Vulcan over Audlem

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Aircraft enthusiasts had a real thrill as the only Vulcan bomber flying today passed over the village on Saturday around 3.00pm. Shane Thomson first contacted Audlem Online with the news — see Chatbox.

Since then, several other Chatbox contributors have confirmed the sighting. J & S Hemmings wrote: "Yes, wonderful sighting over Hankelow. Nice and low and appeared remarkably slow in transit — fantastic to see and the only one flying, we believe?"

'Jam' said: "Yes — we saw it too! And I was talking to a helicopter pilot who also saw it. It was followed a short time later by two smaller planes."

Peter Oxley adds: "Marina and I witnessed it as we cycled back from Burleydam at 3.00pm on Saturday. We stopped and watched it fly over to Hawarden near Chester, to do a private (arranged) display with 3 circuits before heading back to base. On Sunday afternoon, at about 4.00pm, the Blades aerobatic display team also overflew the village on their way back from the Northern Ireland International Air Show, where they had been displaying on Saturday. It's like being at Farnborough here!"

The plane involved, XH558, was the last Vulcan to leave RAF service, flying on from 1986 to 1993 as the single RAF Display Vulcan, a career of 33 years. Her final RAF flight was on 23rd March 1993 to Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome in Leicestershire, having been sold off by the Ministry of Defence to C Walton Ltd, a family firm who purchased and maintained her, with the thought that one day, she might be returned to fight.

Enthusiastic teamIn 1997, a small team started to put together an audacious plan to return her to flight, but it was clear from the start that the project would be technically challenging and enormously expensive. Never deterred, the team set off down the path that led to XH558's return to the air.

On 31st August 2006, XH558 rolled out of the hangar for the first time in 7 years. This had coincided with an critical funding crisis, but Vulcan To The Sky Trust, through the enthusiasm of XH558's supporters, managed to raise over £1.3million, and later much more funding, to save the project.

After extensive tests, Vulcan XH558 roared into the air again in October 2007 and was finally granted her Permit to Fly on 3rd July 2008, and returned to air displays two days later at a packed RAF Waddington Airshow, her former home. There was not a dry eye on the airfield!


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