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Old 10-28-2015, 11:33 AM   #32
Junior Master Dwellar
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Buckinghamshire UK
Posts: 3,550
Vulcan bomber touches down forever after final flight

The world's last airworthy Vulcan bomber has completed its final flight, which had to be kept secret until the last minute for fear huge crowds would attend.

Vulcan XH558, a restored nuclear bomber, takes-off for its final flight at Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport

The only remaining flying Vulcan bomber has landed for the last time.

The distinctive delta-winged Cold War aircraft, which once carried Britain's nuclear deterrent, took off from Doncaster Robin Hood Airport for a short final trip on Wednesday afternoon.

Organisers had kept details of the final flight secret until the last minute over fears that dangerously large crowds would throng the airport for one last chance to see the aircraft.

A final nationwide tour held earlier this month was nearly cancelled after police concerns they would be unable to handle an influx of thousands of enthusiasts turning up at once.

Hundreds of thousands are believed to have glimpsed Vulcan XH558 as it spent two days doing flypasts around the country a fortnight ago.

Martin Withers, who led the 1982 Vulcan raids on the Falklands, was the pilot for the final flight.

As he prepared, he said: "Everyone asks me what is so special about this aircraft and why people love it. Really the people who fly it are the wrong people to ask. It's such a combination of grace and beauty of just seeing this thing fly.

"Just to see it fly along, it's so graceful. And then that combines with the sense of power and manoeuvrability you've got with this aircraft and the vibrations it makes. It just seems to turn people on emotionally, they really love it."

Former pilot Angus Laird added: "I think it's very, very sad but we all come to a time when we stop flying. She's an old lady now and she's stopped at the height of her popularity, which I think is brilliant."

XH558, which first came into RAF service in 1960, has been kept in the air by a volunteer trust since 2007.

This summer, millions of people have watched it as it has made a farewell tour of the UK before its permit-to-fly expires at the end of October.

The Vulcan To The Sky Trust, which brought the 55-year-old aircraft back to flight eight years ago, has accepted advice from supporting companies that they no longer have the expertise to keep it airworthy as engineers retire from the industry.

Vulcan XH558 at Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport

XH558 will stay in its Cold War hangar at Robin Hood Airport - once RAF Finningley - where the trust is planning a visitor centre and also to continue "fast taxiing" the massive bomber around the runways.

The trust had to keep details of Wednesday's final flight under wraps until the last minute as the aircraft has become such a popular attraction.

Airport officials feared news of the event could attract thousands of spectators, endangering its normal operations.

John Sharman, chairman of the trust, said: "It's a sad day but its also a day of optimism in many ways.

"Today marks the end of the beginning of this life of Vulcans because we have huge plans for the future.

"We will preserve this aeroplane for the nation in working order, if not in flying order, for the future as the centrepiece of a heritage centre."

Mr Sharman said: "She is very beautiful, she is very powerful, she is is totally unique, totally distinct. And that delta shape seems to inspire both young and old."

Daily Telegraph

I last saw XH558 a few years ago when it flew a display routine at a small local air show.
Even at some distance, when the aircraft was flying under full power, you could 'feel' the noise as well as hear it.
It actually made the chest cavity vibrate. It was a remarkable aircraft, and even those who knew little about aircraft, and probably cared less, would watch.
Mercifully it was never called upon to lob a nuke at Ivan.
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