#SundayReview Last Flight of the Vulcan Bomber
I had planned to review X-Men: Apocalypse this week, but due to software issues, I’ve decided to review a television program I watched while trying to fix my laptop. Not many know that I am a transport enthusiast. I love cars, trains and aircraft of all designs. My favourite aircraft of all, is the Avro Vulcan bomber. There is a grounded Vulcan in the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune airfield, East Lothian, as well as a Concorde and several hangers filled with amazing machines. Tonight I watched a repeat showing of Guy Martin: Last Flight of the Vulcan Bomber. I’d seen it when it first aired, but it was just as enjoyable second time around.
The show followed the final flight of the Vulcan bomber–XH588–which was the last airworthy Vulcan left in the world. She had a dedicated team who maintained her; a dying breed of mechanics who knew the ins-and-outs of every part of XH588, and quite obviously loved the beast.
Guy Martin spent time with the team as they prepared XH588 for flight. It was to be her final flight; a journey which would take her the length of the UK to fly past pre-determined landmarks. The farewell tour was well advertised, and many people showed up at the landmarks to see this amazing beauty fly past. We got to see Guy in a side formation with the Vulcan and a spitfire. Seeing the two craft so close, the hearty Spitfire looked tiny. Yet the Spitfire still flies and now, the Vulcan does not. Guy answers the question as to why the Vulcan was to be decommissioned while the older Spitfire remains active in the skies. Quite simply, it was down to cost and the depleting force of specialised mechanics left to keep her running.
The majority of the show was about getting the bomber ready for the final flight. Guy–a rough-at-the-edges motorcycle racer, was almost beside himself with glee. It was great to watch the excitement and anticipation flicker over his face whenever he looked at the bomber or helped tighten a bolt or fix a wire connection. He seemed as excited as I was when I first stood next to the big one in East Fortune, but he was able to touch it, work on it, get inside and scramble about it–something I’ve always wanted to do. All the way through the show, you could see the wonder in Guy’s eyes and respect for those who kept XH588 in top condition. I like Guy, he is down-to-earth and not scared to try things, as was seen when he taxied a Vulcan on the runway!
Not only did we get to see so much of this magnificent war machine, we were also given the opportunity to understand what it was like to be part of a Vulcan crew. Throughout the show we were introduced to the crew of XH588 and other Vulcan crewman. They spoke of their experiences with the bomber, what it was like to fly her and why their elite team were regarded with such respect. It was interesting to see so many people become emotional about a great hunk of flying metal, but this is what the Vulcan does to people.
By the end of the show, we saw XH588 towed out of her hanger on a foggy morning with doubts she would fly at all due to the weather. Despite this, her crew checked her from top to bottom, filled her with fuel and got her ready regardless. It was obvious they were all both proud and sad. They had maintained the bomber for so long, it looked as if they were saying goodbye to a friend or family member, especially when the weather cleared and XH588 was handed over to her flight crew.
When she took off, her screaming engines powering her gracefully in to the blue sky, my heart was hammering in my chest. To see her take that final flight was both beautiful and heartbreaking. As she flew over hills and cities alike, the camera caught sight of her delta-winged shadow swiftly moving over the ground. It reminded us that it would never slip over the landscape again.
Guy Martin showed us sides to the aircraft we could only dream to see, and every moment of the show, you felt you were there with him enjoying every second of contact with the machine. I will always love the Vulcan. I have other favourites aircraft, but will always regard the Avro Vulcan bomber as the most beautiful and much loved fighter planes in the world. The program is well worth a watch if you can find it!
F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE
Posted on May 29, 2016, in #SundayReview, Frankeh Updates, Updates and tagged airforce, aviation, avro, Avro Vulcan Bomber, bomber, enthusiast, excited, fandom, final, flight, Frankie, Guy Martins, Happy, journey, last flight, RAF, review, skies, television, transport, vlog, vulcan, vulcna bomber, XH588. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.