We are back in our trusty motorhome on the last leg of our drive to the first major airshow of 2013 at RAF Cosford and the traffic has been stop start for a large portion of the journey. An earlier accident on the A14 left a backlog of holdups even after the lorries involved were moved away. When we got to Birmingham on the M6 there were more queues through roadworks that seemed to go on for many more miles. Finally we are on to the M54 and the traffic is much lighter.
We will be working as volunteers for the Vulcan to the Sky Trust in the Vulcan Village at the Cosford airshow as we have for the last five years, ever since our Vulcan made her first appearance there following her restoration. Although it is a long trip from home on the other side of the country in Suffolk we always enjoy the Cosford show. The RAF guys are always welcoming and friendly which gives the show a ‘laid back’ atmosphere and we stay on a very pleasant farm site for the long weekend. The plan is to travel to Staffordshire and our campsite on Friday, meet at lunchtime on Saturday to set up and dress out the ‘Village’ for the show on Sunday, staying on the airfield on Saturday night, then back to the farm campsite Sunday night, home on Monday.
For supporters of our Vulcan it has been an uncertain few months through the winter and spring. Last year the trust who own and operate the aircraft announced that there was considerable uncertainty about her future as the airframe was running out of fatigue life. Although there was one more modification that could be applied to the leading edge of the wings to extend the flying life it was something of an unknown quantity as it had never been done on any flying aircraft. To say the least it would be a tricky process that, if not applied exactly, could further weaken the structure. There was also the possibility of other components or engines failing and causing the grounding of the aircraft after having spent a considerable amount on the mods.
In addition, there was the usual problem of having to raise a substantial amount of money during the long winter lay off to service the aircraft and keep the bills and engineers wages paid. Everything to do with running aeroplanes, including parts and fuel, is massively expensive particularly for one as large and complex as a Vulcan.
The winter target was a massive £800,000, a sum that looked almost impossible back in the autumn of 2012. As I write this it looks as though the target will be met at the end of June and probably beaten by a small amount. In these days of double dip recession and reduced spending that is quite an achievement.
Just before we left home this morning we got news that the Trust had made the decision to go ahead with raising funds in the way of pledges to have the work carried out and give a flying life extention of two years to the aircraft. That means that if everything goes to plan the aircraft will fly until the end of 2015.
So, we start our weekend in a very positive mood and are looking forward to seeing our fellow volunteers when we meet to set up the Vulcan Village tomorrow.