To mark 60 years since it first soared into the sky, the worlds only remaining air-worthy Avro Vulcan 558 will be flying at the Bournemouth Air Festival this weekend.
The Prototype Avro Vulcan No.698 first flew on August 30 1952, and now Sixty years later, the last flying example of that plane, which was later named the Vulcan, will celebrate its Diamond anniversary with air displays at the Bournemouth Air Festival and Shoreham Airshow this weekend. Now a famous example of British engineering heritage, the Vulcan was designed to carry Britain’s new nuclear deterrent, codenamed “Blue Danube”. Its vast size and large delta wing ensure it is perfectly distinctive today, let alone in 1952, when some thought they’d seen an alien spaceship. It was, indeed, the first large delta wing aircraft (leading directly to Concorde), and featured innovations such as electrically-operated flying controls and an early version of ABS braking. Compared with its Avro Lancaster predecessor, which had first flown just 11 years before the Vulcan prototype climbed into the sky, its speed and agility were astonishing.
The plane only entered combat once, and not in its nuclear capacity, when it flew 8,000 miles to Port Stanley Airport on the Falkland Islands in 1982, dropping bombs that prevented Argentina operating its own Mirage III fighters. Two years later the Vulcans were withdrawn from service and today only one, XH558, still flies. This is owned by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, which returned XH558 to the air in 2007. Since then the charity has managed to display the Vulcan at numerous airshows, which attract up to seven million people (including me) annually. Now Airshow organisers talk about ‘the Vulcan Effect’ and have also described the aircraft as a national treasure.”
Bournemouth Air Festival will take place on September 1st & 2nd 2012 ahead of a Jubilee Tour in September which will visit locations key to the Vulcan’s development and is one of the only UK shows where the aircraft display over the sea, giving more opportunities to put on a really dramatic show. The plane will be flown by Squadron Leader Martin Withers DFC who says of the Vulcan. “It is a delight to fly and a fine example of British achievement at its best.” (I wish the Government didn’t keep getting rid of more fine examples of British achievement too such as the TSR 2 and Concorde), I’m all for keeping it going. The only reason Concorde crashed was because it encountered something which fell off another plane, and yet they kept that plane going whilst grounding Concorde. surely if something drops off a plane it is not airworthy and should be grounded.