No more to the sky
Hidden away in the deletions is one of the icons of British Aviation, Avro Vulcan G-VLCN. It was built in 1960 as XH558, part of the UK’S ‘V-bomber’ nuclear deterrent carrying the Blue Steel stand-off missile. When, in the 1970s, this role was usurped by the Royal Navy’s Polaris submarines, XH558 was converted for maritime reconnaissance and then to an air-toair refuelling tanker. Ironically, it was a bird strike which led to an engine explosion damaging the wing which secured its future. Its grounding meant it had by far the fewest hours when an aircraft for the RAF Vulcan Display Flight was chosen. When this was disbanded it spent eight years grounded before public donations and lottery funding allowed the Vulcan to the Sky Trust to restore it. Component lifetimes were eked out as long as possible but its last flight was in October 2015.