Video shows Vulcan bomber at Doncaster airport still works

It’s the picture that shows the Vulcan bomber based at Doncaster airport remains in fine health!

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 5:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 1:46 pm

This was the view from the pilot’s cockpit as the Vulcan to the Sky Trust charity took the Cold War jet for a spin around the tarmac for an audience of aviation enthusiasts – years after the plane stopped flying.

The pilot took the aircraft for a circuit at slow speed under the power of its jet engines before parking the plane in front of the group who had paid for a one-off view and meal.

The trust confirmed it is still taking the aircraft out for ground runs, most recently last week, at a time when the organisation which looks after it admits it has become increasingly aware that its supporters are becoming frustrated and some people had lost confidence in it ever establishing a safe and secure home for the aircraft.

Picture of the Vulcan bomber taxiing at Doncaster Airport on Sept 14

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Until four years ago their aircraft was the last airworthy Vulcan. But it finally had to be grounded on October 28, 2015, because of the cost of work that needed to be done in its wings.

Dr Robert Pleming, the company secretary of the Vulcan To the Sky Trust, told the Free Press that he still believed plans to build a visitor attraction around the Vulcan – and another Cold War bomber, a former RAF Canberra – will go ahead.

And he said talks with the airport could soon make the Vulcan more accessible to the public.

Dr Pleming said the original plans had hit the buffers because an investor who had been lined up for the project to build a hangar for the aircraft had failed to come up with the money.

Picture of the Vulcan bomber taxiing at Doncaster Airport on Sept 14

The disappointment came after the trust had developed a design and secured planning permission for the hangar, on land bought for the attraction at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

It suffered another blow when a Sheffield City Region capital grant expired in March, because the money, which was conditional on the investor’s funds being available, had to be spent before the end of March 2019.Dr Pleming said the trustees are working hard to find new investors and believe a further application for an SCR grant to fund the hangar fit-out if another investor a new investor is found would be considered favourably.

He said: “It was disappointed for us, because we had been working with the investor for 15 months, and we believe there is a solid business case for the scheme. We abandoned that deal in March.

“We are now on a new path, talking to new people about investment. It has taken an awfully long time but I remain confident that it will happen. The plan is still for the same hangar, and I’ve been delighted with the help we have received from local firms.”

An artist's impression of how the hangar could look

He said the trust still planned to bring the Canberra back to airworthy condition, and would like to do that at the hangar it planned to build at the airport. But he has not ruled out doing the work elsewhere if necessary.

The trust is also considering applying for a national lottery heritage grant to pay for that work, which would involve reconditioning some of the five engines they have for the aircraft.

At present, the aircraft are out in the open at the airport. But the Vulcan was designed to stand outside so it could take off quickly if it was called into action when it carried Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

It will be covered for the winter, and will be given weekly checks by the trust’s staff.

Vulcan XH558 takes off from Doncaster Robin Hood Airport on Saturday on a national tour in 2015. This was the last time the Vulcan flew around the UK before her retirement.

Dr Pleming said he was keen that there should be greater access to their aircraft.

He said: “For the last few years, we have been able to let people see the Vulcan taxi on the ground. But people have to pass through airport security to get it in the same way as if they were going to fly from the airport.

“It is expensive to get a single person through security, so we are looking for a solution to reduce that so it is not prohibitively expensive.”

He said there were many unique aspects to the trust’s Vulcan, which was both the first and last operational Vulcan with the RAF.

But he admitted the timescale for any progress was difficult to judge. “We are aware of the importance of keeping it in the public eye,” he said.

“We spent a lot of time and attention putting together the business case for the the city region grant. A condition on that was other finance being available. But we were told to come back if we are in a position to get finance, so we are quite optimistic.”

The trust has reduced its cost base, and expects it to have fallen by 31 per cent over the last year by the end of this month.But the trust says it aims to continue with its contractual and charitable commitments to safeguard the aircraft and related assets, and continuing to raise the funds needed to carry out these activities.