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VX770 - First Flight

by Ian Homer. Posted to category: General

30th August 1952

First Flight of the Vulcan Prototype – VX770 in 1952

 Next Wednesday 30th August sees the 65th Anniversary of the Vulcan prototype’s maiden flight.

A ground running image of Type 698 prototype VX770 on the runway at Woodford.

(Courtesy of )

The very first sight of Avro Type 698 VX770 as it takes to the air on 30th August 1952, piloted by Roly Falk. 

Our Avro Vulcan Diamond Jubilee book featured an account of that day by Peter Caldwell, an Avro employee.

The production of the Type 698 continued apace. The fuselage had arrived in the Flight Sheds and the first prototype, VX770 was ready for flight by August 1952. Among the many pre-flight tests, we played our part with the fuel system which for the initial flight was only using the long range bomb-bay tanks. It must be shown that it is possible to deliver 1.25 times the maximum take-off flow rate to each engine with a fuel pressure of at least 5 p.s.i. at the engine inlet in all configurations of direct and cross feeding. Engines were simulated by pumps passing fuel through a type of flow-meter. When the full fuel system was subsequently used and tested by our department the initial tests took four days and nights without a break, testing in all possible configurations of direct and cross feeding. We took it in turns to go home for a few hours. 

The day arrived for the initial flight which was planned for the evening and most of us stayed behind to watch the momentous event. The large white aircraft with its futuristic shape stood on the apron in all its glory and the chief test pilot, Roly Falk, sat in an Armstrong Siddeley car, with whose makers Avro were then associated, waiting for the finishing touches to be completed. He was accompanied by one of the directors and I recall that both men wore pin-striped suits which turned out to be the standard attire of this Chief Test Pilot in addition to his helmet. Other dignitaries were there, including Sir Roy Dobson, the Managing Director. Eventually, Roly donned his helmet and boarded the aircraft. Engines were started and away he taxied. To our disappointment, all we were treated to was a couple of fast taxies before dusk turned to dark, and we all went home.


This is an extract from our Avro 60th Anniversary book – available here:

The following day being Saturday, I decided to go in, but instead of going across to the Flight Sheds, I sat on an old air-raid shelter which gave me a pretty good view of the runway. I saw the aircraft come onto the runway, and gain speed for what I was sure would be another fast taxi, but instead it gained momentum and soared into the air in a graceful climb circling the aerodrome at about 3000ft accompanied by a small chase aircraft, the make of which I have forgotten.

After a few circuits, unlike most maiden flights on which a new design ventured away from the base to commence its test programme, the wheels were dropped and a small piece of material was seen to flutter to the ground before VX770 made a perfect landing to commence a useful career. The piece that fell was a rear undercarriage door flap which did not interfere with flight, and I believe that for its subsequent appearance at Farnborough 1952 they removed the equivalent part on the other side for the sake of symmetry when viewed and photographed from the ground.

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