Edited Press Release:
The Royal International Air Tattoo has confirmed that Avro Vulcan XH558 will be attending their air show this year. The Vulcan is the first announced aircraft for this summer’s event and is a perfect fit with the show’s ‘Securing the Skies – Past, Present and Future’ theme. Vulcan XH558 will fly into the show on Friday July 17th and remain on static display that day as part of the ‘pit’ experience where visitors will get a chance to get up close to the iconic Cold War bomber under the stewardship of Vulcan to the Sky volunteers. On Saturday July 18th and Sunday July 19th she will soar into the skies above RAF Fairford as part of the flying display. Visitors will also have the opportunity to visit XH558 on the ground for a small donation to the Vulcan to the Sky Trust. Robert Pleming, Vulcan To The Sky Trust’s Chief Executive commented, “We are really delighted to return XH558 to such a prestigious event on the aviation calendar.”
XH588 first flew in 1960 and the RAF took her on charge that same year. The last Vulcan in service by 1986, she joined the RAF’s display wing and continued to demonstrate her graceful lines in the air until 1992. The RAF then retired the bomber to Bruntingthorpe Aircraft Museum in Lutterworth, UK which kept her in live condition, performing fast taxi runs several times each year to eager audiences. The many years of maintenance that XH558 received to stay airworthy while with the RAF Vulcan Display Flight and later as a ground-runner at Bruntingthorpe made her the best candidate from the surviving Vulcans for restoration to flight and an organization formed in 1997 to do just that.
Vulcan to the Sky Trust spent seven years arranging funding and exploring the feasibility of restoring XH558 to airworthy condition. They acquired the plane in 2005 and began working on the restoration. Over the course of the project, there were many difficult hurdles to negotiate, but after enormous effort and the expenditure of over £7 million (US$11M) the group managed to get the Vulcan flying again in October 2007; fourteen years after her last flight. Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority granted XH558 her Permit to Fly the following July. XH558 became a favorite performer on the British air show circuit the instant she arrived, with spectators marveling at the majesty of this massive warbird in flight.
The Air Tattoo is magnificent air show with a long history. The very first Air Tattoo took place at the famous, former RAF Battle of Britain fighter station of North Weald in Essex with just over a hundred aircraft involved. From these ‘small’ beginnings, the show became the International Air Tattoo in 1976. In recognition of its unique status, Her Majesty The Queen approved the show’s title becoming the Royal International Air Tattoo in 1996. The show moved from North Weald to RAF Greenham Common in 1973, staying until 1983. It moved to RAF Fairford in 1985. The Royal International Air Tattoo’s primary beneficiary is the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, a charity which formed in 2005 to support the wider RAF family. As well as seeking to develop a spirit of air-mindedness in youngsters, it also aims to promote excellence within the Royal Air Force.