October 28th 2016: Vulcan to the Sky Trust chief executive Dr. Robert Pleming explains some important changes
XH558 retired from flight in 2015, but we need to continue to safeguard the aircraft and keep her in the best possible ground-running condition for all to enjoy. Once she is secure, the Trust will once again look at other heritage jet projects.
In August, we were informed that Doncaster Sheffield Airport was in need of additional cargo handling space and that as a result, the Trust would need to move its operations from Hangar 3 to a smaller space in nearby Hangar 1. Following a period of protracted negotiations, it has been agreed that this will happen at the end of 2016. We have decided to take this opportunity to scale-back our activities.
By cutting our financial commitments, we are aiming to ensure a sustainable future, but this does mean that in the short term, we are urgently in need of funds to ensure that XH558 continues to be maintained in superb ground-running condition, for all to enjoy. We have now successfully completed a trial taxi run and are looking forward to many more runs with you, her supporters, nearby to enjoy the sounds, smells and excitement of a Vulcan accelerating hard along the runway.
“For the time being, all our resources will be focussed on XH558”
I am sure you are asking why this transformation is necessary. Since the final flight, we have welcomed more than 18,000 people to Hangar 3, and hosted many spectacular events. However the truth is that whilst some of our revenue streams, for example the Vulcan Experience tours and our retail sales, have exceeded expectations, others, such as the renting-out of space in the hangar, have not met targets. The move to Hangar 1 gives us an opportunity to reshape the Trust around reduced financial commitments, across almost every area of our operations except the expert care we lavish on XH558.
The short term challenge is that the lack of facilities in Hangar 1 will make it difficult to continue our cash-generating businesses until we have the funds to invest. Adding the costs of physically moving everything from an environment where we are well-established, means that the need for immediate funding is critical.
We intend to cut the Trust’s financial commitments by around 30%, putting the Trust on to a more sustainable basis for the future. All our resources will now be focussed on XH558.
The Trust has come a long way since the return-to-flight of XH558 began 20 years ago. We have completed a complex technical restoration that many people said would be impossible, we have thrilled more than two million people a year with a wonderful aircraft, and for eight spectacular seasons, we have flown her with a flawless safety record. The award-winning team that made it happen has become widely regarded as setting the benchmark for the restoration, maintenance and operation of heritage jets.
As you know, our next objective was to achieve the same success with another iconic aircraft, the record-breaking Canberra WK163. Unfortunately, the ambition to return this remarkable example of British technical and aviation achievement to the skies has so far attracted less support than we had anticipated. As part of the Transformation of Vulcan to the Sky Trust, we will set up the Canberra Restoration Project as an independent activity with its own fund-raising campaign, but this means that our ambition to return WK163 to British airshows in time for the RAF Centenary celebrations in 2018 may not now be possible.”
Only when XH558’s care is secured for the long-term will we continue to develop Vulcan to the Sky Trust into a world-class guardian of British jet-age aircraft.
If you are able to help make this transformation happen, you will be helping to ensure the protection and maintenance of Vulcan XH558 into the future. We have put together a series of impressive rewards for those who do help, which you can choose from the following link.
Your Transformation Rewards for helping to protect Vulcan XH558
Every donation is valuable and will help to secure XH558’s future. If you pay UK income tax, every £1 you donate could be increased to £1.25 of support for XH558 through the government’s Gift Aid scheme, which we will arrange at no cost to you.
Donations of £20 or more will also be rewarded with a personalised Transformation Certificate displaying your name (or that of a loved one) to mark your contribution to this important project.
At higher levels, you will also receive other awards in addition to the personalised Transformation Certificate. These include a colourful car sticker featuring XH558, plus your choice from a selection of spectacular high resolution photographs of her taken by the world’s leading aviation photographers, including a spectacular air-to-air shot.
At the Silver and Gold levels, you will also receive a specially-designed Transformation pin badge and your chosen photograph will discreetly display your level of support, making it ideal for display at home or at work. If you select the highest level, your picture will be signed by Martin Withers, XH558 pilot and captain of Falklands ‘Vulcan 607’.
For those able to support at the highest level, we are planning a memorable gala dinner, around our two aircraft in their new home, so you can be amongst the first to experience this new environment and discuss it, and future plans, with our senior team.
If you prefer to forego your rewards, you also have that option. Donation levels do not include any amount that can be reclaimed via Gift Aid.
CLICK HERE to see the Transformation Portfolio and choose your rewards.
If you know anyone who may also like to help secure the protection and maintenance of Vulcan XH558, do please let them know about the Trust’s Transformation and encourage them to sign-up for the free email newsletter or to join our Facebook community, where we have just posted wonderful pictures and memories from her final year of flight.