Saturday, 31 October 2009

Robert Plemings' Vulcan Update - Oct 31st

It is now two weeks since we launched our Appeal. Unfortunately, due to the current postal strikes, it appears that only a fraction of our list of supporters have received XH558’s 50th Birthday Appeal mailing, and so are not fully aware of the current situation. Hopefully, given another week or so, everyone on the database will have received the information pack.

As it will be a few more days before we have active income figures available on the Appeal website, I can tell you that so far we have received slightly less than £20,000 in direct donations, together with increases in monthly Standing Order commitments of £400.

Given our target is to raise a minimum of £400,000 before Christmas, we now need to average £50,000 per week; I’m sure you agree that we have some catching up to do over the next few weeks. We need to have these funds in place to ensure we can commit to the engineering work that needs to be done by outside companies in time to meet our Engineering Timetable for 2010. This is why it is so important we ask everyone to do whatever they can NOW.

Having said all that, we all realise that we can not keep asking the same staunch and loyal supporters to keep putting in more than they can afford. So it is vital that we reach out to new supporters and other audiences. I’ve previously mentioned that just a fraction of those touched by XH558 this year helped to finance her – it is exactly those people we must aim to bring on board.

For those who have received their Appeal mailing, especially those who live in the vicinity of one of the airshows visited by XH558 this year, why don’t you do what I did last week, and visit your local newsagent. My newsagent was more than happy to agree to my request to place the poster from the Appeal in his window for all to see – he is after all a Vulcan supporter!

Just this morning there was a good five minute feature on Vulcan and Vulcan Ventures on Radio Northamptonshire. This free yet wide coverage is exactly what will help us.

Next week, we have regional adverts in selected papers and magazines, while campaign leaflets will be distributed for us by other organisations friendly towards XH558, to reach their own audiences. If you are confident that you know an organisation who would be happy to distribute our campaign leaflets, please contact Ian Homer on 07791 617776.

We are also mounting a significant presence at the “MPH Top Gear Live” show at Earls Court next week 5th – 8th November. Please come and find us if you are in the area between Thursday and Sunday on Stand TS49. We are planning to capture a key member of the Top Gear Team to come over and talk to us!

If you are reading this on our website, let me remind you that you can subscribe to our email updates, which means that you will automatically receive these messages when they are published. Please visit:

Finally, please continue to do whatever you can to help promote our cause, and hopefully, we will see a marked improvement in income next week.

Kind Regards,

Robert Pleming

Chief Executive

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Robert Plemings's Vulcan Update

It’s now a week since we launched XH558’s 50th Birthday Appeal on our website, and we’ve had some pretty positive feedback, which is most heartening.

Annoyingly, the Postal Strike has interfered with our planned mailing to all of our supporters, so today only a few appear to have received the Appeal leaflets and supporting information. Hopefully, if you have ever given us your name and address, these should be arriving over the next few days.

It’s worth pointing out that if it wasn’t for the additional work we need to do this winter, our identified funding sources would nearly pay for the whole year’s costs, avoiding the need for a full-scale appeal. Even so, we have reduced our dependence on an Appeal from 50% of our funds to 33%, which I think is good progress in one year.

As mentioned in a previous update, we have to pay for most technical, engineering and support costs upfront, rather than when they have been completed. This really does put urgency behind our fund-raising – we must make the £400,000 target before Christmas if we to meet the deadlines for engineering work completion for the 2010 season.

Shortly, we will be targeting fresh audiences and databases with the aim of widening our reach with this 50th Birthday Appeal to all those who saw XH558 this year.

In the meantime, you can assist at very little cost, simply by considering who out of your relatives, friends and colleagues might be interested in themselves helping us. Below is a a suggested “script” for you to send; please “cut & paste” into an email or short letter and tailor it as necessary. I suggest it would be most effective if you only send it to people you know rather than as an untargeted missive.

Dear Friend / Relative / Name

I am a keen supporter of XH558, the restored Avro Vulcan that has become the star attraction at air shows around the UK during this summer, appearing in front of many millions of people. You may remember me talking about it!

With the continuing poor economic climate, the Charity that operates the aircraft has just launched an Appeal for public funding which can be seen here:

The project has two aims: Honouring the Past – including those who stood guard during the Cold War years of which the Vulcan is such an enduring symbol, and Inspiring The Future, enthusing the children of today in Aeronautics, Science, Design and Technology.

You only have to visit the Guest Book to see how much this icon of British design & engineering affects people:

Around 50,000 people donated last year to keep the project going. With your help, we can take our message out to many, many more.

We need to raise £400,000 before Christmas and the same again before Easter. Please do whatever you can to help. A one-off donation of any amount or a small monthly standing order will be hugely appreciated.

If money is tight, then just talking about our project or passing on this email to others in your address book will be of great help!

With many thanks,

Yours etc

If there are businesses that you think might be interested in supporting XH558, then please let us know: we have suitable packages from £500 upwards especially for businesses.

Some of you will also have noticed we have already made improvements to the Appeal Home Page, now including a direct link to our promotional video.

My next update will aim to give you the current total received to date, whilst it is our intention soon to give regular updates by way of the Results page.

Once again, I must stress how important it is we get a significant amount of our target in within the next few weeks. The future of XH558 depends on it!

With best wishes,

Robert Pleming
Chief Executive VTS Trust

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Mike Pollitt interview - Part 2

Today, it’s the second part of the interview with the Vulcan to the Sky Operations Director, Mike Pollitt, who agreed to do a brief interview on his involvement with XH558.

Yesterday’s blog featured part 1 of the interview where Mike said amongst his highlights were “getting through the season safely”, “loving the spiral climb at the end of the show”, was delighted by the British Public’s response towards the Vulcan, and also commented that they would like to fly into an airshow with the Red Arrows next year.

Hopefully that will come true next year in what we all hope will be a successful 50th birthday celebration season for the only remaining flying Vulcan in the world!

So, to Part 2 of the Mike Pollitt interview:

TVB: Just how much fun is it being part of the Vulcan team?

MP: They are all wonderful people to work with on the Team and although we suffer frustrations at times altogether the experience is remarkably rewarding and naturally fun with this lot!

TVB: What is the planned date for the Vulcan’s return to the air in 2010?

MP: Early May hopefully.

TVB: How long can the Vulcan go on for if the money continues to come in to keep XH558 in the air?

MP: The engines are our limiting factor if we can complete the required airframe modifications. Therefore, with possibly 8 engines with 1200 cycles on each at present we envisage we can display her for about another 8 years possibly slightly more with RR’s assistance and continuing support.

TVB: With the sad news that Woodford, the birthplace of XH558, will be closing in 2012, are there plans to say goodbye to the site, with a farewell display?

MP: I think that your suggestion is a nice idea and a fitting tribute – we should consider that very seriously. We overflew Woodford on our last display day this season, just in case it was to be our last flight. We might do the same next year too if we can display at Southport again. So I would like to add Woodford in 2012, it would be the 30th anniversary of the Falkland Conflict too.

So, with a bit of luck, Woodford will get to see a bit more of 558 before the site closes, along with a potential Falklands Conflicty anniversary too. Hopefully we can all look forward to Vulcan displays through to 2018, and maybe just maybe, it could be part of a special flypast for the World Cup at Wembley – now that would nice, imagine a spiral climb over the arch!!

Thanks once again to Mike for the interview, and don’t forget that if you want to see the Vulcan at displays in the future, then please, please, donate to the appeal, by clicking this link!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Mike Pollitt interview - Part 1

Today sees the first part in a brief two part interview with Mike Pollitt, Operations Director for the Vulcan to the Sky Trust...

TVB: It’s been a really successful season for the Vulcan to the Sky Team, what have been the highlights for you personally?

MP: Getting through the season safely was my greatest delight. I was pleased that we had spiced the display up a little this year and loved the spiral climb ending to the show too. I have been delighted with our serviceability throughout the season (thanks to Taff and the engineering team). I was also delighted by the response from the great British public ranging from a couple who we overflew on their 50th wedding anniversary who were simply overjoyed - to the rapturous reactions of the crowd at the big shows such as Lowestoft and Fairford.

TVB: 2009 saw a couple of fly bys with the Red Arrows and also Typhoons, are there any plans to vary the entrance to displays for next years schedule?

MP: We also flew with Hunters, F16s and VC10s. Nothing in the pipeline for next year yet but we would like to arrive at a show with the Reds certainly.

TVB: The plans for the funding appeals for next year’s 50th celebrations have just been released, can you underline just how important it is for the Vulcan to be flying during those celebrations?

MP: It’s just important to keep her flying for as long as we can. Actually, to me, anniversaries are not important occasions, ask my wife! Just keeping the aircraft going is my driving ambition.

Please click here to donate to the 50th Birthday appeal

Part Two of the brief interview will appear here tomorrow on the blog.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Mike Pollitt Interview coming up this week!

Coming up this week on the Vulcan Bomber Blog, I'm pleased to announce an interview with the Vulcan to the Sky Trust Operations Director, Mike Pollitt.

Mike joined the RAF back in 1974, and completed flying training on Jet Provosts, Hunters, before being posted to Phantoms, before moving on to the Vulcan Force in 1978.

Mike then completed his co-pilot tour in 1981, and qualified as Captain, followed by a 4 year spell at Cranfield, where he trained as an instructor on Jet Provosts.

Scampton was Mike's next destination as he was placed in command of the Squadron just after joining, where he had a heavy involvement in the introduction of the Tucano aircraft.

Following the retirement of XH558 in 1992, Mike returned to the Vulcan team in 1998, helping out with the taxi runs of 558 at Bruntingthorpe, and also XM655 at Wellesbourne, before then becoming the Operations Director of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust.

It's been a great season for Vulcan fans, and for the team itself, after a series of displays at venues up and down the UK, and even abroad too, although a difficult winter lies ahead, as Vulcan XH558's 50th Birthday Appeal has just been launched, where £800,000 is needed by spring - £400,000 of it by Christmas this year.

Mike has kindly agreed to answer just a few questions, giving his highlights of the season, his views on a potential farewell appearance for Woodford, and just how long he believes the Vulcan can remain in the sky.

The first of the two part interview starts tomorrow here on The Vulcan Bomber blog!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Vulcan's 50th Birthday Appeal launched

Vulcan XH558 – Update, Friday 16th October 2009

Dear Supporter,

Today, at 2.00pm, we launch XH558’s 50th Birthday Appeal.

Through the money pledged by the public at the start of this year, we have proudly delivered on our commitment to bring XH558 back to the public this summer, in a hugely spectacular and wide-spread set of displays around the country.

In the meantime, we have made significant progress at reshaping our business plan so as to be far less dependent on one revenue stream. We have also looked at our costs for the coming year, based on the experience of the last twelve months and in the knowledge of what we need to do to keep XH558 flying into the future.

We now know that we need £2.4million to keep XH558 flying in displays for another year, and crucially to ensure that she can fly on for as many years as possible. We also have confidence where £1.6million of that amount is coming from over the year, leaving £800,000 to raise from public donations. Full details of how these costs and funding streams are built up are available on our Appeal website.

Now that we are entering the winter maintenance period, inevitably our cash reserves are dwindling rapidly. We need to generate immediate income over the next few weeks and months, to fund the Winter Service and critical modification work - work for which we have to pay up-front.

With an initial funding target of £400,000 by Christmas, and a further £400,000 after that, we hope to build a steady increase of regular standing orders, bringing further stability to our finances. These core tasks form the basis of our fresh appeal, with the vital goal of celebrating the Golden Anniversary of XH558’s first flight on 25th May 1960.

This time we are asking directly for donations, since we believe that we have proved that we make good on our commitments. Full details of the 50th Birthday Appeal and our 2010 budgets have been laid out within a dedicated Appeal site that will be clearly visible and active from 2pm. Forecast Income and Expenditure Charts are included, with historical data from this year, together with an extensive Question and Answer section.

Next week, we will start to mail out details to over 35,000 Members and Friends who have helped us in the past. We will include an Appeal Poster that we hope you will be able to place in a prominent place.

Our primary goal is to take our story out to the wider world and new audiences, who will be key to securing the many, many small donations we need.

There will be a widespread publicity campaign and other initiatives aimed at taking the project out to the wider public and corporate bodies. If you have not seen our Sponsorship Video, it is available here:

Over 2.5million people were thrilled by XH558 this summer, but only a fraction of those have helped keep her flying. We – you and the VTST team – need to bring many, many more people on board!

We will continue to provide regular updates throughout this new 50th Birthday Appeal Campaign, and hope you will find the time to fully explore all the aspects built into our future funding proposals. In turn, your support of the Appeal will be central to our success!

On behalf of all those who appreciate what XH558 is and what she stands for, many thanks for your continued support.

Robert Pleming
VTST Chief Executive

Friday, 9 October 2009

Dr Robert Pleming's latest update

The latest update has been released from Robert Pleming:

Following what we expect to be XH558’s last sortie of 2009, we have been working hard to bottom out all the activities we need to carry out over the next few months, and crucially their costs, preparatory to explaining our plans for the next year to you all.

Very important decisions are being made concerning aircraft flying life management, with the objective of ensuring that we meet our commitments to fly the aircraft for as long as possible into the foreseeable future.

We have decided to bring forward work that we had intended to carry out during Winter 2010-11, and that of course brings forward the associated costs.

One of the big disappointments arising from our history of continually having to struggle for funds is that we are not given the usual commercial terms by our major suppliers: we have to pay for most technical, engineering and support costs at the start of the related activity, rather than at the end. Whilst providing comfort to our suppliers, this creates real timescale pressure on fund-raising, since we obviously then have to raise substantially all of the funds needed before the work can start.

Given our proven success at raising funds over time, what we could do with right now is a £500,000 line-of-credit or overdraft, but sadly, for us as a charity, this sort of facility is apparently not available from traditional banking sources.

As the result, we are now nearly ready to launch XH558’s 50th Birthday Appeal.

We are currently finalising the detailed explanation of our plans and the 50th Birthday Appeal that will be available from our web site, whilst also being sent out to all those for whom we have address information.

There will be an explanation of our situation, detailed income and expenditure analysis, whilst on the web site - a comprehensive set of Questions & Answers and regular updates of the Appeal progress, both by performance graphs and by weekly updates. If there are any queries, there will also be a facility to contact us and have those matters resolved.

Our official launch date is currently Friday 16th October. Once you have received this information, we hope you will understand the rationale behind our proposals and the 50th Birthday Appeal.

We estimate that only about 50,000 people have actually helped sustain XH558 over the past year, compared with over 2.5million who have enjoyed the sight and sound of her flying. We need your help to convert the remaining 2,450,000 from passive spectators to active supporters!

With best wishes,

Robert Pleming
Chief Executive VTS Trust

Monday, 5 October 2009

Vulcan's Bid for Sponsorship

The Vulcan to the Sky team have released the video that they will hope will bring in some much needed sponsorship in the future, and in particular, next year, so that the Vulcan XH558 can fly in it's 50th year.

If it were to fail on that account, it would be a crying shame, as the look and sound of the Vulcan bomber is second to none, and certainly deserves to celebrate its 50th in style.

Please send this video link on to anyone you know who may be in a position to sponsor the Vulcan next year, it's fair to say that it's life depends on it.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Dr Robert Pleming's latest update

The man behind the success in getting Vulcan XH558 back in to the skies of the UK and beyond has released his latest statement to members of the Vulcan to the Sky Club:

What a fantastic, spectacular summer XH558 has given us!

Last weekend saw the completion of a comprehensive and hugely successful season. Following an overflight of her birthplace at Woodford Aerodrome, XH558 flew an approach and overshoot at Manchester International Airport, before completing her last display of 2009 at Southport. If any further proof of the Vulcan Effect is needed, the official figures of the Southport audience were 32,000 on the Saturday – when XH558 did not display – compared to 70,000 on the Sunday when she did!

I’m sure you will all join me in sincerely thanking all those who have risen to the challenge of the last few months to ensure we have gained maximum exposure to the public, including our hard-working engineering and logistics team, the embedded Marshall Aerospace technicians, our air crew and of course, the numerous and totally dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers from the Vulcan to the Sky Club.
Special thanks must also go to all those who have contributed anything from a few pence upwards towards the on-going battle to finance this project.
Our audiences and the entirely positive feedback seen at shows, and exemplified in the Guest Book comments, are at the very heart of our new plans to build income streams that will see XH558 through another year of flying. My next update will be to announce the plans in some detail that we have put in place to raise the necessary finance for another year and then onwards into the future.
Central to our immediate funding will be recognition that May 2010 is the 50th anniversary of XH558’s first test flight following her roll-out from the manufacturing sheds at Woodford. Our 50th Birthday Appeal will be targeted at making sure we can cover the costs of the servicing and modifications that are needed over this winter period, to deliver us an airworthy XH558 in May. In short, we going after money for XH558’s BIG BIRTHDAY BASH!!!
This Appeal will include postal and electronic campaigns, dedicated pages on our web site and will be backed up by advertising features in newspapers and magazines. We have already touched over 2.5million people at the events we have visited in 2009. Only another 57.5 million to go! The more widespread we can make our story, the easier our task will be.
Meantime, let’s draw a little breath and thank one another for each playing our own vital part in this very exciting project. I hope the sight and sound of XH558 in the sky has made it all worthwhile for you this year.
We can, we should, we must do it all again.
With best wishes,
Robert Pleming
Chief Executive VTS Trust

So, with that, let's hope we can all celebrate the Vulcan's 50th birthday next year in style!!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Vulcan at Southport Airshow 2009

Another great video lined up here for the Vulcan Display at Southport Airshow on Sunday, which was the final airshow of the year that the Delta Lady would be appearing at.

It was another great viewing of the Vulcan, and one complete with the Vulcan howl at the end of the display, plus it was a much longer display that the 2008 show, which was always going to be a good thing for the fans!

Thanks to 06Paull on Youtube who shot a great video from the front at Southport, and for mobile phone footage, this is extremely good, and gets a good sound from the Vulcan, music, and commentator too.

Enjoy the video!