Eastbourne Vulcan XH558 display - Saturday 11th August 2012
Picture and video from inside the aircraft just released!The Eastbourne shoreline with the pier just coming into shot. Taken from XH558 as she enters her display routine. Courtesy of Phil Davies and Taff's camera! See bottom of this feature for video links.
Copy of a letter received in the office from a local resident and aircraft enhususiast, Barry Earthrowl.
I'm slowly coming back down to earth, metaphorically speaking, after three days of exciting flying during Airbourne 2012, the Eastbourne International Air Show (three days only because we had to endure dense sea fog and low cloud all day on Day One) but particularly because of witnessing XH558 displaying over my home town for the first time ever, after last seeing her twenty years ago!
Needless to say, and as you will already be aware, the Vulcan completely stole the show on the Saturday, Day Three, and the only windy day of the four. As the slot time approached, all eyes on the seafront (and I was on the promenade in front of the Western Lawns, where the ground displays and arena were situated) were turned to the south west looking in the direction of Beachy Head in eager anticipation of her imminent arrival. Suddenly, we caught our first glimpse of the giant delta in the far distance, flying clear of the headland and a little way out to sea before performing a steep turn and returning behind the cliffs. A very nicely painted and flown Jet Provost T.5 was giving a polished display, which at any other time would have been the centre of attention, but once the Vulcan had been spotted, the JP5 rather lost its audience!
We saw the Vulcan emerge from behind the cliffs a few times, each time performing a steep turn and then returning "around the corner", until the slot time of 4.10pm arrived and she ran in to commence her display. We were treated to eight minutes of sheer bliss! - joy! - ectasy! - as "The Spirit of Great Britain" demonstrated in front of probably the largest crowds ever assembled on the beaches and promenades. It was the best turn out of spectators I can remember in all the years of Airbourne, and I'm sure the Events Team of Eastbourne Borough Council have already told you this. We saw the bomb-bay open on one pass, and later we saw the lowered landing gear during a missed approach and the crescendo of engine noise as she powered up again to climb out, and there was at least one more good howl clearly heard, and then the final spiral climb and departure.
I thought I'd seen it all until I saw your Newsbytes on Tuesday devoted to the Eastbourne display. The two-minute-odd video clip of XH558 killing time awaiting her display slot by making nice and low passes around Beachy Head blew me away. What a combination of iconic images! The beautiful curved shape of the red and white Beachy Head lighthouse down below the white chalk cliffs and the beautiful lines of the Avro Vulcan B.2 flying past above the waves. Looking at her height above her shadow on the sea, and knowing her wingspan of 111 feet, I would estimate her height at somewhere between 300 and 350 feet, which must have made for an interesting time in the cockpit! I guess in peacetime you can only fly that low over the sea, though what height Vulcans would have been able descend to - and to fly at -to keep below Soviet radar (if it had come to it) only the pilots of the time would know. (You have a few on hand to ask!)
Thanks for giving us a great display. I might get over to one of the two days at Shoreham (1st & 2nd September) depending on the prevailing weather, but if not, I hope to see XH558 in the skies over Eastbourne again next year perhaps?
Very best wishes from Barry Earthrowl
Editor: Thank you Barry for such a lovely letter. We sincerely hope you are able to make our displays over Shoreham this year. Indeed, let's try to do it all again over Eastbourne in 2013!
Make sure you sign up for our free newsletter to be the first with latest news, photographs and video. Simply click here to complete the form.