Aviation enthusiasts will be watching eBay over Christmas as the Vulcan to the Sky Trust lists a range of rare memorabilia and behind-the-scenes experiences with the last flying Vulcan. Items include exclusive days with the ground crew preparing the aircraft for flight, Battle of Britain and Spitfire prints signed by famous pilots, flown components from Vulcan XH558, and flight suits worn and signed by Vulcan pilots, including Black Buck 1, Falklands mission captain Martin Withers DFC.
“We are covering everything from original cartoon artwork of XH558 to top-quality pictures of Vulcans, Concorde and the Red Arrows,” says the charity’s marketing manager Ian Homer. “Every penny raised will be put towards the winter service, preparing XH558 for a spectacular 2012 Diamond Jubilee season.”
Throughout 2012, XH558 has the blessing of Buckingham Palace to fly in celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, which is also the Diamond Jubilee of the Vulcan aircraft type. Tens of thousands of British people are expected to send their messages of congratulations to Her Majesty by taking part in the Vulcan’s Salute, which will fly names in a hand-crafted leather book before presenting them at the Palace. More information on the Vulcan Salute to Her Majesty is available here.
To findout how to help XH558 remain The Last Flying Vulcan, go to VulcanToTheSky.org
The Avro Vulcan is an iconic example of British aerospace engineering. The aircraft flew for the first time in 1952, just 11 years after the first flight of its predecessor, the Avro Lancaster. Its list of technical achievements includes being the first successful large delta wing aircraft (leading directly to Concorde), innovations such as electrically-powered flying controls, one of the first applications of anti-lock brakes, and an agility that was so close to a jet fighter’s that it was given a fighter-style control column in place of the traditional bomber pilot’s yoke.
Success as a Cold War peacekeeper meant that the Vulcan might have flown its entire service life without ever entering combat if it hadn’t been for the Falklands Conflict in 1982. During a marathon 8,000 mile flight supported by 11 Victor tankers, Squadron Leader Martin Withers and his crew released the bombs over Port Stanley Airport that prevented Argentina operating its Mirage III fighters from the island and initiated the campaign that recaptured the Falklands. Two years later, the last Vulcans were withdrawn from service.
Today, only one Vulcan is left flying: XH558, owned by the Vulcan To The Sky Trust, a Registered Charity. Returned to the air in 2007, she has become an airshow phenomenon. “People forget that airshows attract 7 million people annually. That’s second only to football,” say trust officials. “An appearance by the Vulcan builds even on this remarkable level, typically increasing attendance by 20-40%. Airshow organisers talk about ‘the Vulcan Effect’ and have described the aircraft as a national treasure.”