PRESS RELEASE- The last flying Avro Vulcan has returned to the air following a remarkable modification to her wings that was funded entirely by her supporters. More than £400,000 was raised to give the iconic all-British jet a further two years flying by extending the life of her airframe. She took off for the first time in early June following the vital work and is now well into a summer display season that will take her across the United Kingdom.Dr Robert Pleming, Chief Executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) said;“Extending her flying life required a remarkable operation that combined the very latest 3D scanning and analytical techniques with a range of traditional craft skills that I have to say were quite amazing,”
“It was remarkably British, at times looking positively eccentric, yet always combining innovation and engineering excellence. An error of just a few thousandths of an inch could have grounded her forever.”
Dr Pleming is also quick to thank XH558’s supporters who donated their time and money to give the engineering team the resources they needed. “Without their hard work and generosity, there would no longer be such a dramatic reminder of this amazing period in British history, when we really did rule the skies.”
“We are absolutely delighted that the Vulcan is returning to the Farnborough International Airshow once again, where I am sure she will receive a tremendously warm welcome. It is particularly gratifying for us to be able to bring the Vulcan back to the iconic location where she made such a spectacular public debut so many years ago”Sixty-two years after the prototype Vulcan’s first dramatic appearance at the famous Farnborough International Airshow, and after a long and highly successful association with the show, starting when the prototype aircraft stunned audiences with a surprise appearance in 1952, this year’s Farnborough could well be the last at which a Vulcan will fly.
“It’s a sad truth that XH558, the world’s last flying Vulcan – and the only airworthy V-Force aircraft of any type – is unlikely to fly on beyond the 2015 display season,” announced Dr Robert Pleming, Chief Executive of Vulcan to the Sky Trust, the charity that operates the aircraft. “By the end of that season, it looks like she will be reaching the end of her agreed engine life and it is unlikely that we will be able to extend this. So sadly this will mean that the dream which is the Vulcan will finally come to an end and because of course Farnborough is held every other year, this means that the 2014 event will probably be the last appearance of the iconic aircraft.”
Help needed to fund Summer Flying
While growing commercial income makes a contribution to the £2.2 million annual budget for operating XH558, she is still very much dependent on support from the British public. To fund the summer flying activities, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust has launched a new raffle with ‘money can’t buy’ prizes that include a flight alongside XH558 in a Spitfire. There are also a range of other incentives and unique Vulcan memorabilia for those who support the last flying Vulcan. Please visit the ‘Vulcan Village’ on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the show to see our wide range of merchandise and to meet with members of the Vulcan to the Sky team, including the aircrew. We will also be offering tours under the wings of the aircraft.More information can be found on the charity’s website; www.vulcantothesky.org including details about the aircraft’s list of summer engagements. There is also a popular Facebook community at www.facebook.com/VulcanXH558 and a Twitter feed at #XH558.
Vulcan history at Farnborough
It is sixty four years since the prototype Vulcan’s first dramatic appearance at the famous Farnborough event, when just three days after the first flight, test pilot Roly Falk made a solo sortie to Farnborough where he stunned the world’s aviation industry with the snow-white aircraft’s dramatic delta-profile and impressive agility, performing an almost vertical bank in front of the crowds. “People who were there at the time have said that the Vulcan almost literally took their breath away,” said Dr Pleming. “The aircraft was so new that it was referred to as ‘Avro prototype 698’ although the press were speculating that it would be called Ottawa.” In 1955 Falk returned and, to emphasise that the giant bomber handled like a jet fighter, performed a now legendary barrel roll.The Vulcan first returned to Farnborough to great acclaim in 2008, the year that she returned to public display after the incredibly complex restoration programme that cost £7.4 million, including an important contribution of £2.74 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Now this, the last flying example of the iconic all-British aircraft, will be appearing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for what is likely to be the last time after a long and distinguished association with the show.
Building a Legacy to be proud of!
Vulcan to the Sky Trust representatives will be at Farnborough from Monday, specifically looking for opportunities to talk to members of the aerospace industry about proposals for a lasting public benefit legacy for after XH558 ceases to fly. The Trust’s ambition is to keep XH558 in fully working condition, as the centrepiece in a new and radically different facility whose goal is to inspire the young of all ages in aviation, aerospace and engineering – and by so doing, help solve the significant engineering skills challenges currently experienced in the UK. If companies attending Farnborough see difficulties ahead in finding the right engineering skills, either as apprentices or graduates, then the Trust would like to hear from them. The Trust would be happy to meet to explain further, or alternatively arrange for a full briefing presentation after the show. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/SMS on 07803 141483 to make an appointment. If at the show, please provide a mobile telephone number, together with your hall and trade stand number as appropriate.