Saturday, 27 June 2015

The mighty Vulcan returns to Woodford, her birthplace

X-ray Hotel 558, the last flying Vulcan which has been giving flying displays since the RAF retired the magnificent cold war bomber a few decades ago, is to retire herself after this year's flying season. This weekend she is doing a 'farewell tour' of the UK, and today it included the birthplace of not only XH558, but that of every Vulcan ever built.

558 runs in from the south at Woodford today

Members of Avro Heritage gathered at our museum today to witness 558's approach to this historic airfield, and her fly byes and departure to the south. She came into the area from the north to pass over Barton airfield, then Manchester Airport, before visiting us at Woodford. She was bang on time with a '55' estimate for Barton (14:55) followed by a positioning by Manchester Air Traffic Control to a 4 mile final for runway 23R at EGCC. We saw her on that approach as she descended for her Airport flypast, then saw her pull up, and up, and up, into a wing-over that at the ballistic apex went to the inverted! 

Black plumes of exhaust from her tailpipes after recovery from that manouvre indicated that Martin Withers was piling on the power for a steep turn around Alderley Edge (that big delta wing generates a lot of induced drag in a tight turn) to align with Woodford's easterly approach despite being cleared by Machester ATC for a downwind lefthand positioning for Woodford's former runway 25. 

558 ran in from the south at about 500 feet, roared over us, and turned right over our museum, for a wide looping left turn back easterly onto a downwind heading for runway 25. 

Having attended almost all the Woodford airshows from the late 1960s to the last one, to see a steeply banked Vulcan in silhouette above the familiar hills of the Cheshire Peak brought back many memories.

She curved around towards us and appeared over the museum before departing south for Cosford, with a wing-rocking bye bye. 

No wing-over for us.  Mores the pity.

Bye bye Woodford (for now). Off to Cosford!

Here's the well-over-the -vertical wing over at EGCC that we didn't get at Woodford:

Vulcan wing over at Manchester today

And here's a video taken by Avro Heritage Trust member Terry of the Vulcan overflying our Museum:

Vulcan over AHT Museum

I was glad I'd ridden to Woodford on the little Honda Innova. If I'd come in the car I'd have been ages getting home as the traffic outside the Woodford gates was going nowhere. By riding on verges etc. I reached the Unicorn pub past standing traffic and cars parked on every available space, and from there the traffic was flowing OK.

So, October... the very last Vulcan flight. Rumour has it 558 will be back to her birthplace one last time. I'll be there!

Here's three more pictures, taken by other Avro Heritage Trust members:

 XH558 over our own XM603 parked next to the Museum. Inside the Museum we have the nose and cockpit section of Vulcan XM602 in which our visitors will be able to sit in the captain's seat and pretend to be Martin Withers.

The aforesaid Mr. Withers brings 558 round the Woodford overhead 

558 over our Museum

This superb video from Andrea Maley on Facebook shows that Martin had a bit of a play in the Lake District on his way down to Manchester:

Vulcan over Kendal

You can hear the 'rutting dinosaur' Vulcan howl as
She climbs away...



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