This mighty delta forms the unmistakable outline of the iconic Vulcan bomber, Britain’s Cold War nuclear deterrent. The Vulcan in the picture, XH558, is the last flying example of the type, kept alive by a dedicated team of enthusiasts and the unconditional support of her fans. But not all Vulcans have been so lucky…
Here lies the forlorn remains of Vulcan XL392, used for fire fighting practice at RAF Valley, Anglesey. The awesome size and might of the Vulcan that defended the country and thrilled airshow crowds also made it an ideal candidate for fire training. While many aircraft would be destroyed quite swiftly, Vulcans survived the heat for years. The top picture shows XL392 relatively intact in 1983. Two years later and it’s a rather different story, although this Vulcan managed almost another decade before its charred remains were scrapped.
XH558 was retired from RAF service in 1984 but continued flying as a display aircraft until 1992, when the government pulled the plug on funding. Unlikely to ever fly again, more than a decade later a mammoth restoration effort began to restore the Vulcan to flying condition. The Vulcan to the Sky Trust, the charity that owns XH558, raised over £6 million to overhaul the aircraft and secure a license to fly – seemingly achieving the impossible! In 2007, the mighty Vulcan flew for the first time in 15 years, testament to the incredible work of the Trust and the generous support of fans across the world. And thanks to a mystery donation the Vulcan has just been saved from likely permanent grounding, but funding is still a grave concern. The Vulcan celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Click here to support the Vulcan to the Sky Trust.
Here is the moment so many people waited years for – XH558 returns to flight in 2007 after her long hiatus. The hollow howl of the four olympus engines was music to the ears of many:
And finally, XH558 arriving at RAF Waddington – the base where she spent most of her service career – for the first time since 1992; a proud and poignant moment for all involved – and a big round of applause to prove it: