Vulcan’s Last Season

Six years after a return to flight, Britain’s last airworthy Avro Vulcan nuclear bomber will fly for the last time next year, announced the non-profit organization that maintains the aircraft. Next summer will be the “last opportunity anyone will have, anywhere in the world, to see a Vulcan in the air,” said Robert Pleming, Vulcan to the Sky Trust chief executive officer, in an Oct. 12 release. This Vulcan airframe, tail number XH558, was the last nuclear strategic bomber to retire from the Royal Air Force in 1985. Following one of the “most technically complex” aircraft restoration efforts in history, XH558 took to the air again in 2007, flying some 60 shows since, according to the trust. “It’s a remarkable achievement that many people said would be impossible,” said Pleming. Since the delta-wing bomber would require a cost-prohibitive main spar and engine rework to remain airworthy, volunteers decided to restrict the aircraft to “fast-taxi” runs after next year. (See also Air Force Magazine’s June 2011 Airpower Classics entry on the Vulcan.)