role.

    1. Bob Wheeler
      Thumb Up

      Re: A little damage was enough

      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.

      1. Dan 10

        Re: A little damage was enough

        Indeed - 'Vulcan 607' by Roland White, mesmerising feat of engineering and logistics. I seem to recall something like 90 aircrew, 14 aircraft and umpteen in-flight refuellings. Don't ever tell the RAF that something is impossible!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A little damage was enough

        "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:

    2. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

      Re: A little damage was enough

      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.

      1. stucs201

        Re: something I doubt we'd see today

        Are you sure about that? The last people who didn't expect it got their arses kicked.

  10. Joey

    Vulcan has had his day

    It cost a fortune to keep it airworthy, the money could be better spent. Time to put the old fellow out to stud!

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Vulcan has had his day

      Better spent?

      What on?

      Only things I can think of would be to get a Concorde back in the air, or one of the two surviving TSR-2 Airframes for their maiden flight.

      1. Dan delaMare-Lyon

        Re: Vulcan has had his day

        Both the two TSR2 that remain have had their maiden flights - or did I miss something....actually entering service, that's another issue...

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Vulcan has had his day

          Only the first one flew, XR220 never got the chance, The production lines were destroyed in rather a hurry.

    2. MrTim

      Re: Vulcan has had his day

      Not when it was the money of supporters who kept it going. It wasn't public money. We decide what to do with our spare cash, whether it's a Vulcan, Football, Golf or whatever.

  11. Velv

    Doncaster Sheffield Airport

    "it's hoped she'll find a home at the proposed Vulcan Aviation Academy and Heritage Centre at Robin Hood Airport"

    Nuclear bomber at Robin Hood airport? Hope nobody blows it up

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Sad to see it go

    The thing that makes it seem quite menacing is how slowly it can fly considering its size. Add that to the ground-shaking rumble and it's just totally freakish!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sad to see it go

      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.

  13. imanidiot Silver badge

    Didn't have any plans for a visit to the UK

    Not this year anyway as its not really in the budget. But now I'm considering it.

    It'll be a sad day when it touches down for the last time.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Didn't have any plans for a visit to the UK

      I'll keep my fingers cross that you win the weather lottery on your visit.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Didn't have any plans for a visit to the UK

        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.

    2. Mark 85

      Re: Didn't have any plans for a visit to the UK

      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.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Didn't have any plans for a visit to the UK

        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.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vulcan Power

    The Americans didn't know what hit them =)

  15. Hellcat

    Once in a lifetime, nay, eternity event

    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.

  16. anothercynic Silver badge

    Last year we had the Vulcan come by 3 times in two days because they simply use the Thames as a navaid... nice and slow, and low... like being on a Sunday drive. Got some gorgeous shots of it too. I'll miss her dearly.

  17. Mintyboy

    This takes off from the back of our office and the noise of the engines is brilliant.

    Such a shame for such an amazing majestic plane

  18. Santa from Exeter

    Awesome aircraft

    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.

  19. itmonkey

    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.

  20. AJames

    Starring role in Thunderball

    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.

  21. JimmyPage Silver badge

    All these misty eyed posts

    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).

    1. stucs201

      Re: All these misty eyed posts

      The Harrier was very impressive. However while I've seen many different aircraft impress the crowds at air-shows the Vulcan is only one I've ever seen leave the crowd truly awed.

    2. An ominous cow heard

      Re: Harrier was ... Harrier *is*

      "Now *there* was a engineering marvel AND beauty."

      Not was, is.

      Still flying, still being updated, but not in the UK.

      F35? Will it still be around in fifty years?

    3. IvyKing

      Re: All these misty eyed posts


      The Concorde inlets had nothing on the Blackbird (A-12/YF-12A/SR-71) inlets having to go through several different configurations between Mach 0.0 to Mach 3.2. On top of all that, the inlets were designed to have a low radar cross section.

  22. Davegoody

    Wonderful aircraft

    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.

  23. Mark C 2


    ...come to Wellesbourne on June 21 and see Vulcan 655 taxi a few times.

    Or go and see the Vulcan at Coventry Airport museum. If you are lucky you get to climb into the cockpit and have a look inside.

    1. Mark Allen

      Re: cockpit

      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.

      1. HPCJohn

        Re: cockpit

        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.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Alternatively...

      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.

  24. Bleu

    The V-bombers

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The V-bombers

      the most beautiful things are those which look or are the most dangerous.

      Cars, mountains, women.....the things that can mess you up the worst are the things we find the greatest beauty in.

      1. Mark 85

        Re: The V-bombers

        I wish I could upvote you dozen more times for that... Can I add... "the sea" to that list?

  25. Bleu

    I forgot to add,

    reading about the history of development (not on Wikipedia), the programme seems to have been lethal for several test pilots.

  26. Rick Brasche

    being currently involved in a military vehicle restoration project

    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!

  27. Chris Evans

    One of the few planes that look like they should fly!

    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.

  28. earl grey

    This news brings me to tears

    So my only solution is to lift a beer to all those involved and say "thanks".

  29. Johndoe888

    Looking at the list of appearances booked this year, someone has messed up and forgot to book XH558 for the flypast up the Mall following Trooping the Color :(

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Trooping the colour

      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.

  30. David Given

    Question to the Reg folks...

    ...where do you find a *pilot* for one of these? And can you get an interview?

    I saw a Vulcan at Farnborough once, shortly after the 2006 refurb. Deeply impressive beast, and a hell of a noise.

    1. Small Furry Animal

      Re: Question to the Reg folks...

      "...where do you find a *pilot* for one of these?"

      There's a lot of us still around. I'm only 65 and I confidently expect to live a few more years yet.

  31. MrTim

    First flight today

    Reports suggest the Vulcan will be performing her first test flight of the year today, heading to south to Scampton, although it's likely that other airfields within short flying range from Finningley will get to see her too.

    1. wardster

      Re: First flight today

      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 :)

  32. Tryker


    1 million milss as an AEO on 35 Squadron and then 230 OCU Finningley. Mainly on the XM's with the uprated electrics, engines and airframe. In my logbook I was crew on the delivery flight for "607". Still have many memories of the B2

  33. MrTim

    Second Test Flight Today

    She'll be out again today for more testing and 'display authorisations', all being well. It's anyone's guess where they will take her - Elvington, Linton, Scampton, Waddington, Cottesmore...

  34. AstroNutter
    Thumb Up

    Will never forget this aircraft

    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.

  35. mantavani
    Thumb Up

    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.

  36. Dave 15

    The biggest shame of all

    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

  37. Davie Dee

    Sad day

    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.


  38. Dave 15

    Saddest thing

    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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