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Vulcan Display Flight


The original aircraft of the Vulcan Display Team (VDT) or Vulcan Display Flight (VDF) - depending on who you talk to - was XL426, which now resides on the perimeter of Southend airport. However in 1986 it was decided that Vulcan XH558 should be given the honour of display aircraft as she had the greatest number of flying hours left before needing a major overhaul.

The VDF worked on a purely volunteer basis. Each 
April the Ministry of Defence (MOD) participation 
committee would issue a list of air shows that XH558
 would be able to appear at. It was vitally important that all 
the air shows which the Vulcan was to attend ran to time. A few minutes delay would often mean a rush to the next 
venue which could cause fuel problems as the display aircraft only carried a small amount of fuel so as 
to be able to "perform" better.

As the display Vulcan was representative of all Vulcan 
squadrons it was painted with the insignia of No. 1 Group 
(A black panther's head). This symbol was used when
 the Vulcan was taking part in military bombing exercises 
and prevented "squabbling" between
 the different RAF squadrons!

Each display was similar in format.  

Below are diagrams showing 
the path of the aircraft with notes to aid clarity.




Arrival from the left


tear drop away from crowd

Second fly past from right

left hand steep turn

Left hand steep turn 500 ft

tear drop away from crowd

U/C down,
air brakes extended


Tear drop straight ahead

Under carriage up and A/B in


Left hand steep turn

Bomb doors open


Tear drop away from crowd

Seventh fly past (low level)

Right hand climbing turn.

Climbing turn to depart






Unfortunately, the story of the VDT is ultimately a sad one. 
Although XH558 was one of the most eagerly anticipated 
aircraft at any airshow she visited, the MOD ruled that the VDT would cease flying and that the aircraft would be put up for tender.

Thousands of signatures were collected in order to try and 
persuade the MOD to re-think its decision but, on 
Sunday 20th September 1992 at the Cranfield Dreamflight air show, XH558 performed her last RAF display. The ground crew had painted FAREWELL onto the inside of her bomb doors, and emotions ran high as XH558 completed her final circuit and came into land.

XH558 was sold to a private owner and took part in her 
last flight to Bruntingthorpe on the 23rd of March 1993. 

It has taken over 15 years to restore XH558 to air-worthy condition.

Eager crowds are expecting to see the beautiful delta shape and hear the chest-thumping roar of Olympus engines when they visit their air displays in the 2008 season. Congratulations, and hearty thanks, need to go to Dr Robert Plemming and his team, without whom there would be no more Vulcan air displays.

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