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.
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 …
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
> 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.
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.
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.
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