Avro Vulcan Takes Final Flight

Beloved British bomber retires.

The Avro Vulcan XH558, a British bomber with a beautiful delta profile and an unmistakable howling sound, has landed for the last time, concluding its “Farewell to Flight” season. The charitable organization Vulcan to the Sky Trust has operated the last of the breed, named The Spirit of Great Britain, for the past eight years, providing the public with many flight displays of the exciting airplane.

The Avro Vulcan was designed in the late 1940s and retired from the Royal Air Force in 1984. XH558 returned to the skies again in 2007 and flew 228 flights and 346 hours, much to the thrill of millions of airshow spectators.

XH558 had more than 10 percent more flight time than any other Vulcan and the companies involved with the maintenance of the project found it gradually more difficult to know where potential failures could occur, Vulcan to the Sky Trust said. Additionally, a very limited number of people know the airplane well enough to work on it. Hence, the hard decision to retire the beloved airplane was made.

The Spirit of Great Britain took its last flight on October 28 at the Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport. It appeared that the grey skies over the airport wept with sadness as the Vulcan got ready for its last flight, and grown men were weeping too, according to a report made by Vulcan to the Sky’s Ryan Hart.

With low clouds in the morning there was question as to whether the flight would take place at all; but the clouds lifted, as did the Vulcan.

After the short flight, which included several flypasts and a touch and go, the chute was pulled and the airplane started its final taxi. “The airport went quiet as the roar of her four Olympus engines was reduced to a rumble, and XH558 completed a slow and depressing taxi back to the hangar,” said Hart.

While the Vulcan will never fly again, it will not be out of the public’s eye. A display and educational center will be available at Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the airplane will occasionally be started up and run down the runway.

The Avro Vulcan retires from our “10 Airplanes You Won’t Believe are Still Flying” list, but you can check out some other rare beauties still in the sky.

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