Monday, 27 December 2010

Seasons Greetings to all Vulcan fans!

First of all let me say a very Merry Christmas to all followers and visitors of The Vulcan Bomber blog, and as 2010 draws to a close, it's worth remembering what a fantastic year this has been.

The Vulcan was of course in danger of becoming a museum piece in 2010, with major funding campaigns saving the day, proving just how Great the British public, and also for those overseas who contributed towards keeping our delightful Delta Lady in the air.

We wouldn't be talking about the great appearances at this year's displays if it wasn't for everyone digging deep, and of course in October we came close to losing her but for a £400,000 target that was hit as November approached.

Since the last blog, the hangar tours have re-opened, and the Vulcan shop is a great place to get some goodies from, so for those who have received the odd tenner in their Christmas cards, how about picking something from the shop and helping the funds swell even more as we look at the horizon to see the 2011 season approaching.

The Vulcan Facebook page is also up and running, with a new page for all to visit, so click on the link and pay a visit and 'Like' the page to see all the latest updates.

This blog will become much more active in the new year, as we get excited for the new airshow season, but for now, best wishes from the Vulcan Bomber blog - become a follower, and get it in your favourites!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Target Hit - The Vulcan Lives On!

There was great news for all fans of the Vulcan bomber last night as it was confirmed that the October appeal to keep the project going was a complete success and the target was met!

That now means that all employees who had previously been on a month’s notice can now continue in their role, and work on the Vulcan in preparation for the 2011 season, in which we hope to see another successful season. I’m sure that the work will be ongoing throughout those chilly winter months, as we look towards next Spring and the start of the Airshow season.

It’s certainly a time to celebrate though, as £400,000 was a massive amount of money to be raised in such a short space of time, and okay, maybe not as much as the £1m that had to be raised earlier on in a public campaign, but this was a real test, as this time there was no miracle donation from one person, this was a culmination of donations from all over the world from Vulcan fans everywhere, who just wanted to ensure that the aircraft was not lost to someone overseas, or permanently grounded.

So, it’s time to get those withdrawal symptoms treated by viewing endless clips of the wonder that is XH558, on You Tube, and wherever else the videos are stored, and listen to the famous howl, and look forward to the next time we can all point up to the sky in the distance, and say “there she is” as the delta shaped “Spirit of Great Britain” gets ever closer to the display circuit.

Well done to everyone who has helped keep the spirit alive!

Here's a case of timing for you as the latest statement was uploaded to the Vulcan site:


£400,000 October Appeal success heralds new funding initiatives.

First, I’m delighted to confirm to all XH558’s supporters that the target of £400,000 for our October Appeal was reached just in time over the weekend.

What is most significant is the sheer numbers of people who donated – many thousands – the welcome result of active promotion by our core team of supporters and valuable coverage of the Appeal by the media. The fact that the Appeal has been such a success despite the current economic conditions once again proves without doubt the magnitude of the public’s affection and support for XH558.

Earlier this year, the Trust embarked on a series of new fund-raising initiatives. With XH558’s Winter Service planned to start in January, the team now has the time to convert these initiatives into sustainable revenue streams. You can learn more about some of our initiatives here:

I’m pleased to be able to report that one of the initiatives, Merchandising, is already bringing in over £10,000 per month. Soon, we will be distributing the catalogue of new merchandise for Christmas, along with the details on new ways that people can help XH558.

In another initiative, we aim to bring those who have loyally supported XH558 in the past into more regular contact with the Trust and its plans for XH558, encouraging small but regular contributions.

Our objective is of course, to guarantee that XH558 flies on next year and through the Diamond Jubilee year. This will continue to drive our efforts over the next three months to ensure that we meet our future funding needs.

In the meantime, I hope that you will join with me in thanking everyone who has made the October Appeal such an outstanding success and I very much hope that you will see your Vulcan flying next year!

With kind regards,

John Sharman

Chairman of Trustees, Vulcan to the Sky Trust


Once again...hurrah!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Nearly there!

The battle to save the Vulcan is ongoing, and a couple of weeks ago I blogged about how the project needed £400,000 to keep the Delta Lady in the skies, with the other option being permanent grounding of the aircraft or even the possibility of it being sold to an overseas investor where we would lose the Vulcan from the UK skies.

Amazingly, despite the Vulcan staff being put on a month's notice, over £325,000 has been received as of this morning, meaning that just under £75,000 is needed in the space of 3 days to hit the target, so £25k a day is required.

If you haven't donated yet, then please do so via the link at the top right and bottom of this blog, and you can do your bit to keep the famous howl going!

The intention is to see the Vulcan thrill many hundreds of thousands at airshows next year, and on to 2012, and even though the display may not be what we used to see in the 80's, there is no doubt that the airshow scene will lose one of its biggest names for good if that target cannot be met.

Let's keep the howl going, donate today, and hopefully we can celebrate the extended life of the one and only, Vulcan bomber.

0845 5046 558

Save the Vulcan today

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Time to Save the Vulcan!

Well it’s been a while since I blogged about the Vulcan – mainly due to other things going on in my life, but feel it’s now time to update as the situation is now critical, and the Vulcan project is only a matter of two weeks away from closure.

To see the Delta Lady finish her tour of the skies forever in the UK would be a sad, sad day, however unless £400,000 is found by the end of the month, this will be the final swansong for the aircraft.

XH558 has of course delighted millions of people in its 50 year history with the amazing sound and vision of its display – whilst it may be true that it’s a toned down version of the display that we’re all seeing, the simple fact is any display is better than no display.

2010 has seen a variety of airshows attended, and the attendance record in 2009 was second to none, an outstanding record for an aircraft of its age.

From a personal point of view, I’ll be devastated when there is no more Vulcan raging through the skies, as we’ll never see the like again – what a sight, what a sound.

There have been appeals before, and they have successfully reached their targets, mainly due to large benefactors stepping in at the last minute, but will it happen this time? Possibly not.

That would be the end of the road, with the project coming to an abrupt end. The workforce have already been placed on a month’s notice, and will know that the failure to raise the amount required will mean their association with the Vulcan comes to an end also.

We cannot let the Vulcan end here; there is a plan for the aircraft to take part in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 2012 which would be a fantastic sight to behold for the nation.

So, now is the time to step it up and throw a coin or two, or more if it can be spared, and help keep the Vulcan phenomenon alive and kicking.

Donate today by visiting the official Vulcan to the Sky website by clicking the following link or the logo at the top right of this page.

Save the Vulcan!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Successful weekend for XH558

So, in the end, the Vulcan made it to Waddington on both days, and performed a great display for all those who witnessed it, and what a great end to the display with the pull up and of course...the roar!

It was a welcome sight to see her back in the air again, and after waddo visitors missed out last year, there was no way a repeat was going to happen, although having said that the weather almost put pay to the plan on Sunday with high winds blowing across Lincolnshire.

Those who went to the airshow went home happy that the Vulcan was well and truly back, and those at the Goodwood Festival got a great display too, and can be viewed via the following links:

Waddington Display

Waddington Display 2

Attentions now turn to RNAS Yeovilton, and those going on Saturday will be hoping that the weather doesn't dent the plans again following the miserable climate that put pay to a flying Vulcan appearance on the same Saturday one year ago.

The Delta Lady is already in the area though having landed there today, so the engineers and crew will now be based there for the next few days at least to see her through safely to the end of the display.

The fact that she's now at Yeovilton gives us another excuse to wheel this one out again...

The great news for Air Tattoo fans is that the Vulcan has today been added to the flying display at Fairford in just under a fortnight's time.

The Cotswolds are set to rumble once again, as the world's largest military airshow kicks off once again, with hundreds of thousands of visitors expected at the airshow, which attracts some of the best aircraft in the world with this year a highlight being the appearance of the F22 Raptor, which attended the only ever cancellation of the airshow in 2008, and denying many the chance to witness a star display.

So, then, eyes look forward to Saturday, but also keeping check on the Vulcan website to see if any extra dates will be added across the country in the next few months.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Vulcan gets lift off for Waddington!

The Vulcan will fly at RAF Waddington tomorrow and Sunday.

That has now been confirmed by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust on BBC Radio Lincolnshire, and the news will be fantastic to all those who have helped get the Vulcan back in the air, and also to the many supporters of the aircraft.

It’s also a bonus for those attending Waddington, as last year there were problems surrounding the permit to fly which ran out the day before the air display, meaning it couldn’t fly at the airshow itself, so today’s news will be greeted with smiles across the country, and now it can focus on the display season ahead, and go in search of that elusive sponsor!

The air display programme for the weekend will now have to be rejigged to include the star performer, and I’m sure everyone will see that as a nice problem to have!

Vulcan set to fly at Waddington

The good news has kept on coming today as the chances of the Vulcan appearing at Waddington this weekend are increasing by the minute, and fans are hoping that a positive announcement will be made in just over half an hour confirming that XH558 will fly at the Lincolnshire airshow.

All tests carried out during yesterday's flight have gone okay, and the paperwork has now been submitted, and it seems that we are set for a positive outcome.

It's certainly provoked a great deal of excitement amongst the supporters of the Vulcan, many of whom have followed the test flight and anticipated breaking news whilst at work, ensuring productivity levels were hit somewhat, well at least today is Friday!!

The news is expected to confirm that the Vulcan will fly from Brize Norton tomorrow, on to Waddington, then back to Brize, whilst on Sunday, it's off from Brize onto Waddington, then down to Goodwood before returning to RAF Lyneham, where she has spent plenty of time in the hangar since late last year, and will no doubt be desperate to stay out in the blue skies instead for the next few months!

Let's all keep our fingers crossed for some good news then!

Everyone deserves it!

Up, Up and Away!

It was another emotional day yesterday, as the Vulcan bomber returned to the skies for the first time in 2010, and went off for a test flight from RAF Lyneham, to return to Brize Norton - her former home.

It wasn't a quick flight though, in fact it was almost 2 hours long as Martin Withers flew the aircraft out over yeovilton, where hopefully it will appear in the airshow later this month.

The flight itself was to gain the "Permit to Fly" and hopefully enable the Vulcan to take part at Waddington, and now it's a case of clearing paperwork, and hopefully gaining the clearance to make it over to Waddo, which by the sounds of it will be a case of flying in on Saturday and displaying, with a further display on Sunday.

If the clearance is given, it will be great credit to the engineering teams to have made it possible when it seemed unlikely in June that this would happen.

So, another busy day at Vulcan HQ today then, with every stop being pulled out in a bid to make the Vulcan's first airshow appearance of the year over Lincolnshire tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Deadline approaches for Waddington display

All efforts are clearly being made now to bring Vulcan XH558 to the air once again, and get the delightful bomber over to the Waddington Airshow this weekend, but it remains a very tight schedule.

The Vulcan to the Sky site confirms that a huge push to achieve the Lincolnshire visit is currently ongoing, and with engine tests on the ground having been carried out, the action now turns to the skies, in the hope that the Delta Lady will be filling them for the first time since last year when it was widely believed that could have been the last the public would have seen her.

Nobody is prepared to give in on the task of delivering her to airshows this Summer, and full credit must be given to the various enginerring teams who are doing all that is required to keep every supporter's dream of seeing her again in 2010 intact.

It is hoped that a test flight will take place either today or tomorrow as the weekend approaches, and I'm sure everyone would be delighted to see some successful results - especially considering there have been many doubters who thought that the Vulcan would appear in the skies again.

We are all hopeful this can be achieved of course, and now, let's hope for some action in the summer skies around RAF Lyneham today!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Return to flight gets closer

Well it's been a while since I posted on here, due to my involvement with setting up Chester FC, but here we go again, and what a week to come back to it all!

Most Vulcan fans are anticipating a decision from Vulcan HQ as to whether or not XH558 will be appearing at RAF Waddington's Airshow which takes place this weekend in Lincolnshire.

The on / off situation has of course been dictated by the original appeal for £800,000 which looked to be failing until a one-off donation came in for almost £500,000 which secured the project's future, and everything looked to be back on track again.

The fact of the matter of course was that plenty of work was needed to be carried out, and just like the scenario with a car service, in that you wouldn't put it through a service if you couldn't pay for it, it meant that the timeline had been pushed further out and the first half of the 2010 airshow season would be missed, with the target for return being at Waddington on July 3rd.

This week is a key week, as a test flight needs to be completed in time for the Vulcan to stand any chance of making Waddo on Saturday / Sunday. In fact the airshow organisers have done the right thing and never confirmed 558's appearance, that way they can't let anyone down like last year's scenario where the flying permit could not be obtained in time despite arriving at Waddington just two days before the airshow.

So, hopefully we'll see a return to the sky today or tomorrow at RAF Lyneham, where she is currently based, and then hopefully an appearance at the air display on Saturday.

Further airshows will be targeted at Yeovilton, and of course the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford on July 17th - hopefully by then we'll have the first Vulcan display under the belt, and we can all enjoy the sight and sound of the famous Avro aircraft.

Here's to a successful week!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Happy Birthday XH558!!!

Well the day has finally arrived, and the Vulcan has made it to 50 years old, and all we need now is the flying display for it's 50th year, hopefully that will be available in the next week or so.

Anyway, Robert Pleming has issued the latest newsletter regarding the birthday milestone:

Congratulations to XH558 on reaching her 50th Birthday!

Today, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of XH558's first ever test flight on 25th May 1960 – her 50th Birthday - by launching her 50th Anniversary Season.

We will be celebrating XH558’s five decades, during five months, with at least eight key events. Our main Appeal pages now carry the FIVE FIVE EIGHT banner announcing this aim.

As a start to the celebrations, XH558 will now bear the inscription “The Spirit of Great Britain”, to reflect all that she stands for. I hope you will agree with me that this is a fitting tribute to a famous aircraft.

Also today, we will be choosing the winners in XH558’s Birthday Prize Draw, and also unveiling a GIANT Birthday Card that will be taken around the Air Show circuit, to allow all of XH558’s supporters to sign it.

As XH558 is still on an active RAF base at Lyneham, our options for public access have been severely limited, but please do look out for an update tomorrow, when we will give you a report and pictures from the day.

Later this week, we will also unveil some of the plans we have to carry on the 50th Birthday Season celebrations next month. We have some simply stunning activities planned, which I am sure you will enjoy taking part in.

Please make sure you and everyone you can contact are subscribed to our Newsletter service, in order to hear developments just as soon as possible.

We look forward to an exciting 2010 Display Season.

Kind Regards,

Robert Pleming

Vulcan To The Sky Trust.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Latest Update from Robert Pleming

Following the great news recently that the Vulcan had been saved, work has now begun to try to ensure that the Delta Lady is ready to thunder through the skies from June, as the annual service is now underway.

The fund that was recently given a £458,000 from one person, has now passed £900,000 and plans are now underway also to ensure that funds for the 2011 season are brought in well ahead of time, and quite rightly so, we don't want to go through all this worry again!

Anyway, time for Robert Pleming's latest update:

Following on from the fantastic news of two weeks ago with the achievement of our Survival Appeal target, our immediate priority has been to start the work required to return XH558 to the 2010 air display season as soon as possible.

This has involved formalising the contracts, and in most cases making full payments, for all of the third-party engineering activities, such as the base maintenance support programme (with Marshall Aerospace), component overhaul and remanufacture. The initial on-aircraft activities have been to remove components for return to their Original Equipment Manufacturers. Examples of these are the fatigue meters for bay servicing by Meggitt, and the ejection seats for their annual inspection by SES. The engineers will then focus on the first stages of the “Minor” service: the inspection of the airframe, engines and systems, and determining whether any rectification is needed. In addition to the “Minor” service, four additional engineers will join the team to install the two airframe modifications (Mods 2429 and 2430) needed to extend XH558’s airframe life for the coming years.

As the project plan stands at the moment, we are forecasting finishing in early June, but as ever, dates are dependent on what happens as we proceed with the work. We will keep you updated.

I must at this point pay sincere tribute on behalf of XH558 and the VTST team to all those supporters of XH558 who have donated or made a Pledge in the past four months. The generous support of a few thousand people will enable millions to enjoy XH558’s display this summer – a numerical inequality that I’m sure has not escaped you.

This time last year, because we were so focused on achieving a successful first full season, we took our eyes off the ball of ensuring that our financial future was secure. Now that we know have learnt the valuable lessons of 2009, Michael Trotter and I have agreed with VTST’s Board of Trustees that we need a sustainable financial plan in place by the Autumn. This is a vital objective.

From an administration perspective, we will shortly be calling in the Pledges made over the last few months.

We have created the mailing database and have provided the letter template to our mailing house. These letters will now be produced and despatched in the latter part of next week to all those loyal supporters who have made a Pledge. Please could I ask you to await the arrival of your letter, which will contain important instructions about how to honour your pledge. This is so that we can accurately record your contribution, and avoid following up Pledges that have already been honoured.

On the promotion and marketing front in the short term, we have been reshaping our plans for taking our project out to the wider world. We have a number of new initiatives that will be revealed as we approach the return of XH558 to flight.

We recognise that working with you, our loyal supporters, remains a very effective way of keeping XH558’s profile high, which is a pre-requisite for continued fund-raising from the public at large. The ongoing and invaluable support from the Vulcan to the Sky Club, remains pivotal to this effort.

From an Operations perspective, we have undertaken a full review of all aspects of the 2009 season. Last year, the Trust’s marginal costs of operating XH558 at air displays exceeded the money raised at airshows by over £130,000. This year we need to do much better, and have the goal of breaking even over the season. With air show organisers, we are seeking local sponsors to supplement the usual airshow appearance fees, to increase our airshow revenues.

We are still in the early stages of planning this 2010 air display season, but if we can’t see additional sources of operational revenues from the flying we do, we will be looking to cut our operating costs, by for example make fewer long (and expensive) transits. A provisional flying programme will be published in late May, based on discussions with organisers and the developing picture from the aircraft servicing.

Above all, with experience of running XH558 as a “single aircraft airline” for well over a year behind us, we are more confident for a viable future, based on our growing commercial activities and the finance streams we are building. The launch of our Annual Appeal for 2011, and other special events planned around XH558’s 50th Anniversary on 25th May, will be central to continuing this drive. In the medium term, the target of flying down the Mall on 4th June 2012, in celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, remains firmly in our sights.

We will of course continue with these regular updates for you, giving the very latest news on developments.

Looking back over the past couple of months to another discomforting experience on the roller-coaster that is keeping XH558 flying, it’s clear that we all, XH558 included, owe so much to one another. We must continue to do the best for what is quite a remarkable British project and unique achievement.

For being part of that, I thank you.

With kindest regards,

Robert Pleming

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Total nears £900,000 mark

A couple of weeks ago we received the great news that the Vulcan bomber had been saved, and understandably every fan of the Delta Lady was celebrating - and rightly so.

The attention now starts to shift to the Vulcan's pre-Airshow season servicing schedule, and yesterday there was confirmation that the annual service had indeed started on XH558.

This is of course great news, and with it being a tight schedule to get the Vulcan ready for the airshow season, every second is vitally important, especially when what must be achieved throughout this year is sponsorship for the 2011 season, and possibly beyond.

RAF Cosford was the first show to witness the Vulcan's loud groans last year, and that must be the target for this year too, but we only sit 3 months away from that date now, so all the stops must be pulled out to make sure that this happens, and also that the ill fated Permit To Fly is sorted out for 2010 after the catastrophe of the Waddington Airshow last year which saw the Vulcan grounded for the week surrounding the show.

That simply must not happen again.

There will be of course, test flights once again, with I believe the only thing being guaranteed is the Display Authority, which we believe was completed late last year to enable a further 12 months of flights to take place.

So, the excitement will start to build up once again, and we'll all look forward to it, but for now, one eye must be kept on the Donations & Pledges, remember that £800,000 was needed in real money, the total of donations is currently on £622,000 with a further £275,000 in pledges, so we must not take it for granted, as those pledges will need to be honoured, but it certainly looks a far better situation than what it did this time last month!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

The Vulcan is Saved!

Today is a great day to be a Vulcan fan!!!

At the beginning of the month, it was reported that the Vulcan to the Sky team had been put on a month's notice, with the project set for a heart breaking failure, as the total of £800,000 needed to fund the 2010 season, with £500,000 of that required by the end of February.

The call for pledges was stepped up, along with donations of course, and today, the combined fund stood at £415,000, but then the unthinkable happened - the donation to end all donations!

A massive donation of £458,000 was revealed by the Vulcan team, from a donatee who wishes to remain anonymous - and it's no surprise they don't want their names revealing as they would surely be receiving several thousand letters of thanks through their door & e-mail inboxes!!

The donation now means that the project is safe for at least another year - in this it's 50th brithday year, and celebrations can now start, although the pledges will still need to be realised to ensure the £800,000 target is met.

From there, the Vulcan project need to continue raising money, and this year's airshow scene will be the ideal opportunity to build for next year's requirements.

What it will do however, is lift the spirits of all involved, and will hopefully guarantee that at some point in 2010, the Vulcan Bomber will grace the skies of the UK again.

It's time for everyone who has donated or pledged to keep the Vulcan alive, to raise a glass to themselves tonight, as they have saved the whole future of the project - but to that one anonymous donation....


Friday, 5 February 2010

Vulcan Pledge fund now over £100,000

Last week, the Vulcan Survival Appeal was launched, with the target of £600,000 needed by the end of March, and £300,000 of that needed by the end of February.

Failure to reach this would undoubtedly see the Vulcan grounded forever, and the sound of the Delta Lady lost for good, which would be a sad end to the great story of the aircraft, which is celebrating it's 50th Birthday this year.

The public have been asked to play another key part in keeping the tin triangle up in the air, and have responded well already, with over £100,000 raised in pledges so far, and that is only in the first week, giving everyone hope that the project can be saved.

In fact the actual sum of pledges received so far is £109,775 and that means £190,000 is needed by the end of this month, to get to the first milestone, before the Vulcan team can continue working on the aircraft, and get it prepared for a potential, and vitally important airshow season ahead.

If you haven't pledged yet, then please do so, if you wanted to see just why we should keep this magical aircraft in the air then please view the videos listed on this blog, and you'll soon see why it's like no other, with an unbelievable sound, and shape in the air.

Believe me, if you haven't seen it in the flesh, it's a display that sets your stomach trembling, such is the power from those engines!

Please, pledge today here, and whilst you're there, sign the birthday card and help try and create a world record:

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Deadline set for XH558 Appeal

The bad news continues to filter through, and just now, Robert Pleming has sent through a Survival Appeal update which advises that the deadline of keeping the Vulcan in the air is February 28th, and all employees of Vulcan to the Sky Trust have been put on month's notice - is this the end?


XH558 Survival Appeal Update

Dear Supporter.

XH558: the deadline has been set – the end of February.
Sadness and grim determination are the main emotions today: the Trust’s funds are such that the decision has now been taken to place all its employees on one month’s notice, as of 1st February.
We have so much to fight for, but with less than one month to avoid shutdown, the pressure is now really on.
On the few occasions when we have been in a similar position before, all XH558’s most loyal supporters have rallied to the cause, and somehow she has been saved. We are not assuming that the same will happen this time, which is why we are enlisting so many more people to help.
In 1941, Sir Winston Churchill said: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” We are not giving in.
Mindful that we should not solicit donations whilst we are uncertain about XH558’s future, we are putting 100% of our efforts into the Survival Appeal Pledge Scheme.
We need to raise over £300,000 in new pledges by the end of February to justify a stay of execution, followed by a further £300,000 in March to reach our target of £800,000.

We are therefore launching a number of new activities to secure the immediate future:

· An attempt to set a WORLD RECORD for the number of signatures on a single birthday card for XH558.

· Re-design of the Appeal website to ensure visitors understand our urgent message, with a countdown timer to our deadline of 28th February..

· A sixty-second no-punches-pulled promotional VIDEO, spread via emails, with the goal of going “viral” with our message.

· A written notice and Pledge reply slip to all those on our databases.

· A SURVIVAL RAFFLE, launched by the Vulcan to the Sky Club, to create instant availability of working capital, once we are secured. (Prizes will be honoured by the Club if the worst happens).

· A PROMOTION PACK, distributed with the Club’s Winter magazine, to all club members.

· Targeted ADVERTISING in regional newspapers where affordable.

· Contact with national media and PR agencies to get XH558’s story in front of as many people as possible.

· And of course networking with all existing supporters, sponsors and industry leaders.

If we gather sufficient momentum over the next four weeks, we may well be able to start work on XH558 once again, but we will only do this if we are confident that the target will be met.

In the meantime, work continues at Marshall Aerospace on the detailed planning for the Winter Engineering Programme, whilst our own team are helping with the Appeal.

Assuming we are successful, with the new experienced gained over the past year, we will be building funds throughout the year in all ways possible to avoid the desperate measures we have had to take each winter to keep the dream alive.

Remember our ultimate goal: to be flying down the Mall on 4th June 2012 in celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s – and the Vulcan’s – Diamond Jubilee.

As we count down the days of February, all the thousands of our loyal supporters know full well what they will be missing if the worst comes to the worst for XH558. What is most galling, is that there are millions of people who really don’t know what they will have missed. But if they did, they could well decide to help save her.

XH558 is the “People’s Aircraft”. Can the people save her again?

Robert Pleming


Good Luck all, and please donate or pledge TODAY!!!

This is the last chance!!!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Future looking grim for the Vulcan

As the title of this particular blog suggests, it's not looking great for the Vulcan's 50th birthday season, with funds not coming through as hoped, meaning that the chances of seeing XH558 in the skies at airshows this season are reducing fast.

It is expected that Robert Pleming will have to recommend to the Board of Trustees that all VTST employees are given one month's notice from today, 1st February, due to the lack of funds available.

It's sad to read the latest press release below, and confirms that the sitiuation is indeed dire, but to think that we may have seen the last of the Vulcan Bomber in the air is heart breaking.

This has seen argumentative posts on various forums, with blame being aportioned to many different parties - but we all have one common desire - to see the Vulcan fly again.

Let's hope there is someone out there, someone who has money, that loves the Vulcan, someone who just cannot stand by and let the Delta Lady become a museum piece.


Robert Pleming's latest update...

Dear Supporter,
XH558’s Future Now at Risk.

I imagine that you were as pleased as I was to see the excellent coverage that XH558 and her 50th Birthday Appeal gained in the Mail on Sunday on 17th January. We all need to thank those responsible for making this happen: the supporters who wrote letters to the Mail on Sunday Editor, asking him to publicise our campaign. But the situation remains dire.

The Extent of the Problem
Having already funded Marshall Aerospace to commence the most urgent “critical path” tasks needed for the Winter Engineering Programme, we now have just sufficient funds in our bank account to pay our overhead costs from today until the end of February – slightly less than five weeks. As the result, at the end of this week, I may need to recommend to the Board of Trustees that we give one month’s notice to all VTST employees with effect from 1st February.

The implications for XH558 are extremely grave: if we don’t find the money to keep going and finish the engineering programme, we may well lose all control over her destiny. We have already launched the plea for funds in a national newspaper, unfortunately apparently to little effect. We have raised just over £180,000, but we still need a total of £800,000 to get XH558 to the 2010 display season.

Because of the amount of work needed to be done this Winter, and the lead time associated with some of the items, there is real urgency in raising the sum needed – a further £620,000. As is the nature of engineering work on aircraft, not only is it surprisingly expensive but it’s “all or nothing”, which is why we now should not proceed further until we have confidence of reaching the full amount.

Including the necessary test flight, the whole engineering programme should last no longer than four months. But the longer we have to wait before reaching our £800,000 target, the more we delay XH558’s appearance her 50th Birthday air display season, and the more funds we would have used on unproductive overheads.

For XH558, the only way is forward through to completion of the whole engineering programme.

If there’s one positive thing we can say, it is that, barring mishaps, this is by far the most expensive Winter Service that XH558 will have to undergo for the foreseeable future. It will put in place the fatigue life extension modifications necessary for the remainder of her flying life.

Action Plan

So where to from here?

First, and most important, we are not giving up. We have to turn XH558’s 50th Birthday Appeal into nothing less than her 2010 Survival Appeal.

Recognising that supporters do not want to risk any of their donations not achieving tangible success, we are re-launching and re-driving our Pledge scheme.

Shortly, our website pages will change to reflect the new Appeal. We will be launching a Vulcan viral video, containing an attempt at a new world record, which we hope, with your help, will capture the attention of many.

The nature of the tasks and lead times of the Winter Engineering Programme means that it may be possible to move forward having raised only part of the funds, as long as there is confidence that the remaining funds will be forthcoming.

So when new pledges reach the half-way point of £310,000 (a total raised of £490,000), we will review the progress of the Appeal. If we are confident the whole amount will be raised, we will call in the pledges to date to allow work on XH558 to continue.

To set a deadline, we need to see £310,000 in new pledges by the end of February at the latest, if we are not to miss the main airshows this summer

As part of this new Campaign, I would like to offer an incentive: those who honour a pledge of £1,000 or more will receive an invitation for a personal visit to XH558 at RAF Lyneham during the Winter Service, to see her close-up and talk to the engineers who are working on her.

Please now would you help XH558 by making a Pledge if you can, but just as importantly, by spreading the word about this revised and renewed Pledge Campaign?

We will continue to publicise XH558’s current plight and your help in doing this is so very valuable. So far we have not been successful in gaining the attention of very many of the 2.5million who saw her last summer – we need to radically improve this performance.

Assuming that we are successful in returning XH558 to flight, we have decided that we need to run a funding campaign spanning the whole year, aimed at avoiding getting in to a similar situation again. This Annual campaign will be launched formally on XH558’s Birthday, 25th May, and will run from this date every year. We are also closely examining our costs again, in order to reach a sustainable balance of income and expenditure in coming years.

These are desperate times and we recognise that with the shocking disaster in Haiti lest week, this is not a good time to prevail upon anyone’s generosity. However, from the above I hope you will understand that for XH558 it is now or never. We have no choice but to come back to you.

Very many thanks for any assistance you may be able to give.

Robert Pleming


So, there you have it, it's looking bleak, but let's hope something positive happens today, and that we don't have to face the prospect of a Vulcan-less summer.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Robert Pleming's New Year Update

Well, 2009 was a fantastic year for Vulcan fans with many, many great displays, but now 2010 is a different kettle of fish, and one where funds are once again needed in order to see the Delta Lady return to the skies.

In fact the end of December target of £200,000 was missed by around £30,000, and a further £630,000 is required by the end of March, if we are to be lucky enough to see her flying again this season.

Here's the latest detailed statement from Robert Pleming...

New Year Message and 50th Birthday Appeal Update
10th January 2010
Dear Supporters,
Firstly, I hope all of you had a good Christmas break and, on behalf of everyone at VTST, I wish you all the very best for 2010.
The message I have today is addressed to you, the “XH558 Activists”. I hope I am right in assuming that everyone who reads these newsletters is fully supportive of seeing XH558 continue to fly, and that each, in his or her own way, is committed to helping.
Your help is the past has been the reason why XH558 returned to flight, and entertained and inspired so many people over the last couple of years. Without you, and specifically your donations, this would never have happened.
Looking forward, we continue to face huge challenges. Our costs have increased, albeit hopefully temporarily, but the economy is in dire straits. I have just read a newspaper article forecasting that the impact of the recession on ordinary people really hasn’t been felt yet, and that things will get yet more painful in 2010.
In March 2009, after we reached our £1million Pledge target, I’m on record as saying: “We know that VTST needs to change, to adopt a new business model, that will ensure we don’t need to go through this all again next year, and also to have a chance of weathering poor economic conditions.”
Changes there have been: we have chopped costs wherever we can, but given what we do and how we have to do it, there is a limit to how much cost we can take out of the organisation. One example: with the business now based at Hinckley, and with XH558 at RAF Lyneham, we have saved over £10,000 per month in rental costs. We continue to focus on cost reduction, but there will always be surprises, so a large contingency element is vital.
We have increased our airshow revenues, through a combination of charging a higher average appearance fee and through a new “regional sponsorship” revenue stream. For example, XH558’s appearance at Whitehaven was sponsored by BNFL Sellafield.
We have revamped our merchandising, with the objective of substantially increasing the income from this source. A new online store will be launched on 1st February, with all profits now coming back to us. The Commercial Partnership Programme for small businesses is proving slowly successful, but corporate sponsorship in significant amounts continues to elude us due to the economic conditions, despite a very attractive offering.
But despite our best efforts, “fundraising” in all its forms remains our largest and most important revenue stream.
Since the end of the successful 2009 display season, our plan for fundraising is based on attracting large numbers of new supporters, principally from those 2.5 million who were thrilled by XH558 last summer.
Our key question to them is “Would you like to see XH558 continue to fly, so that she can entertain you and others in years to come?”. If you, as I have done, ask anyone who saw XH558 last summer this question, the answer is an emphatic “Yes!”. “Will you help by making a donation?”; “I didn’t know how to.” – is the way the conversation usually goes.
We have had no success at getting our message to this much bigger audience through the national media, even though we have tried every route we can think of, short of a national advertising campaign, which although costly, is under consideration. The problem is that we are no longer newsworthy – it’s old news, we did it, we got the Vulcan flying again!
This is where we now need you, as our loyal “XH558 Activists”, to help, principally because I believe we now have exhausted the realistic capability of our most loyal supporters to continue to fund XH558’s operation.
We need a National Campaign to keep XH558 funded, and whilst we talk to those who have been successful in setting up such a campaign, the only way we will do this is if sufficient numbers of people make a sufficiently big noise – this is where we need to have your help.
Very much our friendliest national newspaper has been the Mail on Sunday – you may recall the excellent coverage XH558 has received over the last year. But even the Mail on Sunday has admitted that there is currently no significant “hook” on which to hang a story.
This is where you come in. As a call to action, I ask everyone who is reading this message to email or write to the Mail on Sunday to ask them to take the lead in a National Campaign to keep XH558 flying, not only for this year but right the way through to Her Majesty the Queen’s – and the Vulcan’s – Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
If you can get your friends and family to email or write, the more the better! If enough people ask for a National Campaign, this must surely stand a better chance of success.

Please email:
Or write to:

The Editor
The Mail on Sunday,
Northcliffe House,
2 Derry Street,
London W8 5TT
Turning now to XH558’s current 50th Birthday Appeal, as expected, the donations to the Appeal tailed off in the run-up to Christmas, undoubtedly due for the most part to the inevitable expense at this time of year.
The Appeal now stands at just over £175,000 - a very positive result, yet there is still a long way to go for XH558 to be secure for another season.
January is a critical month for us, because to keep on track to fly XH558 in late Spring, we need to move forward on the Winter engineering programme. Despite not quite reaching the target of £200,000 for the end of December, we have decided to authorise Marshall Aerospace to start the lead-in work package, planning and design office activities, and this will mean paying them a substantial amount of cash up-front from the money raised so far.
Just this work alone will seriously dent our cash-flow as we wrestle to make the best use of the money you have donated to us, especially since the National Campaign could require substantial funding itself.
With this in mind, we wish to start calling in the first batch of pledges now from those who can afford it this month; we will send out letters very soon to those who indicated that they could honour their pledges in February.
Any pledges redeemed now will be put to good use not only in moving the Winter engineering programme forward, but also leveraging greater exposure and hence giving XH558 a better chance of success. The Vulcan to the Sky Supporter’s Club have also indicated a budget that might be made available for direct advertising of the campaign, so when added to the pledges, this could make a very significant difference.
If in these difficult times you are able to make a further donation, not only will it help the now-started Winter engineering programme along, it will help us engage the wider public - perhaps now the only realistic way to ensure our cause is successful. You, our supporters, can really make the difference…

Over the next two weeks or so, little work will be done on the aircraft herself, but our engineering team will be busy on preparatory activities, housekeeping, paperwork audits and the regular anti-deterioration checks at both our new Hinckley site and in the hangar at RAF Lyneham.

For those of you thinking of visiting the AutoSport International show at the NEC at Birmingham from 14th – 17th January, I am delighted to let you that Vulcan to the Sky will once again have a stand. Members of our aircrew will be in attendance during the Saturday and Sunday to talk to those who visit.
We have triumphed before in the face of huge adversity, so I would ask you once again to do all you can over the next few weeks, be it a letter or email to the Mail on Sunday, a donation or the payment of your pledge. For the sake of all that XH558 means to the British people, we simply must not fail!

With best wishes,
Robert Pleming

Vulcan To The Sky Trust

PS: For anyone redeeming a Pledge: please mark your donation clearly as an honoured pledge, with your name and postcode to avoid subsequent reminders - thank you!