As any fan of XH558 – the last remaining flying Avro Vulcan – knows, this year is its final year of flight. If scarcity adds value to an experience, then you’ll want to make sure you catch sight of it while you can – and it is now confirmed to make an appearance on the Saturday of the Goodwood Revival. It will surely be an unmissable element of this year’s event.
As Dr Robert Pleming, chief executive of Vulcan to the Sky, says: ‘If you don’t see her this season, there will be no more opportunities to hear a Vulcan’s spine-tingling howl as she climbs high into the sky for another memorable display, or to see her rolling onto her side to reveal her giant delta silhouette.’ It’s a spectacle that never loses any of its drama, no matter how many times you see it.
So why is XH558 retiring from the sky? At the heart of Vulcan to the Sky’s decision are two factors. First, although XH558 is currently as safe as any aircraft flying today, her structure and systems are already more than ten percent beyond the flying hours of any other Vulcan, so knowing where to look for any possible failure will become more difficult. Second, maintaining her superb safety record requires expertise that is increasingly difficult to find. The team already bring specialists out of retirement specifically to work on XH558…
Once it’s grounded, XH558 will form part of an educational programme with the aim of helping the UK develop the aviation and engineering expertise it needs. In the meantime, don’t miss a chance to see it fly for one of the final times.
Images copyright of Eric Coeckelberghs and courtesy of Vulcan to the Sky Trust www.vulcantothesky.org