Friday, 29 July 2011

XH558 all set for Sunderland show

It's the last weekend of the month, and also the last action for the Vulcan team for the next few weeks, as they travel up to the Sunderland airshow for performances on Saturday and Sunday.

Last weekend it was of course the North West that got to see the Delta Lady, now its the turn of the North East, as the two dayer at Sunderland gets going.

The Vulcan is scheduled to appear in the late afternoon slot on both days, with 4.20pm the provisional time booked in.

It's also the final weekend of the Vulcan Appeal, with only £23,000 left to find before the target of £350k is hit, it will be a tough ask to reach that target by Sunday, based on previous weekend totals, but hopefully they can get near as dammit to it - remember you can donate today either visiting here, or by texting VULCAN to 70558 - do it today and help reach that target!

It's been a week of reflection for many up here in the North West following the displays at Southport and Lake Windermere, and whilst appreciating the fact that we saw an attendance at two shows in this neck of the woods, it also shows just how great the lack of shows are up here. The only other ones to note are Blackpool & Rhyl, both of which are in their infnacy, and without any kind of substantial budget to play around with.

The olden days - some call it the Golden Age - used to see the Woodford Airshow, and that of course has a special meaning for the Vulcan, given that's where she was first built, and had it not been for the Vulcan at Woodford being a feeder to XH558 as far as parts are concerned, then we may not have seen the last couple of years displays from the team.

Woodford used to be a classic show, even though it was extremely expensive at the time, they always did manage to get something different there - unfortunately the only regular visitor to the show was the rain, which pretty much saw the cancellation of the shows there. Two years there for me stand out in particular, the first being the one that saw the Sukhoi SU-27's and the other being the rained off one where the B1 was there, now they were the days, just a shame that you couldn't really see the B1 due to the horrible weather that day!

As I'm talking about Woodford Airshow, thought I'd pick out a video off youtube for it, no Vulcan in this, but some real classics, that used to be major attractions at the show. Enjoy...

Monday, 25 July 2011

Blues skies seal special Vulcan appearance on Saturday

Vulcan fans in the North West of England were treated to a special appearance by XH558 on Saturday at both Southport and Lake Windermere as the sun beat down on the crowds watching.

At Southport on saturday, the 'Vulcan Effect' was in full swing, as many people were overheard saying "I can't wait for the Vulcan" or something similar - I lost count of the amount of times I heard that on Saturday.

Having started off with some turboprop items on Saturday as well as the Hunter & Hawk, like the weather, the show was just getting warmed up in time for the big hitters to arrive after 3pm, and arrive they did, the 2 Tornado's doing their role demo certainly woke the place up with many pyrotechnics going off on the beach, and some fantastic fast passes from the pair, before then the tranquility of the Lancaster bomber and a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight then took over.

Just after 4pm it was time for the Vulcan's friends, The Blades, to do their display, and what a great little display they have, with all ex-Red Arrows pilots doing the biz here, and whilst the end of the their display was approaching you could visibly see he vast numbers of people swelling towards any vacant space, looking around for the first sight of the Vulcan.

XH558: Busy thrilling the Southport crowd
It was spotted out to the right in the Blackpool direction, and without hesitation flew in straight into her routine, and once here had a captivated audience enjoying every minute of the Vulcan display on a blue sky background, which was extremely welcome!

The twists and turns of Martin Withers display was beautiful to watch and of course those power climbs which sees the arrival of 'the noise' and we weren't let down when awaiting 'the howl' - you could see them shaping up for it over the beach, and up they pulled and out came the famous howl, now one of the main attractions of the display, and the corkscrew followed, however no need for airbrakes this time thanks to that sea breeze!

Fantastic sight over Lake Windermere
Then we were treated again, just when we thought the display was over, XH558 lowered the undercarriage, and gave us another pass before pulling up with a final power climb that made Southport beach shudder such was the noise that followed, and upon that climb it was time to wave farewell for the time being to the Vulcan, and off she went in the direction of Lake Windermere, off to thrill the thousands waiting up there to see her.

Much has been said about the crowds disappearing after the Vulcan display has finished at the various venues, well I'm a Vulcan fan of course, but didn't leave the display but I did retreat back to the pub & then the car to be in place to leave once the Red Arrows were due to finish their display, so it's true in a sense that lots of people do tend to be glued to the Vulcan display, and then once over, they do head elsewhere, one thing is for certain though there was certainly evidence of the 'Vulcan Effect' at Southport once again.

As fas as the appeal goes, we're nearly there folks, as of Friday's total only another £31,000 to raise by the end of July to ensure that the appearances for August & September are completed, and considering the delight that has been given to fans by the Vulcan crew, I'll certainly be throwing another donation forward as that £350k target gets ever closer.

Text 'Vulcan' to 70558 today to donate a fiver
I'm sure there will be another appeal later in the year as the Winter Service is needed, but hopefully their will be some additional sponsorship accrued, and with all the standing orders that have been set up, it would be interesting to note how much per month is now raised via those - remember the more standing orders that are in place the lower the remaining targets should be, so if you can spare a little more then please set one up, it's only £5.58 per month.

I was reading Barry Masefield's latest blog and it was an eye opener when I read about the trip to (and from) Yeovilton, as following the immense achievement of getting that number two engine ready, the team had to get off down to Yeovilton before the airfield closed for the day, but get down there they did, followed by a stop over in a Travelodge, before then having to display, and drive back up to Lincolnshire to pick up their cars - you don't really think about that part, you just think oh they'll stay down there until they fly the Vulcan back, but of course it's never what you think - fair play to the crew, and keep the blog going Barry!

That's it for now, hopefully another update on the finances to come, and hopefully another major step closer to reaching that magical target - remember you can donate a fiver today by texting Vulcan to 70558 - do it now if you can!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Great news as the Vulcan confirms Lake Windermere appearance

It looks as though the North West will be getting to see a little more of XH558 as it's just been announced in the last few minutes that the Vulcan will be doing a display flight over Lake Windermere - which should be a fascinating scenic display, and will take place this Saturday - the same day she is due up at Southport.

The appearance, which has been made possible by Vulcan supporter and sponsor Eddie Forrester, whose company Aerobytes have once again put their money where their mouths are, and sponsored the display, so the sight & sound of the Vulcan is set to rip through the quiet & peaceful setting of Lake Windermere this Saturday - or Sunday, depending on the weather & serviceability of course.

The news also comes on the same day that the Vulcan Appeal total is now standing at £310,000 - so just another £40k to go, and hopefully that will be boosted by the text appeal that was contained in yesterday's Sun newspaper report, to see that again, click here.

The news gets better and better it seems at present, so let's hope that by the 31st July, the target will be hit, and we can all enjoy the August & September displays that will have been made possible by joe public.

Successful weekend at Fairford as Appeal passes £300k

The weekend saw another successful couple of displays at arguably the biggest airshow on the UK calendar, as the Air Tattoo was graced by the presence of the Vulcan with two stunning displays.

XH558 : Star of the Show
Many who were at the event commented how the display had been more dynamic than ever, which is a recurring comment it seems at present, and that will surely help boost the coffers - in fact right now the Vulcan Appeal stands at £302,000 - a significant milestone passed as the £350k target gets closer and closer, with the July 31st deadline looming.

Included in that total of £302k is also a very welcome £10,000 donation from the Vulcan to the Sky Supporters Club, and is a perfectly timed input from the VTTSSC, and with the Vulcan Village having their biggest display of items for purchase at the Air Tattoo, then hopefully the target will reduce quickly, although I would expect that once that target is reached the team will soon be planning their next appeal which will be the Winter Service.

On the subject of appeals, there was a good piece in The Sun yesterday about the appeal to save the Vulcan, and you can read more about it here - shame about one of the comments below the story, however, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but one of them is just so way off the mark it's untrue! let's hope the article encourages a few more to donate. Link:

This week of course its the run up to the Southport Airshow, and XH558 will be appearing at the Saturday show at approximately 4.20pm, give or take the odd minute delay due to sea breeze!

Fairford to Southport via Wittering!
This is the North West's chance to welcome back the aircraft that was built in the same region of course, Woodford in Manchester to be exact, but sadly there is no possibility of even a public flypast there due to the authorities claiming that the roads would become a nightmare surrounding the former British Aerospace factory.

So, Southport it is, and the Vulcan crew will be hoping for some blue skies to greet them following the downpours at Fairford which delayed the start of this year's show.

It will be an exciting time for 'us lot' camped up here in the North West where we rarely get to see the Vulcan fly, so we'll all be making the most of it this coming Saturday.

As an appetite whetter, here's a dark but very good youtube video of the Vulcan at Southport, something quite haunting about this particular one...

Friday, 15 July 2011

Vulcan at Fairford...I predict a RIAT!

Yes, it's the big one as far as the Vulcan team are concerned, as it heads to 'the biggest military airshow in the world' as the organisers put - well that has been much talk about whether that is still the case now with the thinner number of aircraft on display, but it's still a massive draw to the general public and that's what the Vulcan Village team will be counting on at Fairford.

The Vulcan Village incidentally, is set to be the biggest one that they've built, and with over 150,000 visitors expected over the weekend, many will see this as the golden nugget to raise funds, and with the current total close to £290,000, it would be great to get past that £300k mark, with the deadline of 31st July looming in the background, to raise the remaining £60k.

I could talk figures until the end of the day,but it's all about the display of the Vulcan too, and that's the appeal of course, so let's just hope the weather plays ball at RIAT this weekend, the forecast isn't brilliant, but if it remains on XH558's side then that will be best for everyone, so keep your fingers crossed that the umbrellas can stay in the car this weekend, or at least not having to put them up!

Unfortunately this blogger cannot make it to the Air Tattoo this year, but looking forward to seeing the reviews and the hundreds of youtube clips of the air display.

To all going, have a great time, and good luck to the Vulcan team in bringing yet another fantastic display to the Great British public, oh and don't forget a fiver (text Vulcan to 70558) goes a long way!

Here's a reminder of that great take off from 2009 on the wet Sunday to whet your appetite...

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Duo with Sea Vixen highlight of Vulcan weekend

It's been another rip-roaring weekend as far as Avro Vulcan XH558 is concerned as the Yeovilton Air Day came and went, with a treat for all fans, as the Vulcan not only provided its own display, but twinned up with the Sea Vixen for an excellent fly past during the airshow.

The Vulcan as we know has been a key attraction at recent events, and next week will no doubt be the centre piece for many at RIAT - the Air Tattoo - which has been struggling to name some star attractions, mainly because of the cut backs in the military world, but also because of the current conflicts taking place in Libya & Afghanistan.

Yeovilton was of course eagerly anticipated just like Waddington, and whilst the airshow weather wasn't as kind this weekend, it was still good enough, although many were fearing that the Vulcan wouldn't attend due to the engine problem being experienced earlier in the week, but fair play to the many volunteers who worked long hours in the week to get XH558 ready for action, and on Friday afternoon she was declared ready for action, and off she went from Waddington to Yeovilton, no amazing overshoot opportunity this time a it was straight into the base at the first attempt, but thanks to the volunteers she had made it to her destination.

Sea Vixen & XH558 together in stunning flypast
 And so on Saturday, she took to the skies mid afternoon ready for another display to whip up the masses and she didn't disappoint with a spectacular fly past with the De Havilland Sea Vixen, unexpected that's for sure, but very much welcomed by the attending public, and as you can see from the pictures very special indeed.

Another great display from the team, and also on the back of another boost with the current Vulcan Appeal total standing at £281k, meaning that now the remaining target is £79k, very much achievable, and surely at this stage the decision must be made to continue, as there are several key venues to visit, and display at in September, let's hope Leuchars can find a sponsor for the Vulcan to attend their airshow so that the Scottish public can once again witness the great display that the Vulcan is capable of - and also command the attention of everyone on the airfield, that has been prevalent at each display so far, with everyone having their eyes fixed on the 'tin triangle' in the air!

Another week starts tomorrow, but it's no ordinary week, as its the build up to the Royal International Air Tattoo, and hopefully two great displays on Saturday & Sunday will see the donations come flooding in as that £350,000 target gets closer and closer.

XH558 will remain at Yeovilton this week until the trip to Fairford, which at present is likely to be Thursday or Friday, and many will I'm sure flock to Yeovilton to witness the take off whilst at the other end at Fairford, there are sure to be many waiting on one of those Arrivals Days.

As a reminder, here's the link to the Vulcan Appeal where you can contribute, or indeed text Vulcan to 70558, where each texts sends a Fiver to the Appeal - let's do it for XH558!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Funds flying in following Waddington Weekend

There was real reason for Vulcan fans to celebrate the last few days with appearances at Waddington on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tues....ah hold on, not so much Tuesday thanks to a fuel line issue which was preventing Number 2 engine going past 'idle' so the planned departure on Tuesday was placed on hold, and will hopefully take place later this week, before the Yeovilton show this coming weekend.

So, with three appearances in the air in just four days, plenty had got to see the Vulcan and hear the Vulcan howl, and all of that including a very busy Vulcan Village must have contributed to the best weekend of donations so far, as nearly £12000 was raised over the weekend pushing the Appeal total past the £275,000 milestone, and the Trust are now only £73,000 away from achieving the £350k needed by the end of July, and hopefully with the Air Tattoo coming up, that will generate even more income.

It was interesting to note that £2000 was raised via the Text Donations, and with nearly 500 people texting in their £5 donations it is proof that the appeal campaigns are working well. Don't forget just text Vulcan to 70558 and you can donate a fiver to the appeal.

There have been several great Waddington you tube videos of the Vulcan's performance the last few days, so I may pick one of those out shortly, but its great just to think back and visualise that stunning display, and fortunately I was there on Saturday to see it, and thinking back to that cork screw climb too - brilliant.

I was speaking to one of the Vulcan crew about the future and in particular next year, and the hopes are still high for the Vulcan to take part in the Queens' Jubilee celebrations, and with the Vulcan team proving their worth in keeping the aircraft in the air and delighting hundreds of thousands, they are also demonstrating their airworthiness too, and that is of interest of course to the likes of the CAA - and just may be the clincher as far as the flight next year is concerned.

2012 is of course not just the Queens' Jubilee, but it is of course the 30th Anniversary of the Falklands Conflict where the famous 8000 mile sorties were made, and not forgetting that the first flight of the Vulcan took place in 1952 - so next year will also see the 60th anniversary of that milestone too - what a year 2012 could actually turn out to be!

Just a fantastic aircraft, and one that this blogger really enjoys watching, along with many many others, long may it continue.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

A great weekend for the Vulcan!

It was of course the Waddington Airshow this weekend, and I think its fair to say that the Vulcan thrilled all those who watched her display - the crowdlines suddenly tightened up as far as vacant space was concerned, and eyes all gazed over to the left for the take off following the towing out of XH558 from its Vulcan Village home.

The weekend had started with great news in that the Vulcan Appeal had passed the £250k milestone, and in fact had reached £265k, so with that, all that was needed was a great display on the saturday - and the Delta Lady did not disappoint.

XH558 - looking good in the sun!
Saturday morning started for me based in Lincoln having stayed overnight following the journey from Chester, and at 7am it was time to leave for the base, and nestling up alongside the entrance gate where the other static Vulcan was sitting - looking on as if to say "You're in for a hell of a day Vulcan fans" - and when the gates were open, it was perhaps fate that we were directed to park very close to the Vulcan Village!

A quick look at the programme confirmed that the Vulcan would take to the skies at around 3.30pm - thanks Twitter - and then the usual morning walkaround (complete with overpriced bacon butty) around the static stuff, and breathing in the fresh Lincolnshire air, you know the airshow type where the anticipation generates its own kind of atmosphere.

I visited the Vulcan team to see the Summer Plaque which features both my name and also Chester FC's name - more about that in a later blog - and had a good chat with the team, who were so desperate to show her off around the country, and confirmed that it costs as much to keep the Vulcan on the ground as it does to get her in the air, and around the airshow circuit.

In that conversation was the discussion about XH558 taking part in the Leuchars Airshow, and the fact that the team had left several messages to the organisers in a bid to see the Vulcan up there to allow the Scottish supporters the chance to see her in action.

There is of course the discussion about finance, but with the costs required for the Vulcan - nowhere is going to get a free show, and indeed many will get the display sponsored and that should be the hope for the Leuchars fans.

Anyway, for the morning in the searing heat, there were plenty of tours of the aircraft, and fairdo's to the team, as they must have been roasting do those, and also the volunteers in the tent, who were doing very good business throughout the day it seemed.

Ready for action
As soon as the Lancaster set off it left a space for it's older brother the Vulcan, to slot into, and so it was that XH558 was towed over to be fuelled up for its display.

The Red Arrows were performing, but thousands of eyes were concentrating on XH558, and as soon as the reds had departed, it wasn't long before she moved on to the runway ready for take off - and that didn't take long either!

The Vulcan roar (and howl) followed, and we were all treated to a very good (and loud) display - many voices claiming that was the best they'd seen since the oden days (and the new cork screw manouvre seemed to boost those claims) - a big display was needed I felt to give everyone else the Vulcan effect, and I think it worked a treat.

Not sure if any awards were given out for the display, but surely she would have been a candidate, and hopefully she'll do just that at the Air Tattoo in a couple of weeks time.

So, a great day, and I'm sure a great Sunday too given the weather, and hopefully everyone at Waddo & Goodwood enjoyed the appearances.

Next movement sees XH558 go from Waddington to Yeovilton, for the display down there, and hopefully weather permitting, they are all in for the same treat!

Remember that you can help keep the Vulcan in the air by texting VULCAN to 70558 - it costs a fiver but think about the display you've just seen at Waddo, and help try and keep it going through to next year!