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VULCAN AVIATION ACADEMY AND HERITAGE CENTRE:
PRESS RELEASE 17th February 2015.
Vulcan to the Sky Trust and Aviation Skills Partnership launch Vulcan Aviation Academy and Heritage Centre - New state of the art facility will provide a centre of excellence to the aviation industry for education and skills training, delivered in partnership with the region’s education groups and local authorities.
The Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) and Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP) have moved quickly to cement their new partnership by launching plans to create the Vulcan Aviation Academy and Heritage Centre at the home of the last flying Avro Vulcan – Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. The concept is supported by a core group of founding partners which, alongside the main partners of VTST and ASP includes Peel Airports Group, Doncaster College and University Centre, Skypeople, Aviation Shake, The Spirit of Goole/Light Aircraft Association Educational Trust, Bond Bryan, NPS Group and WT Partnership.
The need for such a facility was originally identified by VTST and ASP after discussions on ways that the legacy of the Vulcan could be delivered and utilised to inspire the next generation of engineers and aviators. ASP’s solution in the form of one of their new Aviation Skills Hubs follows similar projects of theirs at Norwich in the form of the Norwich International Aviation Academy and at other locations. The Academy concept is one of a centre for aviation skills across ASP’s six areas of aviation: pilot, air traffic, airport operations, operations, crew and aviation engineering. Through creating a ‘real world’ learning environment that includes plans for a fully representative and ‘live’ full size aeroplane and using innovative teaching techniques, the Academy will raise the standards of learning within the aviation industry, while offering a broad education that will attract both local, national and international students. Initially focusing on training up to 80 new aviation engineers per year and starting from the age of 14, it will also include cabin crew and airport operations training.
From a regional and airport perspective, the partnering with the Vulcan team is key in focusing activity and ensuring that the Academy enhances and expands existing skills in the region and training operations on the Airport. The Vulcan Aviation Academy will form a vital part of the strategy as it will enhance the region’s reputation and lead the training and development of the next generation of aviation professionals. The partners intend that the Academy will inspire individuals to become highly skilled in their chosen field and be ready to take on leadership and expert roles in the aviation community locally, nationally and throughout the world.
Dr Robert Pleming, Chief Executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust said “We have set out from the start to create a lasting legacy for the Vulcan by planning for the day when the aircraft will have to cease flying. One of our key legacy strands has been to inspire a new generation of aviation people through connecting them with the achievements of the past. This project delivers exactly that and we are pleased to partner with ASP to steer this project to meet the expectations of our many supporters and sponsors, without whom we wouldn’t be flying at all”.
XH558 will have access to the runway in her proposed new home that will also act as an educational and visitor attraction in its own right.
Simon Witts, Founder and Chief Executive of Aviation Skills Partnership said “We are proud to be partnered with VTST and this iconic aircraft. We need to inspire a new generation of people into the aviation industry and reset the bar in terms of what can be achieved in the industry when people set their minds to it – the Vulcan is one of those aircraft that causes marvel and excitement wherever it flies but, of course, it relied on a small group of skilled and creative people to move the project to reality with the first flight only eleven years after that of the Lancaster. Whether civil or military, aeroplane or rotorcraft, large or small we need people with the right skills entering the industry. “
Said local MP Caroline Flint: “The Vulcan Aviation Academy is set to be a unique project. The combination of developing skills with visitor appeal and a link to our aviation history makes this project very special. I hope there will be lots of commercial interest and I look forward to the plans developing.”
George Trow, Principal and Chief Executive of Doncaster College and University Centre said “There are certainly some exciting times ahead for Doncaster. The past through the Vulcan will meet the present and by partnership working with the Aviation Academy, Doncaster College and University Centre will influence the future. We are delighted and excited to be part of this project.”
Further details of the project can be found via vulcanaviationacademy.com or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Article taken from the Vulcan to the sky club magazine Autumn edition by FODSA/Vulcantotheskyclub member Maurice Long:
Thanks to Lee Broadbent & Mark Freshney Editorial/Design Team Vulcantotheskyclub for their kind permission.
The last flying Vulcan returns to her original cold-war hangar
to be the centrepiece for new
events, education and engineering centres:
The last flying Vulcan has moved into Hangar 3 at Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield, the historic site of former RAF Finningley. For the first time, this much-loved aircraft will have a dedicated home, open to the public and available for private and commercial events. Plans are also being laid down for a facility for skills development, using the inspirational nature of the Vulcan to provide training and team building for engineering companies. In the longer term, a world leading centre of expertise for the restoration and operation of heritage jet aircraft will also be developed.
“This is one of the biggest steps for Vulcan XH558 since her return to flight in 2007. It brings a new era of opportunities that will help to fund her future and provide new levels of access for her supporters,” said Vulcan to the Sky Trust CEO, Dr Robert Pleming. “These are early days in deciding exactly what facilities will be included. Developing the funding and detailed plans needed to turn our ideas into reality will take some time, but I am thrilled to be able to share our vision at this stage.”
Hangar 3 is one of the airport’s crescent of Type C hangars built in 1935 and adapted from 1955-57 to take the RAF’s new V-Bombers. All three V-Force types were based at the airfield – Valiant, Victor and Vulcan – including XH558 from 1960 to 1968. During this period, Vulcans stood on Quick Reaction Alert, ready to take off in just a couple of minutes in response to the detection of a potential nuclear attack, carrying Britain’s nuclear deterrent deep into enemy territory. The original architecture, bomb-stores and even the aircraft holding pans are all well preserved, making this the ideal location for the new visitor centre and a uniquely evocative location for education and events.
Because the Vulcan has been based at military airfields for the last two years, providing public access has been challenging. The top priority for her new home is therefore to provide visitor facilities. Initially, this will be by pre-booked tours, including visits by local schools through the educational outreach programme. The facility will be progressively developed to provide a visitor centre with a retail store and educational displays covering XH558’s technology and restoration, and an insight into the Cold War; “A critical but increasingly overlooked period in World History, with many lessons relevant to today,” according to Dr. Pleming. These facilities will continue to expand to eventually create an important new visitor attraction for Yorkshire, which is already independently recognised as one of Europe’s most successful tourist destinations.
The fabulous Hangar 3 location will also provide an outstanding new events and hospitality venue, professionally-managed by Directions Community Interest Company, which facilitates all activities associated with Hangar 3 and Hangar 2. With staging, lighting, catering, audio visual facilities and flexible seating for up to 300 around the Vulcan, it will provide a unique and powerful venue for private and corporate events, and for smaller VIP parties which can also include a tour of the aircraft. Vulcan celebrity speakers, including aircrew, can be arranged.
Ideas are also in development for an engineering skills centre that will build on the presence of XH558 and her technical team to provide inspirational training experiences for apprentices and young engineers. “Initial reaction from industry has been superb, with suggestions and offers of help in setting up courses and providing expertise,” says technical director Andrew Edmondson. “We would like to talk to any company that may find it useful to offer a truly inspiring environment for team building and basic training in areas that may include project management, audit, craft and trade skills, compliance and potentially a lot more. I’d like to understand your needs so we can evolve this unique resource to help satisfy them in an inspiring way.”
Andrew Edmondson is best known as the engineering leader who, under the guidance of Robert Pleming, successfully completed the world’s most ambitious aviation heritage project when XH558 returned to the skies in 2007. He is also playing a key role in negotiations with the Civil Aviation Authority, with whom he is working to revise airworthiness requirements for the Complex category of ex-military aircraft. Pleming believes that the experience of Edmondson and his team, which today ensures that XH558 is more reliable than many military aircraft, has given Vulcan to the Sky Trust the world’s most complete expertise in the restoration, maintenance and safe operation of classic heritage jets. This knowledge, together with the workshop resources of the Vulcan to the Sky technical crew, will be made available to those who are operating the growing number of privately owned ex-military heritage jet aircraft.
“We are reaching a period where there are an increasing number of ex-military jets available for private ownership and operation, ranging from relatively simple trainers to more sophisticated multi-engined aircraft. Running them is a completely different proposition to operating say a Spitfire, or even an early jet like a Hunter,” says Edmondson. “We can help solve that challenge, advising on what is possible, developing and implementing restoration plans and providing maintenance and operational management within an approved quality system, to the world’s highest safety standards.”
”The new centre will help to keep many more of these wonderful vintage aircraft alive and safe, providing enjoyment for generations to come,” concludes Edmondson.
Highlighting the substantial step between the Vulcan and its immediate predecessor the Avro Lancaster, Dr. Pleming notes the contribution made by its designers. “We always think of the pilots and crew as the heroes and yes they are, their skills and bravery are an example to us all. But their achievements wouldn’t be possible without the incredible talents of the engineers whose genius, imagination and dedication allows us to do things that just a few years earlier would have been impossible,” says Dr. Pleming. “The various inspirational aspects of the new Vulcan facility will place these remarkable people alongside the aircrew as our heroes and role models, to inspire the next generation of engineers and aviators.”
Peel Airports, which operates Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport, sees the opportunities that the Vulcan offers for the airport, for the region and for XH558’s supporters. “Having the last flying example operating from ‘the home of the V-Force’, in the town that also hosted Britain’s first airshow, is a fabulous tribute to the men and women who were based here when the airfield played a key strategic role in Britain’s defences,” “Peel Airports is committed to developing all aspects of aviation activity at the airport and is delighted to be able to provide a home for this inspirational historic aircraft at what is today a modern commercial airport.”
How to help the Vulcan fly:
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The last flying Vulcan receives no funding from the RAF or from Government. She is almost entirely dependent on public support. To find out how to help keep her flying, visit www.vulcantothesky.org where there is also a history of the aircraft and a wide range of Vulcan merchandise including the beautifully-illustrated 50th Anniversary book and a limited number of the highly-regarded account of the Falklands mission, Vulcan 607, signed by Black Buck 1, squadron leader Martin Withers DFC.
Why is the Vulcan Important?
The Avro Vulcan is an iconic example of British aerospace engineering at its world-beating best. The design brief was issued by the MoD in 1946 and the aircraft flew for the first time in 1952, just eleven years after the first flight of its predecessor, the Avro Lancaster. Its impressive list of technical achievements includes being the first successful large delta wing aircraft (leading directly to Concorde), innovations such as electrically-powered flying controls, one of the first applications of anti-lock brakes, and an agility that was so close to a jet fighter’s that it was given a fighter-style control column in place of the traditional bomber pilot’s yoke.
Success as a Cold War peacekeeper meant that the Vulcan might have flown its entire service life without ever entering combat if it hadn’t been for the Falklands Conflict in 1982. During a marathon 8,000 mile flight supported by eleven Victor tankers, Squadron Leader Martin Withers and his crew released the bombs over Port Stanley Airport that prevented Argentina operating its Mirage III fighters from the island and initiated the campaign that recaptured the Falklands. Two years later, the last Vulcans were withdrawn from service.
Today, only one Vulcan is left flying: XH558, owned by the Vulcan To The Sky Trust, a Registered Charity. Returned to the air in 2007, she has become an airshow phenomenon. “People forget that airshows attract seven million people annually. That’s second only to football,” says Dr Pleming. “An appearance by the Vulcan builds even on this remarkable level, typically increasing attendance by 20-40 percent. Airshow organisers talk about ‘the Vulcan Effect’ and have described the aircraft as a national treasure.”
Squadron Leader Martin Withers DFC (he won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic Vulcan mission to Port Stanley) is a passionate supporter of the educational role of the plane. “Part of our mission is to ensure that young people learn about the knife-edge fear of the Cold War,” he explains. “If I had been ordered to press the button that release the nuclear payload over our enemy, there would almost certainly have been no Britain left to fly home to. The Vulcan is the most powerful symbol of a remarkable period in British history that we must never forget”
Withers is also passionate about the aircraft’s growing role in technical education. “This is one of the most iconic pieces of aerospace technology ever, and it is thoroughly British. The Vulcan fires young people with a passion to develop and build world-beating technologies. And we can help give them those skills through training modules that call upon the extraordinary knowledge, rigour and precision needed to restore and maintain the UK’s only flying ‘complex’ heritage aircraft.”
The Trust hopes to fly the aircraft for a few more years yet “The airframe has limited time before it will no longer be possible to renew its Permit to Fly,” explains Dr Pleming. “After that, we hope to develop a museum and educational centre around the plane, funded by conference, leisure and other commercial activities.”
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