Just after 3pm on Wednesday October 28, 2015, Avro Vulcan XH558 made both it and the type’s final landing at Doncaster Robin Hood airport amidst a small group of onlookers, closing the curtain on the machines second coming.
As had been alluded to in the weeks prior, the last flight itself was shrouded in secrecy with only a small number of people notified in advance of the days plans. For many, the first that they became aware of the Vulcan to the Sky Trusts plans for the final trip was the announcement made on social media just 30 minutes before the flight. The secrecy even extended as far as both the crewing in and the pre-flight checks being performed in the hangar prior to the jet being towed out to minimise the risk of the departure being leaked.
With little warning, the large crowds that have symbolised the ‘Vulcan Effect’ over the past eight years were unable to gather for XH558’s farewell to the sky due to the wishes of both the local Police and Airport Management. However, arrangements had been made for a live stream of the event to allow the public a chance to witness this historic event in some sort of fashion – Planes TV providing the live feed on YouTube along with a separate Periscope link.
At 14:47, the crew of Bill Ramsey, Martin Withers, Phil Davies and Jonathan Lazzari lifted XH558 into the skies for the last time for the short planned flight around the airport. With a spirited wingover after take-off, the aircraft returned for a fly through down the runway where the conditions gave a rare vision of vapour pouring off the machines delta wings, before one final circuit to land on runway 02. With the brake chute streaming on landing, all that was left was for the crew to bring the aircraft back to her stand for a water cannon salute before the engines were shut down for the final time after a flight.
Many said that the restoration of the Vulcan couldn’t be achieved, many have criticised the way the Trust has been run and many continue to criticise the future plans for XH558. However, one thing is clear – the restoration to flight was of a scale and magnitude that will quite probably never be seen again for a private operation.
After 228 flights that have amassed some 346 hours since returning to the skies in 2007, Avro Vulcan XH558 – the last British designed four engine jet aircraft to grace the skies – has captured the hearts and minds of many across the country as well as the world.
AeroResource are trying to build a picture wall covering the last 8 years of Vulcan XH558’s flying career with submissions welcome from anyone. For more info, check out this post.