Last Chance to See Vulcan Fly

British organization to retire the last of the breed.

A very special airplane is about to join our list of cool airplanes that will never fly again. The last flying British Avro Vulcan B.2 — XH558, also named "The Spirit of Great Britain" — with its unique sound and look, is about to be grounded for good. "If you don't see her this season, there will be no more opportunities to hear a Vulcan's spine-tingling howl as she climbs high into the sky for another memorable display, or to see her rolling onto her side to reveal her giant delta silhouette," Dr Robert Pleming, chief executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, said.

The three key companies that have kept the airplane flying since 2007 are no longer able to support the program, Vulcan to the Sky Trust said in a statement. Cost is not the only problem, though it takes about $3 million per year to keep the Vulcan flying. There knowledge required to maintain the aging and unique airplane is possessed by only a few people, and their abilities are deteriorating. Also, the airplane itself and its systems have flown a lot more hours than any other Vulcan, making it increasingly more difficult to ensure the safety of the airplane.

The Vulcan played a key role for the Royal Air Force in bomber, air-to-air refueling and reconnaissance missions during the 1960s through 1980s. The Vulcan B.2 airplanes were powered by four Olympus 201 or 301 turbojet engines, producing 17,000 or 20,000 pounds of thrust respectively, bringing the airplane to a top speed of Mach 0.93. The Vulcan could carry more than 20,000 pounds of armament, including a nuclear bomb.

The last display season for the Vulcan will start next weekend, on June 6, at the Throckmorton Air Show in the south central part of Great Britain. The Vulcan will perform in more than a dozen other air shows around the country until its last performance on August 30 at the Dunsfold Wings and Wheels show.

Check out the amazing profile of the Vulcan in this video.

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