Warbirds Online has long been a fan of the Avro Vulcan and although the aircraft was a success throughout its RAF service from 1956 until 1984, it was also a very dramatic performer as a display aircraft. My earliest sight of a Vulcan was at primary school at Dubbo NSW in the early 1960s when a visiting Vulcan flew over the town at low altitude and gave a fantastic display ending in a steep climb to height. It was a huge and elegant aircraft and the noise was very dramatic too, enough to make a big impression on a young man.
The only operational use of the Vulcan was in the famous “Black Buck” missions of a Vulcan from the UK all the way to the Falklands to bomb the Port Stanley airfield refueled by Victor tankers using a total of 5 million liters of fuel!
From 1986 until 1993, the last serviceable Vulcan XH558 was utilized by the RAF as a display aircraft and was then retired and sold to private interests who strived to keep her “live” pending the possibility of flying her again.
After a protracted and very expensive refurbishment of the aircraft the Vulcan returned to fight again in 2007 and has been operating on and off ever since under the auspices of an organization called “Vulcan to The Sky”.
We hear many questions raised as to how long the aircraft can continue to operate, given the conditions it is operated under and given the huge expense of operating her. It has even been suggested that 2015 may be her last flying year, but it could be extended a little longer if funds are available and regulators relax some of the more arduous constraints on her operation parameters.
Warbirds Online was privileged to see this magnificent aircraft fly at Farnborough 2014 and at the Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm display and it was certainly a very exciting sight and the ground really trembles when she is in the air. Whilst I am aware that the display parameters are somewhat restricted in terms of the maneuvers the aircraft is allowed to fly I must say one is not aware of that when the aircraft is performing. Again I was reminded of the spiraling climb I had witnessed in the 1960s as the aircraft took off and climbed to height before performing a series of flybys and banking turns. Oh and that noise was FANTASTIC!!
While one may argue about the huge amount spent to keep the Avro Vulcan flying, mostly from the public and the National Lottery Fund, but one can’t argue with the result. I strongly advise anybody who can get to see this aircraft fly to do so while you still can.
The aircraft operator’s website is well worth a look, for more information on this great aircraft.
© John Parker 2014