Today sees the final flight of the XH558 Vulcan, which is finally being grounded after decades in the air
This Vulcan is the same aircraft that played a role in what has been described as the worlds longest bombing mission, when it took off from the UK in 1982 and flew nonstop to the Falklands and dropped bombs on the runway at Port Stanley to ensure that the Argentine air force was grounded, the 15,000 mile trip was only just made possible, with several in air refuelling .
Aviation fans are keen to catch the sight of the plane which will include several Kent towns in a flypast later today.
On the route are Gravesend, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Manston, Dover and Ashford. It will also fly over the Isle of Sheppey, the birthplace of British aviation.
12.50 Doncaster (Takeoff)
13.00 Waddington
13.05 Rutland Water
13.15 North Weald
13.25 Gravesend
13.30 Whitstable
13.35 Herne Bay
13.40 Manston
13.45 Dover
13.50 Ashford
In a statement earlier this week, Vulcan to the Sky, the charity that has kept the XH558 bomber in the air, said the three main companies responsible for various vital systems on the plane have withdrawn their support after this year.
The charity said: “Unfortunately, having evaluated a great many factors, the three expert companies on whom we depend – BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Rolls-Royce – have collectively decided to cease their support at the end of this flying season.
“Without that support, under Civil Aviation Authority regulations, we are prohibited from flying.
“At the heart of their decision are two factors. First, although we are all confident that XH558 is currently as safe as any aircraft flying today, her structure and systems are already more than ten percent beyond the flying hours of any other Vulcan, so knowing where to look for any possible failure will become gradually more difficult.
“Second, maintaining her superb safety record requires expertise that is increasingly difficult to find.
“Our technical partners already bring specialists out of retirement specifically to work on XH558; a solution that is increasingly impractical for those businesses as the necessary skills and knowledge become distant in their collective memories.”
The Vulcan which uses the same Rolls Royce Olympus engines as the ones used in Concord, makes an astonishing sound as this heavyweight bomber climbs into the sky a sight and sound that you will probably never see again after today.