back to article Vulcan bomber lives to fly another day

The campaign to keep the last flying Vulcan bomber in the air looks to have been successful. Although the full amount has not been raised, enough donations have been found to keep the group behind the bomber trading for the next two summers - crucial for air displays, and to raise more cash. In a letter to supporters Robert …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    My only question is ...

    Why in the fuck doesn't the British .gov get behind this kind of history project? Some bits of kit are too important to be left behind ...

    1. Velv Silver badge

      Concorde ?

      They didn't keep Concorde flying, something I would consider to be far more important than the Vulcan (although the Vulcan is my second favourite aircraft).

      What is even more sad is that they didn't even let private groups take on Concorde. There were backers out there who wanted to keep her in the air, and there were enough people willing to spend the money just to say they'd flown on her. Sadly passenger flights are not available on the Vulcan.

      British Government FAIL

      1. Jess--

        Concorde not flying

        Concorde is a commercial aircraft that was grounded following an accident which highlighted design flaws and was therefore marked as unsafe to fly.

        modifications would need to be made to the design of the fuel tanks & wings to prevent a repeat of the accident in paris (these changes were judged to be too expensive to allow concorde to fly commercially again).

        then you need groundstaff that can maintain the aircraft (pretty much all of the possible suspects are still employed by BA or Air France) and you need a couple of pilots that are certified to fly the aircraft again the only pilots who are currently certified to be able to fly concorde (retired pilots will probably not be an option because their training and certification will be out of date) will be employed by BA or Air France (and I doubt that a group of enthusiasts can raise the cash to compete with the wages offered by them)

        The vulcan was retired by the military but was never grounded, all that was ever required to get a vulcan back into the air was to get it to the state where it could pass a CAA test to obtain a C of A (Certiificate of Airworthiness) and a crew that could be judged as competent to maintain and fly it.

        1. PC1512

          Not so

          British Airways made the necessary modifications to its fleet after the Paris crash cause was clear, lining the fuel tanks with Kevlar - they then relaunched the Concorde service to much fanfare. What eventually stopped it was not safety concerns or any enforced grounding, but the terrorist attacks of 911, which not only massively increased costs and suppressed air travel generally, but killed off several of concorde's most loyal transatlantic customers.

          So in short, a wholly commercial decision on the part of BA, which had little to do with the Paris crash in the end.

        2. Brian Morrison

          It astonishes me...

          ....that you write such incorrect information without even attempting to check the reality.

          Concorde was modified, with kevlar fuel tank linings, and Near Zero Growth Michelin tyres and was re-certified in 2001. The British Airways Concorde that carried out a "passenger" flight with BA staff on board acting as passengers turned round after flying half way across the Atlantic, when it landed at Heathrow the crew and passengers received the news of the World Trade Center attack.

          The final withdrawal from service was down to economics, reduced fares and the deaths of many Concorde regular travellers on11th September 2001, Air France had the worse situation and possibly to salvage French national pride Airbus (who had become the design authority for Concorde) increased their charges for maintaining that status which would then have fallen on British Airways alone. The result was that even BA's higher passenger numbers could not save the aircraft and it was decided to retire the aircraft in October 2003.

        3. Dave 15

          Concorde flawed? Oh please

          Lets be real, very few - if any - commercial airliners could chuck things into their fuel tanks, spew fuel all over an engine and fail to blow up. The whole 'it is a dangerous aircraft' was so much rubbish. Many other commercial planes are STILL flying with a far far worse safety record. Again though these commercial planes aren't British and therefore all faults can be overlooked. Concorde was getting on in years but was still the fastest commercial airliner you could go in, Concorde was expensive to run, but so were its tickets. For those that needed fast transport it was the only way to go. The prospect of keeping one flying was realistic but BA didn't want it because they feared that people might keep using it.

    2. Dave 15

      Primarily because...

      This Conservative government are like the Labour one before, and can both trace roots to Thatchers government who took on board all the Americans believed of us.

      Don't forget:

      a) Britain was a disgusting great slave trading disgusting monster of a country.

      b) Nothing ever built in Britain was ever possibly even vaguely as good as that built elsewhere

      c) We have nothing at all worth saving, we are a blight on humanity and history

      d) We shoudl beg and grobvel forgiveness at every turn for every thing we ever did to anyone - it was all terrible, bad and we should still be whipping ourselves harshly.

      e) This plane, like the Harrier is just a sign of the disgusting nature of this country.

      f) We should be totally ashamed of anything British - we never built anything worth while, we should celebrate the massive achievements of every one else in the world (who of course are free of anything to be ashamed of ever).

      Getting the picture? The BRITISH government HATES the British, everything we've ever done, everything ever achieved. This view is perpetrated through the media which continually assures us that we must import everything because we are incapable of ever making anything

  2. Dan Price


    ...because there's no spare money floating around to do so? Frankly I'd rather see the money spent on giving serving soldiers the equipment they need, not on keeping some cold-war dinosaur flying over air shows.

    1. Scorchio!!


      This aircraft is every bit as important in the history of these islands as the Victory, the Cutty Sark, Buck house, the houses of parliament and much besides.

      It was for its time (1953-1884) an advanced craft - along with the Victor and Valiant - and is still leagues ahead of the Bear, which is so often sent to probe UK air defences.

      Your throwaway attitude to such an important part of our history shows lack of insight into our cultural, technological, military and cultural history of such a magnitude that I can only think that you are unaware of the plane's significance, or that you simply do not care about our history and culture. The plane is up there with the Spitfire, Lancaster, Wellington, Mosquito [...]

      Fortunately it is in any case out of your hands.

  3. Captain TickTock

    Have you seen the Haynes Manual?

    Could Haynes be persuaded to donate something for each copy sold?

  4. Tom Chiverton 1


    So in a year's time there are more Vulcan's flying than Harriers and Tornadoes combined ?

    1. Dave 15


      Which is a great shame but again is down to this governments dislike of all things British.

      After all, while building the two new aircraft carriers we should obviously keep BOTH of our current two and ALL their aircraft while investing in creating a new supersonic Harrier. This government would (like its predecessor) rather tell us we are too stupid, lazy, expensive, ignorant, horrible, nasty to build something and they would rather we sat on the dole while they paid the obviously brilliant, cheap ,super, fantastic, amazing Americans to build something for us.

      This is the British government approach to everything these days - lets put more and more people on the dole and buy everything from abroad. Quite where they got their brains from I don't know.

    2. MrTim

      They do...

      It is a licensed product, and as such the VTST get a cut. They are also sold directly by the VTST on their webstore (

  5. Andy Fletcher

    Er, you what?

    These guys can keep a plane operational for £100000 or so? Perhaps the MOD ought to be hiring them, we might then get to keep an operational Harrier squadron.

    1. Can't think of anything witty...

      I think that...

      you are confusing operational with OPERATIONAL.

      It's all very well keeping the vulcan flying as much as possible but ultimately, the owners could turn around and say "sorry fellas, but the maintainence has over-run and we can't fly it at your airshow today... come back next week".

      i don't think that the same applies to the RAF... and that is before you try to take all those pesky weapons into account...

      1. Dave 15

        Oh come now, the point was well made

        This is a small group operating cheaply, the RAF has accountants by the lorry load and no idea. Currently the British government is saying 'sorry fellas, our only seaborne aircraft are decommissioned along with their boat, can you leave the Falklands for a few years until we have a nice shiny new one and begged some new planes from the yankees?'

        Its pathetic.

    2. Jess--

      Define operational

      varying defenitions of operational

      The vulcan is certified for civilian flight (subsonic only and restricted to air displays if memory serves) It certainly isnt certified for military use, I would imagine that there is also a lot of military hardware missing from the aircraft. basicly as long as you can keep the engines maintained and keep on top of repairs to the airframe you havent got too much to worry about.

      to try and do the same with a military harrier would be far more expensive purely because it is a newer aircraft which would entail a lot of components that are still on the secret list (i.e. Only one supplier and very high priced)

      1. hugo tyson

        Military hardware....

        Yeah, lots of mil HW is removed from XH558, a couple of tons IIRC, so much so that they had to install "Red Slab" radar in the nose radome to get the CG right. "Red Slab" is so-called because it's a big slab of steel, painted red, bolted to the radar supports.

        Also IIRC, its licence is not pressurised, VFR (so daylight), and the Vulcan was always subsonic anyway - its evasion/penetration strategy was to fly very high and fast, but not supersonic. Later when SAMs were developed further, very low and fast, ditto. The huge wing allowed it to switch to that role without suffering excess fatigue, something the (faster, higher) Victor could not do. Hence the Victors became tankers.

  6. Richard Porter

    Re. Concorde not flying

    Concorde was retired on economic grounds, not because it had been grounded. Following the accident in Paris, most of the aircraft were modified and made airworthy again. BA and AF would not let other operators take over Concorde because they might set up a rival service across the Atlantic, and BA wanted to keep the premium fares.

  7. Munchausen's proxy

    Good news, everyone

    I fear it will eventually end in tears and a big smoking hole in the ground, but until then, this is great news. Per aspera ad airshows.

    /hoist one to the sound of freedom

  8. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    A shame about the Concorde, but....

    It's just not safe to fly, even if you had a gaggle of billionaires around that wanted to use the remaining Concordes as private jets. The Concorde's high takeoff speed (because its swept wings are specialized for supersonic cuising they provide poor lift at low speeds) means that the wheels spin incredibly rapidly on takeoff or landing. If something happens to the tires during that period, they can shred and throw shrapnel from the tires and wheels into the hydraulic control lines and the wing fuel tanks. This is not only what happened in the infamous Paris crash 6-7 years back, but the same thing happened to an Air France Concorde at Dulles International outside Washington DC in the late 70s, severing multiple hydraulic lines. Fortunately there was no fatal fire or control failure and the Concorde in question was able to land safely.

    After the investigation of that accident, the head of the American Federal Aviation Administration wrote his French counterpart, using the term "near catastrophic" to describe the accident resulting from the design flaw. Unfortunately, nobody did anything about the flaw.....

    But the Concorde was certainly one of the best-looking planes that ever flew.

  9. Callum

    hang on lads, I've got an idea

    if only we could charity fund a boat, lets call it the "Ark Royal". It would be a shame to have it without some deck ornaments - so we'll throw in Sea Harriers and to make sure it doesn't get torpedo'd by an errant submarine then we'll need 9 or so Nimrods.

    paypal only. can you imagine the fees on £40bn in donations?

    1. Trevor Marron

      Economic as in....

      When the Concorde fleet were being upgraded the carriers introduced thing like flat bed seats and re-instated First Class on many aircraft where previously there was none. Concorde was fast, but was cramped and noisy by comparison.

      And hence the hauliers found that the stinking rich would pay a fortune for a seat on any plane that was poshed-up enough. And that was the end of Concorde.

    2. It wasnt me
      Thumb Down

      Complete crap.

      Its perfectly safe to fly, and as others have stated was retired on purely economic grounds.

      American opposition to concorde has been around as long as the plane itself, and has always been purely political and economic.

    3. Dave 15

      Thats an idea...

      It has been done with other boats as well. At least the Ark is quite shiny and new. Certainly better to keep her than chop her up. And yes, the harriers would make a superb addition.

      If I was you I wouldn't joke but would get on and do it. When you get paypal set up then I'm ready!

    4. Dave 15

      look above

      The tanks were reinforced and the tyres replaced.

      The plane was safer than many of the current ones. There have been several recent 'dropped out of the sky' crashes that were neatly swept under the carpet.

  10. R J Tysoe
    Thumb Up

    Great to hear!

    I missed the Vulcan flying at Farnborough this year as I went on the Sunday when it was grounded due to a brake problem.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Concord? Vulcan? Restore a real Aircraft / Spaceship.

    If they had any balls at all they would restore the space plane that Jesus used to go into low earth orbit.

    It's the invisible flying saucer shaped one, next to Wonder Womans jet.

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