Friday, 20 November 2009

Vulcan plan reshaped to include Pledges

Here's the latest update from Robert Pleming, as we look to get the Vulcan to her 50th Birthday...

50th Birthday Appeal - Update Friday 20th November.

50th Birthday Appeal - Pledge Your Donation

Since XH558’s 50th Birthday Appeal was launched just over a month ago, we have gratefully received just over £30,000 from just under 1,000 donors, against our target of £400,000 by Christmas.
This is after mailing out Appeal leaflets to 35,000 people, and featuring the Appeal strongly on our website and through targeted emails.

We have also asked for feedback from our supporters, and have been listening carefully to what they are saying. First, there is an overwhelmingly positive message that we should all try as hard as we can to keep XH558 flying. About 20% of our supporters have still not received their Appeal leaflets, because of the recent postal strikes. (If you want an Appeal leaflet, please call 0116 247 8145.)
But we also understand that, unfortunately, we appear to have overestimated the level of confidence our supporters have at the moment, and in the approach to Christmas of course, the state of their finances!
This has manifested itself in our supporters being unwilling to donate. The perception that any donation may be swallowed up by an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to keep XH558 flying is deterring the uncertain.

We acknowledge this issue, and as the result, we are changing the Appeal from purely a Cash appeal, to be for Pledges as well, similar to the incredibly successful Pledge Campaign appeal at the beginning of the year.
By asking for pledges which will only need to be honoured when we reach our funding targets, we are providing a much higher level of assurance that your money will achieve the goal for which it is being donated – XH558 in the air next year.
We also recognise that, with Christmas soon upon us, people may not be in a position to make a donation until January or February.

The reshaped 50th Birthday Pledge Appeal has four phases, the first aiming to raise £200,000 in donations and pledges in December, followed by monthly phases aiming to raise the same amount again in pledges and donations in January, February and March, resulting in us reaching our £800,000 target by Easter.
This phased approach will allow us to commence the Winter engineering programme in time for a successful return to displays next season.
However, I can’t stress strongly enough the need to reach these monthly targets to ensure that XH558 is flying again by May – the month of XH558’s first test flight, 50 years ago.

The downside of not making these targets is huge, because the nature of our venture does not permit fractional success – we are either successful or we fail completely.

If you wish to make a pledge, you can do so via the website, just click on this link:

The current running total of pledges is available here:

However, you can also make a pledge by returning the Appeal leaflet, filled in with your contacts details, the amount you wish to pledge, and the word “Pledge” and the month in which your pledge will be honoured alongside your name.

Our Appeal Results Page will shortly be active so you can monitor progress.

Once we have reached our monthly funding targets, we will ask those who have made pledges to honour them, allowing us to commit the necessary work.
I must also stress that it remains very important that we continue to receive immediate Donations from those who are in a position to give us cash now, since any delay in starting the engineering work not only eats into our funds because of our monthly overheads, but also threatens the start of the 50th Birthday season .
We hope that by acting swiftly and surely in response to the feedback we have been given, we now have the shape of Appeal that everyone can buy in to.
We have done it before, we can, and must, do it again!
Kind regards
Robert Pleming
Chief Executive

So, the plan is to pledging & donating - we need to see that money rolling in between now & Christmas, that's only 34 days away by the way!!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Vulcan Needs Your Support!

Disaster is on the cards for the Vulcan Project, unless £400,000 is found prior to Christmas, and with Robert Pleming's latest update confirming that only £30,000 has been raised since the 50th Birthday appeal was launched, which hasn't been helped with the postal strikes in the UK, it could spell the end of the great sight of the Vulcan flying through the skies, with that fantastic howl that we have got so accustomed to.

So, I urge anyone reading this blog, to donate to the cause to try to keep it in the air, otherwise the sound that you'll hear from the video below, could be lost forever:

The Vulcan to the Sky Team have put out a detailed newsletter this week, and all of it is listed below, but your support is desperately needed:

Appeal Funding Crisis - Urgent

Our 50th Birthday Appeal to our loyal supporters and the millions who saw us fly this summer was for cash for two key reasons:

· To bolster our depleted reserves, now down to critical levels, to cover daily costs such as rent, wages, insurance;

· To commission and begin work on the Winter Service and life extension modifications to ensure we can deliver the 2010 Birthday Season.

From the small size of the mailbags arriving at Bruntingthorpe, it appears that XH558’s 50th Birthday Appeal has been badly affected by the various postal delays – we are significantly behind where we need to be to reach our £400,000 target by Christmas.

So far, we have received less than £30,000 in donations from 800 donors, from a mailing that went out to 35,000 people. This is a far lower response rate than ever previously experienced.

The total so far amounts to less than 10% of what we need before Christmas! Not only will we not be able to begin the time-critical engineering work, we are looking at the serious prospect of having to shut down the operation. This is now a serious and imminent threat.

With the major proportion of our known and planned funding of £1.6million coming in during the air show season, we have to rely on the Appeal to survive through the winter months

With the desperately slow progress we are currently making, we are finding it more and more difficult to cover our monthly base costs, let alone commit to the work that we need to have done to make it to the 2009 season.

I have to admit that I am now much more nervous about XH558’s future; it seems that unless we can mobilise significantly more support, the day of reckoning may not be far away.

This would be devastating to all those who have fought long and hard over the years to realise the dream. Our goal is so small in comparison to other funding needs, so we must try every avenue in which to succeed.

Our strategy remains to reach out to all those who saw XH558 last year, especially the huge numbers – 1.5 million – that attended the “free” airshows, and ask for their help in supporting XH558, whilst also trying to attract fresh support from others yet to be touched by “The Vulcan Effect”!

We need your help with this effort – which is why we have chosen to call the 50th Birthday Appeal a “staged appeal”.

We need you to act as the secondary stage of our campaign! We have released the primary – the 50th Birthday Appeal itself. We now need you to multiply the effectiveness of the Appeal many-fold in a chain-reaction, by taking the Appeal out to everywhere and anywhere.

Contact your local newspapers and radio stations, put up the posters, post on your blogs, email your friends and colleagues, link back to us from Websites you run – all will be valuable in taking out our message.

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments, if you run into problems or have new ideas, or if you need posters and leaflets: give the office a call on 0116 247 8145.

We continue to work on leads and contacts in the hope of getting some widespread National coverage soon that will make the difference – it is hoped we can achieve this before it is too late.

My wife Suzanne and I were in London last Sunday for the Remembrance Day commemorations at the Cenotaph. It was a truly emotional experience, and a huge reminder of how much we all owe those who have served, and are serving, in our Armed Services.

It was also a strong reminder of XH558’s role in “Honouring the Past”, in particular those thousands of service personnel who supported the RAF’s “V-Force” in its strategic deterrent capacity in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In John Milton’s words, “they also serve who only stand and wait”: never more true than in the case of the V-Force personnel who were on standby for so many years. We must keep XH558 flying to ensure that this message is not forgotten.

Winter Engineering Plan: Aircraft Life Extension Update 2 of 4 - 13th November 2009

Following recent planning work for the Winter Engineering programme, I thought that you would appreciate a glimpse of some of what is going to happen, and the timescale constraints that result.

Probably the most significant project is the embodiment of the wing fatigue life extension modification on the bottom of the front spar on each wing.

The Avro Vulcan is a “safe life” aircraft, where the airframe strength has been verified on a fatigue life specimen airframe, which in the case of the Vulcan went through 41,000 cycles – simulated flights – in the 1960s.

As the result of the fatigue test, the Vulcan was granted an ultimate life of 320 fatigue index units. However during the test, various weaknesses and defects were discovered over time that resulted in repairs – these repairs turned into fatigue life extension modifications for the Vulcan fleet.

A good example is the strengthening added to the rear spar during the restoration to flight in 2007 – Modification 2222.

We have always known that further fatigue life extension modifications will be required to ensure that XH558 can continue flying. However the next stages of life extension have to be added earlier than we had expected.

Whilst XH558 enjoyed an extremely successful summer season, we have consumed rather more fatigue life than planned, owing to the bumpy conditions experienced in transit at low level. (We are currently not permitted to transit through cloud to smooth air above.) We have now used up about 250 fatigue units, against a current clear limit of 252 units, giving us only 10-20 flying hours until the next modifications are due, including the strengthening of the bottom of the front spar.

We have therefore decided to bring these modifications forward from Winter 2010-11 to this winter.

A further important complication arises due to the fact that XH558 is now the “fleet leader” – no other Vulcan has flown for as many hours, or consumed as much fatigue life. The practical consequence of this is that the front spar strengthening modification, whilst embodied on the fatigue test specimen, was never added to a Vulcan from the RAF’s fleet.

The modification is simple in principle: the replacement of the set of plates at the front of the undercarriage bay, by a larger set of plates. Pictures will be on our web site soon showing examples of this type of work.

To achieve this, a set of drawings needs to be produced from the available data, and a process for removing the existing plates and adding the new ones must be created. This all takes time, and must be scheduled in to the already extremely busy design office at Marshal Aerospace. After that, the materials and fasteners have to be ordered – do we have a lead time problem? – and finally the modification added to XH558.

The uncertainties on timescale mean that if we are to deliver a full display season in 2010, we need to commit the design activity now, and that means paying over £100,000 up front.

If we don’t proceed now, it becomes more and more likely that we would be limited to the 10-20 flying hours currently available, which would give us precious few hours in front of the public after test, currency and display authorisation flights.

There are other, easier engineering activities which we must carry out this winter, but their additional costs all go towards the target that the 50th Birthday Appeal is planned to achieve.

We know we can fly XH558 safely on for quite some time, but as we enter unexplored territory, we have to do things properly, and there are costs that result.

This is why were urgently need your help with the 50th Birthday Appeal; the implications of not making our funding target of £400,000 by Christmas are very worrying.


50th Birthday Appeal – Feedback Request
So far, we have received less than £30,000 in donations from 800 donors, from a mailing that went out to 35,000 people.

At this stage in our financial year, our reliance on public donation support is far greater than in the spring, summer and autumn when we are flying, so it is vital to XH558’s future that we are successful with the 50th Birthday Appeal.
We need your feedback now to understand how the Appeal is going.
Please could you send an email to
We need to know:
· Have you received the 50th Birthday Appeal leaflet and poster etc?

· Have you, or will you, make a donation or standing order commitment?

· If you have decided not to make a donation, please could you indicate why?

· Do you have any ideas on what we should be doing better?

This email is going to about 5,000 people; please would you respond, since we need to know how we can improve.


If we need any reminder of what has been achieved with this globally unique restoration project, please watch this short trailer.

See the reaction of the youngsters in the closing sequence.
You can make the difference by visiting our Appeal pages here:

Thank you.

Robert Pleming (Chief Executive).

As mentioned, a very detailed newsletter this week, and understandably, so donate now, and help keep this magnificent flying machine in the air!

Monday, 9 November 2009

A Blast from Woodford's Past!

Well it's been a while since the last video was posted on here, and whilst the Vulcan starts to be worked on for its Winter service - and the fighting fund continues, so please donate using the link on the right - it's time to put another classic Vulcan video on the Blog!

This one comes courtesy of the YouTube channel belonging to 1tothirtysix, who has another cracker for historic aircraft fans, with a Vickers Vanguard arrival clip so check out their channel!

Anyway, to the Vulcan video, a cracker of a howl to begin with, and check out the steep climb from take off, you'd swear that it's not moving at one point, and just floating in the air!

This was filmed at Woodford Airshow in 1991, ahhh, remember rainy Woodford?

Well this wasn't one of those wet days!!