Avro Vulcan XH558 Makes Her Final Flight

XH558 taking off for the last time. (photo by Steven Comber)
XH558 taking off for the last time. (photo by Steven Comber)
XH558 taking off for the last time. (photo by Steven Comber)

Wednesday, October 28th marked the final flight of Avro Vulcan XH558. In a brief, but triumphal display in inclement weather, XH558’s crew showed her off one last time at the former RAF Finningley (now Robin Hood Airport) in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Robin Hood Airport will now become XH558’s permanent home, which seems appropriate, as the aircraft was actually based here during her RAF days with 230 OCU from 1960 until ’68. She will now reside in one of the hangars she once called home in the 1960s.

It was a bittersweet moment when XH558 touched down for the last time (see video above). The Vulcan to the Sky Trust and all of the many volunteers and contributors achieved something marvelous in getting the ‘tin triangle’ back in the air again, and flying safely for so many years. There is much to look back on with great affection considering the enormous mountain the team had to climb in order to achieve their goal. It was a remarkable feat, by any measure, but also sad to see her finally grounded after so many fabulous moments in the air.

Pulling vapor, the XH558 thrills the crowd at the former RAF Finningley. (photo by Steven Comber)
Pulling vapor, the XH558 thrills the crowd at the former RAF Finningley. (photo by Steven Comber)
Pulling vapor, the XH558 thrills the crowd at the former RAF Finningley. (photo by Steven Comber)
Pulling vapor, the XH558 thrills the crowd at the former RAF Finningley. (photo by Steven Comber)

The Vulcan to the Sky trust described her last flight as follows…

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After a morning waiting patiently, press and Trust Volunteers gathered in the drizzle as her engines started, waiting for the sun to burst through the clouds. Just before 3:00, the throttles were opened, the stick pulled back and she climbed into the air for the last time. Ten minutes later she was back on the runway, chute deployed, her flying career over.

We are very grateful to the airport and to the police for their flexibility, without which the final flight would have been cancelled due to weather. We are also immensely grateful to XH558’s supporters for understanding the very difficult position that the popularity of XH558 placed us in as concern about crowds overwhelming the local infrastructure grew. It’s thanks to your understanding that she was able to fly for one last time, allowing this remarkable moment to be captured in stills and video for Vulcan enthusiasts now and into the future.

XH558 roaring in over Doncaster for one last time. (photo by Steven Comber)
XH558 roaring in over Doncaster for one last time. (photo by Steven Comber)

It’s been a remarkable season, with the Trust doing everything possible to take XH558 to her supporters where you are, across the country, in a greatly extended flying season. We sought (and were granted) additional flying hours, allowing her to fly for 50 percent longer than any previous season, with two major Farewell to Flight tours, both of which were amongst her longest sorties since the return-to-flight in 2007. We were also proud to fly at a special Farewell to Flight event for the Vulcan to the Sky Club in September.

And of course the last eight years of remarkable Vulcan displays would not have happened without the remarkable generosity of so many. In front of the press, before closing down after her final flight, XH558 dipped her nose to salute you all.

XH558 on rollout with her parachute deployed. Enthusiasts should at least get to see this sight in the future during high speed taxi runs, though never after a flight again. (photo by Steven Comber)
XH558 on rollout with her parachute deployed. Enthusiasts should at least get to see this sight in the future during high speed taxi runs, though never after a flight again. (photo by Steven Comber)

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Dr.Robert Pleming, who spent 20 years of his life shepherding XH558 from restoration to flight, was unable to attend the Vulcan’s final flight sadly, as he had to undergo major heart surgery the day before. We all wish him a speedy recovery, and much thanks for all he did to bring XH558 back to life again.

XH558 receives a final water-cannon salute as she taxies in after her final flight. (photo by Steven Comber)
XH558 receives a final water-cannon salute as she taxies in after her final flight. (photo by Steven Comber)

WarbirdsNews wishes to thank the Vulcan to the Sky Trust for their details and particularly Steve Comber for allowing us to use his marvelous images from XH558’s final flight. The Vulcan will live on in its original RAF hangar from its days at Finningley and will be kept ‘live’ for regular ground-running and fast taxi events. A new educational center is going to be built up around the Vulcan as part of the Vulcan Aviation Academy and Heritage Center. The aircraft will als0 be available for public viewing (click HERE to see how to arrange your visit).

The Vulcan to the Sky Trust is also producing a video of XH558’s final tour, and it is bound to be a fascinating documentary; click HERE to pre-order your copy.

Take a bow XH558... it's been magic having you in the air these past few years. (photo by Steven Comber)
Take a bow XH558… it’s been magic having you in the air these past few years. (photo by Steven Comber)

6 Comments

  1. Such a shame…why is it that everything britain does so well ends up on a scrap heep…Hovercrsft.lightening. concorde. Etc the list goes on.Why can we not see the importance of our own engineers designers etc , She was and still is an astonishing emotive aircraft…lets hope maybe just maybe she will fly again …..

  2. Surely she is worthy of being made an historical important part of our history just like the Lancaster which will always fly … certain things in Britain should remain to remind us of the pride we seem to lack these days in anything we have done in the past or have achieved .The.Vulcan is an iconic aircraft lets not prevent her from soaring and howeling in our skies ….

  3. Please excuse my spelling of ‘Howling’ Thats why i am not a vulcan pilot!! What a legend Martin is and his crew and ground staff …..

  4. Well did he or did’nt “The roll” i think its clever camera editing? I cant believe a pilot of Martins calibre would do that…but you know what, if he did? so many people would think its a fitting tribute for the lady and im sure its no more dangerous than every other plane that is still doing high ‘G’ stunts…like the red arrows , but i still believe martin was and is a true professional ex RAF pilot with high standards like my father,who now at 81 has these qualities and is ex RAF …….

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