Friday, 31 July 2015

Vulcan Spotting in June

During the month of June there were several opportunities, outside of the regular larger airshows to see Vulcan XH558 fly, sometimes even perform a full or partial display. 

It started with the partial display at Leicester Airport on June 14th when 558 was on her way to the Shropshire area of the UK for three displays, the final one of that trio being at the RAF Cosford Air Display. 

The second opportunity was the following weekend at the Wings & Wheels event at Wellesbourne in Warwickshire where the resident Vulcan XM655 guys laid on an excellent day with XM655 performing two short taxi runs. 
And then finally on the following Saturday when XH558 overflew all remaining V-Bomber airframes in the southern part of the UK as part of her two-day "Tribute to the V-Force".
What follows is a selection of the photographs I managed to take to record these sightings.

14 June 2015 - Leicester Airport - Pre-show Practice

The first thing to note is that the day was pretty dismal weather wise making photography a bit of a challenge, but at least it was dry. As Vulcan XH558 is limited to 17,000ft she cannot be flown above weather systems, but the skilful pilots that operate here can flew here between weather systems and this was one such day.

With the Vulcan XH558 app on my phone I could track not the aircraft from take-off to approaching the airport and the hoped for full display was cut short with dark rain-bearing clouds moved in quickly in the stiff breeze. We saw four passes in total, one of which with everything down (landing gear) and out (unique air brakes) before this iconic machine disappeared westward for her first true engagement of the day.

First Pass at Leicester Airport

Passing over the gathered crowd and the Leicester Airport control tower with an almost 90 degree bank on

Final pass over Leicester Airport

21 June 2015 - Wings & Wheels, Wellesbourne

Fathers Day was a warmish sunny day with a bit of a south westerly breeze. 
The centrepiece of the day was undoubtedly Vulcan XM655, which is said to be the most authentic Vulcan in the country with its unaltered cockpit and its original Olympus 300 series engines that produces that characteristic elephantine roar, which is much reduced for XH558 with its lower powered Olympus 200 series power.
It being a Wings & Wheels day there were a small number of other aircraft as well as a large number of vintage vehicles.
Vulcan XH558 was also due to perform a full display, which effectively close the flying element of the day's flying activities. In that lay a photographer's challenge, the sun being opposite the display line late in the afternoon. Not ideal, but perhaps scope for some unusual imagery.
Let's start with three of the vehicles that caught my eye

 Now for some of the aircraft on static display
Unusual Cessna on floats

Piper PA-28 Warrior of the British Airways flight training school

Beautiful De havilland DH-89 Dragon Rapide in Scillonia Airways colours

Equally beautiful DH-82A Tiger Moth

Hangar 11's Peter Teichman starts Spitfire PR11 after a brief visit to Wellesbourne for the flight home

Spitfire PR11 takes off to return to North Weald
The Rolls Royce Spitfire PR19 performed a spirited display
A formation take-off by these ex-RAF Bulldog trainers.
North American T-6 Harvard takes off for its display slot
Yak-11 Moose leaves the Wellesbourne Tarmac for its journey home

Not part of the Wings & Wheels event, this lovely Bell 47 made several flights during the day
Baginton-based DH-89 made several pleasure flights during the day
Vulcan XM655 starts her first performance of the day
The uniquely configured air brakes are clearly visible in this view
Slow taxy past the assembled crowds

Briefly the nose wheel leaves the runway surface
XM655 slowly taxies back to it parking spot after
And finally, at the end of the afternoon, Vulcan to the Sky's Avro Vulcan XH558 provides its own unique show. Not as spectacular a show as where she actually takes off at the venue, but still very impressive.

Avro Vulcan XH558 arrives overhead Wellesbourne at the start of her display sequence

With her shiny finish light reflecting from her under surfaces add to XH558's photogenic appearance 

Birds of a different Feather

Steep turn to port
Turning onto the display line for a pass with undercarriage down
Slow dirty pass

Main undercarriage retracting

28 June 2015 - Tribute to V-Force Tour, Coventry Airport

Coming from the direction of Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire, Avro Vulcan XH558 made two passes over Coventry Airport before making its way further down the country to Wellesbourne and beyond. The next five pictures show her arriving for her first pass (the first two pictures) and departing after her second pass (last three pictures).

As most readers will be aware, Avro Vulcan XH558 will be making its final flight at the end of the 2015 display season and bookings for her to attend different airshows and other venues are still coming in to the office of the Trust that operate her.  If you have not see XH558 flying yet this year there will be two local opportunities in September, the first of which will be on Sunday 6 September at the Victory Show at Cosby in Leicestershire and the following Sunday 13 September 2015 at Coventry Airport.
For other venues consult the Vulcan to the Sky's website:

31 July 2015
Theo Claassen