Britain’s last Vulcan Mambe: Inactive but not lost, planned to be restored as a Cold War relic for public

The article discusses the fate of the last airworthy Vulcan bomber, XH558, which flew for the last time in October 2015 and has since been placed in storage due to financial and logistical challenges. Here are the key points:

  1. Legacy of XH558: XH558 is a 57-year-old Vulcan bomber, a Cold War relic that delighted millions of people with air shows and fly-pasts in the UK. It was the last Vulcan to fly as an RAF aircraft in 1992 before being restored and returning to service in 2008.

  1. Transition to “Hibernation”: The Vulcan has been moved to storage at Doncaster Sheffield airport after its flying permit expired 18 months ago. This move is described as “hibernation” as the aircraft awaits future plans for public display.
  2. Visitor Attraction Plans: The Vulcan To The Sky Trust, responsible for restoring and maintaining XH558, had plans to create a visitor attraction around the aircraft. These plans included opening its engines periodically for taxi runs. However, increased cargo traffic at the airport necessitated the aircraft’s relocation.

  1. Financial Challenges: The Trust faces financial difficulties due to halted public tours and events, resulting in a significant drop in income. The current storage and maintenance costs around £200,000, with funding efforts ongoing.
  2. Future Plans: Despite setbacks, Trust CEO Robert Pleming remains hopeful about the future. Plans are underway to develop a purpose-built visitor center at a former RAF base, which is expected to be operational in about a year.

  1. Emotional Impact: The decision to reduce the Trust’s team and suspend public tours has had an emotional impact on staff and volunteers who supported the project.
  2. Historical Significance: XH558 played a crucial role during the Cold War era and participated in significant missions, including the Falklands War in 1982.
  3. Airport Collaboration: Doncaster Sheffield airport has been supportive, providing free storage until April and collaborating on plans for a new hangar to house the Vulcan for public viewing.

In summary, the article reflects the challenges faced by the Vulcan To The Sky Trust in maintaining and displaying XH558, a historic aircraft with significant cultural and historical value. Despite setbacks, there is optimism about future plans to preserve and showcase this iconic Cold War relic to the public.

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