Vulcan bomber celebrated at Leicestershire airfield

Media caption,
Footage shows last Vulcan bomber flypast

Celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of a Vulcan bomber's last RAF flight are set to take place at an airfield in Leicestershire.

The bomber was retired in 1993 but took part in flypasts until 2015 after years of restoration at Bruntingthorpe.

The event at the airfield will explain how the "people's aircraft" was saved from the "scrap man".

Vulcan XH558 is based at Doncaster Sheffield Airport ahead of becoming the centrepiece of a new visitor centre.

Image source, Charles Toop
Image caption,
Vulcan bomber XH558 arrives at Bruntingthorpe on 23 March 1993

Richard Clarke, from Leicestershire-based charity Vulcan to the Sky Trust, which maintained and operated the aircraft, said the bomber has always been the "people's aircraft".

"It's got that delta wing shape, like Concorde or the space shuttles, and it tugs at people's heartstrings when they see it flying," he said.

"Up close, people like to touch it, it might sound crazy but they see it as a person, almost."

Image source, Charles Toop
Image caption,
The Vulcan flies over RAF Waddington in 1992

Mr Clarke estimated that about 24 million people saw XH558 in flight across the UK until it was grounded in 2015.

It cost about £24m in restoration, maintenance, insurance and to fly over the same period, he said.

However, those years of joy for enthusiasts almost did not happen after the RAF put it out to tender in 1993, leaving the possibility it could be sold for scrap.

Image source, Jamie Ewan
Image caption,
The XH558 on the Bruntingthorpe runway in 2015

Businessman David Walton was the successful bidder and planned to keep the Vulcan in "live condition" unlike many of the other retired models.

"There would have been a big hullabaloo had it gone to scrap," said Mr Clarke.

The aircraft, which has caused "grown men to cry", was restored in Bruntingthorpe, with much of the funding coming from public donations and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

However, the bomber had to be grounded in 2015 after technical backers withdrew support - it was the last flying Vulcan.

The event, from 11:30 GMT until 15:30, will allow visitors to tour the airfield and meet the final crew of the Vulcan.

Image source, John Dibbs
Image caption,
The Vulcan over the Solent in 2015

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