It’s winter and once again we’re being asked to “Save the Vulcan!” It seems like groundhog day with the Vulcan to the Sky trust in financial dire straits. The staff at the Vulcan to the Sky Trust are again on a months notice pending the results of another fundraising campaign. It all seems pretty grim.
Unfortunately, the Vulcan was made airworthy just in time for one of the deepest economic downturns in history. Sponsorship for such a project has proved very hard to come by despite some very high profile campaigns and appearances at some of the countries biggest airshows. Ever since it make it’s first test flight, the Vulcan has been almost entirely dependant in public donations to keep flying. It has been an amazing feat of will-power and public support that has kept the Vulcan flying.
The Vulcan has had a profound effect on UK airshows. While it may not have been totally responsible for the massive crowds that most shows have enjoyed in the last couple of years, it certainly has contributed. The Vulcan does attract significant media interest for the shows which can only boost crowd numbers and as well as attracting a band of ever enthusiast supporters. Indeed, Bournemouth Council put a large part of the success of it’s show to the Vulcan’s three appearances during the air festival. The sheer presence of this emotive aircraft has always turns heads, particularly the final “howl” as the Vulcan spirals into the heavens at the end it’s displays.
The season however, wasn’t without it’s low points. The first couple of weeks of July 2009 were particularly trying with issues with the aircraft’s “Permit to Fly” preventing displays at Waddington and combined technical issues (brakes) and poor weather preventing a display at Yeovilton. However, after that the Vulcan made some spectacular airshow appearances and it has enjoyed some superb support from the public.
But all the summer’s fund-raising has not been enough to secure the future of the project. There’s been plenty of critism of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VttS), mainly on internet forums and even media such as Twitter and Facebook! Many good valid points have been made but much of it is unfounded. Opportunities have been missed with the fund-raising, notably a very late start for the 2010 fund raising campaign that really should have been running way before the end of the 2009 display season. However, the Civil Aviation Authority have been very positive about the VttS’s approach to the operation of the Vulcan. In a recent interview on key.aero Padhraic Kelleher, head of Airworthiness with the CAA, commented about the “Permit to Fly” issues at Waddington and VttS’s approach to the problems; “They behaved impeccably, and just what you would hope for an organisation that’s in charge of such a fabulous symbol.”
I think it’ll be a huge shame if the Vulcan were not to make it to the 2010 display season. Airshows will survive without the aircraft but the displays would be greatly missed. However you view the Vulcan to the Sky trust, you cannot escape the fact that the Vulcan is a hugely expensive aircraft to operate and any operator would be struggling without massive financial support.
Whether the Vulcan flies or not in 2010 depends on whether the masses really want the aircraft to fly again. If it goes, it’s likely to go forever and end up being a lifeless museum exhibit rather than an inspirational and exciting living example of British engineering at it’s best.
To pledge money to help return Vulcan XH558 to flight and airshows throughout 2010 – CLICK HERE.