Monday, 29 August 2011

Bank Holiday blues for XH558

The Bank Holiday was a big disappointment for Vulcan fans, and for the crew themselves after a hydraulic problem caused the cancellation of the weekend displays at Dunsfold.

Investigations are now underway, and hopefully they can be sorted out before next weekend's planned displays at Portrish & Cosby.

Fingers crossed all!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Dunsfold Update

Thanks to the XH558 Twitter, the time of display for Dunsfold is confirmed as 3.25pm, with the crew consisting of Bill Perrins, Martin Withers, and Barry Masefield.

Enjoy the display everyone!

What a difference a week makes...

This time last week, we were all caught up in the sadness revolving around the crashed Red Arrow and the extremely sad news that the pilot had tragically died during the incident.

It's been a tough week for the Red Arrows, with all the fleet grounded, and investigations made, but relatively good news followed at the end of the week with the announcement that the grounding had been lifted and the Reds were clear to fly again - great news for all concerned, as it would enable them to fly home, and also begin to practice again, but you really have to feel for the pilots of the other Reds who have lost a great friend I would imagine, in Red 4 and Flight Lieutenant Jon Eggings.

Nearly ready for Display!
As far as the Vulcan was concerned, it has been all hands to the pump as the quest to fix the fuel leak problem has been ongoing, with the troubled part heading to Portsmouth to be fixed, and tested, before being hurriedly driven back up North to Doncaster to get it refitted back to XH558 and tested again before being classed as serviceable.

However, thanks to the efforts of many, the Vulcan is once again now serviceable and ready to go, and we're pleased to see that the Vulcan is once again ready to display, and will hopefully be making an appearance at Dunsfold, where big time supporter Eddie Forrester will be willing the team to have her ready for display at the Wings & Wheels event where she has been a key component of the show in recent years. The estimated time of departure from Doncaster is around 2.30pm, so we'll all be looking closely at the twitter feed later today!

It's testament to all that work on the Vulcan's serviceability that we're even talking about a Vulcan ready for display, and I'm sure I'm not alone when I thanks everyone for their work, and look forward to more reports about how XH558 has delighted the crowds once again, and with only a couple of weeks left on the schedule for 2011, it would be great if she can see it through to the end this year.

There are of course big plans for next year - the 60th year since the first flight of the Vulcan, and hopefully she'll be booked by many venues, and the relevant monies can be raised to get her there - we're all dreaming of a final swansong maybe at the Queens Jubilee flypast, or even the Olympics flypast, which would be extremely nice to partake in.

Whatever happens, I think we should all congratulate everyone on the Vulcan project for giving us a cracking display season, and with the introduction of the corkscrew too, something to add to what is already a great display set.

So, all the best to the team for the visit to Dunsfold, and hopefully we can see some pistures & videos shortly!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Vulcan repair continues on sad weekend

It's been a terrible weekend as far as aviation is concerned, with despairing news coming from both the UK, US, and Canada - it's been one of those weekends.

Let's start at home though, and desperately sad news that we lost one of the Red arrows and more importantly, one of their pilots, who managed to steer his aircraft away from local houses and avoid a public disaster on the ground, and instead forsake his own life for the sake of others, and for that Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging should always be remembered, as having delighted millions of people since joining the Red Arrows, the display at Bournemouth was sadly to be his last.

The Reds always have a tremendous reputation, and I'm sure this will be built up as time goes on again, but it has certainly been dealt a horrible blow by this weekend's events, and as far as this Blogger is concerned, I would like to add to the many tributes by saying that every performance I've witnessed has left me in no doubt that the Reds are the best at what they do, and long may that continue. For now though, rest in peace Jon Egging.

Over in the US yesterday, over Kansas there was another fatality, with Bryan Jensen's biplane crashing to the ground to take another life that had delighted many in his previous displays, and the you tube clips (which I'm not going to link to) show how desperate the final act was, with the aircraft going the opposite way to what it shoudl, and sadly that took the life of Jensen.

Then, the news of an airliner going down in Canada, resulting in a dozen lives being taken, let's face it, Saturday 20th August 2011 really was a black black day in the world of aviation. Let's hope we don't have another like it.

As far as the Vulcan is concerned, well it's been a tough old time too, thankfully nothing on the scale as the above, but a grounding none the less thanks to a fuel leak that has prevented the team from displaying at Bournemouth, and several other airshows, and of course safety HAS to come first, but it doesn't stop that feeling of disappointment, and I'm sure the Vulcan team have been hit in the pocket over the cancellations, but safety is always paramount, and the correct decision was made.

We all wait with apprehension to see if the Vulcan can be repaired in time for the appearances in September - August must be wiped out I would have thought - but the first weekend in September has to be the target, and lets keep everything crossed that we see the Delta Lady in the air for those airshows in September, including the final airshow at Leuchars.

I'l leave the blog there now, as it's been a desperately sad weekend, and once again my condolences go out to everyone concerned with the sad news over the weekend.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

BBC Vulcan feature goes down well

Sunday night brought about something different for the Vulcan team, a chance to showcase the aircraft via a new programme, Britain's Hidden Heritage.

Now, normally, I wouldn't even entertain watching a programme like this, but knowing the Vulcan was to be featured, I, like many other XH558 fans I'm sure tuned in waiting for the feature.

Chairs, Chairs, and more Chairs! I've seen enough!
Have to say though I think the programme producers failed to mix the actual programme up a bit, I mean how many stateley homes did we actually have to look through, with some nice old furniture - yes, the first old table and chair set was nice to look at, but that wore a bit thin at the ninth or tenth room we were looking at!

Maybe it's just me failing to appreciate old furniture but I just thought maybe the Vulcan feature should have been a little earlier in the programme, as my attention had really been lost by the time it came on at 7.40pm, but when it did then the attention was fully restored.

bird's eye view from underneath the Vulcan
It's great for the Delta Lady to be featured on BBC1, and hopefully it will have encouraged others to find out a bit more about the story. Quite a bit has been made about the lack of publicity of the Vulcan Appeal, well I can tell you that the Beeb would more than likely not have allowed any kind of appeal detail as they are very very sensitive with putting things like that out, as some would class it as free advertising, and I do know that their scripts are vetted so that anything under the advertising banner comes out straight away.

I was a little disappointed that they didn't give us 'the howl' especially when the brilliant John Sargeant made reference to it, but what did come across was the boyish delight that John was feeling whilst up there in the skies alongside the Vulcan!

I can't help feeling that matbe Planes TV would have been better filming this on behalf of the BBC, as they would have featured everything we were looking for, and more.

That said, it was great to see national focus being placed on the Vulcan, and hopefully that will go from strength to strength, although it's one thing getting the publicity, the hardest thing is keeping it going, and that will be the challenge as it comes to the autumn & winter months, but we'll all be doing our bit to keep her out there!

Friday, 12 August 2011

More dates confirmed for the Vulcan!

It's been a quiet week since the Vulcan crew put their feet up after their last display sequence and transit, but the news from the Vulcan camp soon woke everyone up again in the last couple of days with two more dates added to the final segment of the airshow calendar.

Firstly, on Wednesday, XH558 was confirmed for the air show in the South of Devon, at Dawlish, where Eddie Forrester and his company Aerobytes, one of the major sponsors of the Vulcan has once again stepped in to assist with getting the aircraft to another display, and the Devonians will I'm sure be extremely grateful to Aerobytes for providing this unexpected bonus to the flying display, which takes place next Thursday - always wondered why a flying display takes place on a working day - could never work that one out!

I'm sure there will be plenty of sickies being thrown in that part of the world next Thursday to catch a glimpse of the Vulcan, who few in 2 years ago with the Red Arrows, in what was a fantastic picture opportunity, as highlighted here.

Then as if that wasn't enough, the people of Scotland will also get to see a display from the Vulcan, with a confirmed attendance at RAF Leuchars, with their final display taking place on Saturday 10th September, in what at present is scheduled to also be the final appearance of the year for the Vulcan team.

It's a real bonus for the people of North East Fife, and I recall on my trip to the Waddington Air Show that the Business Development Director, Michael Trotter advised then that they wanted to get the Vulcan to Leuchars, as it costs as much to keep the vulcan on the ground as it does to keep her in the air, bearing in mind that flying is good for the Delta Lady rather than sitting around, so it's great to see that the team at leuchars did in the end get in touch with the Vulcan team, and they now have an exciting addition to the flying display, hey, it may even give me a nudge to visit an airshow I've never been to!

So a good week then for Vulcan fans, as there are now 11 appearances to go before the season finishes, unless we get wind of any more of course, let's hope we do - there are still plenty of events to go before the season is out.

As mentioned, it's been a quiet week up until then, however, on a non-Vulcan moment, I was pleased to see the Red Arrows basing themselves at Hawarden Airport for the day last Sunday as they attended both Rhyl & Blackpool Airshows, and gave the people of Chester a chance to see the world famous display team, and brought traffic to a stop as they arrived, departed, arrived, departed, arrived, and then departed again the following day, I think people's ears are still recovering after the first three took off on the Sunday afternoon they were so low!

That's it for this week, hopefully there will be more Vulcan news next week as we build up to the crew getting back inside the aircraft following her mid season break!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Target Hit!!!

Amazingly, the news came through yesterday that the £350,000 target for the Vulcan's Summer Appeal had been hit - after a major weekend on the donations front.

In what was a surprising final figure, £351,264 was raised thanks to a last weekend donations total of nearly £15,000 saw the Appeal hit that target, which had been set to ensure that the 2011 Airshow schedule could be completed, and once again the Vulcan supporters (and the public) have stepped up to the plate when it mattered, and given us all that fantastic sight and sound of the Vulcan to the Sky!

So, it's a time to celebrate for Vulcan fans, and those celebrations will I'm sure go on until the end of the season in September, when the planning and fundraising will no doubt start again with the Winter Service in mind, and as ever those Vulcan fanatics will be ready to help once again.

At this point I want to congratulate all concerned who have helped keep the Vulcan in the skies for 2011, from those putting their money where their mouth is, to those who have serviced the aircraft and looked after it on the ground, to of course the team flying the Delta Lady, and of course the Vulcan to the Sky team for their achievements this year.

Target hit...Boom!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Sunderland success as Vulcan Appeal ends

Well, it's been another successful weekend for the Vulcan team, with yet another weekend delighting tens of thousands of people, this time up at Sunderland.

It was the first time that the Vulcan had appeared at the Sunderland Airshow, and judging by the comments and feedback, XH558's appearance has been well received, and with a bit of luck will get a repeat there next year.

Roaring away at Sunderland
The team performed their over the sea displays during late afternoon on both Saturday & Sunday, and following the return to Doncaster on the Sunday, I guess that it's now a case of pausing for a few weeks before the final run in starts on August 20th at Shoreham - stilll maybe time though to add a couple more appearances in elsewhere if airshow organisers can find the funds to bring her to their show.

It's certainly been another fine effort up to now as far as the Vulcan's attendance is concerned, with only the rain affected RAF Cosford show being the only display that the team could not complete - as with many others that day - even the Red Arrows had to curtail their display that day such was the awful weather.

The crew can put their feet up for a few weeks now, and knowing that their displays are thrilling everyone wherever they go, they must be bursting with pride each time they see the reviews and feedback from the crowds, they are certainly treated as the stars of the show, and in my opinion, deservedly so.

Take me back to Chester....please!
It would be my dream to see the Vulcan return to the skies of Chester, not sure we'll get to see it again following the last time at Airbus Broughton in 2009, as Chester just isn't made for flying displays, but you never know, and I'll keep my dream alive - I certainly have great memories of displays going back many years at Hawarden, and back in the golden age of airshows seemingly everywhere round the country, I remember sitting in my mum's car as a kid with many other people sat in the cars in a country lane opposite the airfield, seeing the Vulcan descending over us and down to the airfield - that was some sight (and sound), in those days, even an airshow of that nature seemed to attract the likes of the Tornado, Red Arrows, Nimrod, Javelin, Vampire, and the Shackleton - some classics there, but seeing the Vulcan on the programme would always get the excitement levels to fever pitch!

I'll have to dig out some pics that I would have taken as a kid, as I'm sure there are some in the tins upstairs (you know the tins, that everyone has stored somewhere with photos from the past kept in them!).

So, back to the Vulcan, and of course the Summer Appeal ended on Sunday, and hopefully the Appeal got somewhere towards the £350k needed, I think at last count they were £14k off so my guess would maybe be that they finished around the £343k mark, but hopefully I'll be proved wrong and finished higher, but whatever the case I really think the public - in this tough climate - have proved that they want to see the Vulcan kept in the skies rather than on the ground, and everyone can take a bow for 'doing their bit' in seeing her up there. I know I felt pride in knowing that the people of Southport, Fairford, Waddington, and so on were seeing the Vulcan with the help of my standing order donation, in fact they should get a sponsorship from Tesco's as 'every little helps!'.

Remember though, it doesn't end here, if we want to see the Vulcan ripping the skies apart then we'll no doubt still have to dig deep to see that, and I'd expect to see some kind of Appeal launched soon as the Winter Service will need to be done, anyone know how much that costs? I don't, it was a general question!

Enjoying the Summer Sun!
But whatever it costs, and whatever the appeal, I know that many will 'do their bit' again, just to increase the chances of seeing this Cold War veteran in the skies for what could turn out to be her second 'farewell' in 2012 - but let's hope not.

Finally, here's a video from the Sunderland Airshow, and when will commentators & organisers learn that people are more interested in hearing the noise of the Vulcan, rather than their own voices or the music that's been blasted out over the speakers, as in this clip...even when the Vulcan is at its noisiest towards the end of the clip he's still waffling on, and you just want to shout..."Shut Uuuuuuup!"

Long Live The Vulcan!