This is the second communication in an occasional series about the Avro Vulcan there are other communications here and here. In January time I went inside XM655 and saw it was good. While in the Lake District recently I decided to sneak to Carlisle Airport and the Solway Aviation Museum. It was a foggy cool day, quite the opposite from the previous day when I had walked Helvellyn.
There were a couple of buildings with the usual paraphernalia nicely set out and some interesting stuff on the UK Space Programme and RAF Spadeadam. Outside the aircraft were nice but they do need to be inside, it’s a shame to see these beasts getting weathered, if only we had access to a warm dry boneyard.
The people running the museum were chatty and interesting. They pointed me to the Devil’s Porridge Museum which I will visit another time!
The photos would more more alive if the sun had shone a little! There were two planes which allowed access to the cockpits, the Canberra and the Sea Prince. The Sea Prince was used as a navigation trainer for the Royal Navy and that is why the seats in the cabin are set out that way.
There’s a certain smell that emanates from inside aircraft, a mix of oil, electrics and age.
Once I had toured these I was allowed to get inside the Vulcan which is always an enjoyable experience. I think people who make films about aircraft need to get in a real plane. They quite often make their planes with plenty of room to move around without realising the claustrophobic nature of cockpits.
If you are into aircraft then the Solway Aviation Museum is well worth a visit. Good value for money and the chance to get inside some of the planes.
Wellesbourne Airfield in Warwickshire. Home to a flying school, a Saturday market and an AVRO VULCAN: XM655.
This Vulcan is the most complete of all the Vulcans remaining. Although XH558 was the last airworthy Vulcan they had to remove stuff from it to get the airworthiness certificate. Hence, XM655 is more complete and still does high speed taxi runs.
I wrote about XH558 here when I saw her perform for the last time over Coventry airport.
I think the most amusing thing about XM655 is that when it was bought from the RAF it landed at Wellesbourne, but the runway isn’t long enough for it to take off again. That does seem a touch short sighted.
If you get the chance on a Saturday to visit you most definitely should. For a donation the members of the preservation society will give you a tour of the cockpit and tell you wonderful stories about the Vulcan and her history. Did you know that all the money went into the airframe and so the navigation equipment was pretty much the same as the Lancaster? For long flights the crew had a sextant.
With a crew of five, but only two ejector seats there were “design” issues I guess. The three crew facing backwards had to jump out through the entrance door in the floor. That was probably an issue when flying low!
So, the Vulcan is a beautiful plane. It’s very loud and imposing. I am curious as to how good it was compared to other planes of its generation. We Brits love to imagine that our stuff is the best. I just wonder how much that is true.
This beast is graceful and wonderful. I am glad she never was used for her intended mission.
On the 13 Sept 2015 I saw the Avro Vulcan fly for my last time. I was geocaching with Sally near Coventry airport when I checked twitter and saw that the Vulcan XH558 had taken off from Doncaster heading to Coventry for a display. This wasn’t on the official list of shows that she was doing but I was excited and ran the mile or so to the end of the runway.
Vulcan confirmed serviceable, leaving Doncaster circuit enroute to Coventry.
Before XH558 was due to arrive there was a short display by a Gloster Meteor and a DeHavilland Vampire.
Once these two planes had landed I could see the Vulcan in the distance. I had seen her recently while I was at RAF Cosford and the noise was stunning. It had been a long time since I had seen a Vulcan fly. I used to watch them at airshows in the 80s. The noise then was always incredible and I distinctly remember an occasion at a Duxford Airshow when she made my stomach shake. The Vulcan flew past a few times and did some lovely throttle-up manoeuvres. All in all it was great to see her fly for my last time. I’m glad I ran the short distance to the runway.
It’s a sad thing that she won’t fly again, but a good thing that she did.
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