There are a few pieces of engineering creation that always bring out an emotional response. Steam Engines. The Supermarine Spitfire. Concorde. Ridiculously large bridges. The Avro Vulcan.
So imagine my surprise two weekends ago when I was quietly reading a book in my living room, when I heard a plane approach. We often get the odd aircraft go past, the kitkat air balloons, gliders from the local club and the occasional wing of attack helicopters, but this roar was bigger than anything I’d heard before. I glaced out of the window and saw a large delta wing rumble into view over the tops of the trees. There was a moment when I just could not believe my eyes, whilst the Vulcan is unique and instantly recognisable, it was just too unlikely to be flying over my house. Luckily, my camera was only in the next room so I was able to lunge for it and then outside where I held down the ‘take a photo of this’ button until it was out of sight. It was probably all over within 15 seconds.
I did a bit of reading around, because XH558 is limited to Visual Flight Rules, it’s easily low enough over the ground for the crew to tweet using a mobile phone. It turns out I was under their route from their base at RAF Brize Norton to a show at RAF Leuchars in Scotland.
The Sunday afterwards, they obligingly flew back again on their way home! Remarkably, they must have been within about 50m of their original course, which seems an unnecessarily good piece of navigating.
It’s unusual that something can shock me, I’ll take in most things my stride, but I have no shame in admitting to a few giggly aftershocks whilst it soaked in 🙂
The charitable trust that operates XH558 is always on the look out for donations, it costs on the order of £19,000 per hour to fly, so why not join the growing number of people who contribute towards this piece of our country’s heritage.
To learn a bit more about why this plane is seen by some as heroic, I can recommend reading about XM-607’s trip to the Falklands and back. Or if you fancy a laugh, there’s a Haynes Manual on the subject too