AVRO VULCAN XM594 – A Vulcan at Newark Air Museum
Well, what a fascinating few months it has been for us here at #VForceHQ. 1st the blog site, followed by this website and the creation of our dedicated VForce HQ twitter feed.
So to finish off 2012 with a bang, we publish another Guest Blog by a regular contributor & VTTST Volunteer at RHAD (RAF Finningley) Amy Parkin (@_AmyParkin). In her latest blog she takes us through her visit to Avro Vulcan XM594 at Newark Air Museum and is unique as it contains ‘interview’ sections as well as the usual fantastic pictures.
This blog came to frutition as Amy wished to write another blog for our site but needed a little ‘inspiration’ as to a subject. At the time she was running a competition on her blog page entitled ‘Guess the Vulcan’ in which she had an image of one of our favorite aircraft with her serial number removed for all to investigate and then to ‘Name the Vulcan’. Some fantastic prizes were on offer and I am glad to say that she has allowed me to reproduce one of those prizes on this blog (and what a cracker it is, you’ll find it at the bottom of the blog). “That’s the subject of your next blog Amy” I said, and here it is.
We are always pleased to receive any contributions either in the form of blogs, pictures or anything V Force related. You can contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or via our twitter feed @VForceHQ
Thanks for your support once again and return often as exciting news will very soon be announced for a very ‘special’ event in 2013!
XM594 – A Vulcan at Newark Air Museum
4th August 2012 – A warm summers day, one of those types days where you remember everything precisely. My sister, Bryony, friend, Regan and I decided we’d take a day trip out to Newark Air Museum, we were all free, my sister and I had managed to get the day off work and Regan wasn’t at college as it was the summer holidays. We set off so early in the morning, it was about 0830 when we set off, and that is pretty early for me! It was quite miserable in the morning, but that all changed when we arrived in Newark – The skies suddenly turned blue, the sun was blazing, and the atmosphere was so cheery. The very first thing you see when you get to the museum is XM594, looking gorgeous, glinting in the sunlight. She’s beautiful.
You drive through the gates and there she is – The star of the show, stealing the limelight from all the other aircraft that are on display on those former airfields. She catches the attention of every visitor.
I remember walking through the car park, alongside other visitors, making their way down to the reception, there were families, with young children, and most significantly I remember a little boy shouting “Daddy! Look, daddy! There’s a Vulcan! Can you see her?” The little boy had the biggest smile on his face. It was wonderful to witness, this little lad was soon scooped up in his father’s arms, being told of the history and stories about the V Force – It was definitely the cutest of sights!
You have to go through the shop reception to get through to aircraft on display… I don’t think I could have got through reception any quicker… I was really excited! XM594 isn’t too far away from the reception area so I ran out to her, like a little kid. You know how some things just make you smile uncontrollably, well, she did just that. I was smiling so much, my cheeks were hurting.
My friend, Regan, had recently followed in my footsteps and he was becoming avidly interested in aviation and he really wanted to see fully intact Vulcan, so when we took him to Newark I think he was pretty impressed by XM594. I interviewed him about our visit and here’s what he had to say –
Q. What was your first impression of seeing XM594 at Newark Air Museum?
Regan: “The sheer size was remarkable and it was even better to see a Vulcan up close, brilliant experience I have to say.”
Q. And did she make a lasting impression?
Regan: “Well I am a large Vulcan fan now, so seeing the XM594 will be something to remember for years to come.”
Q. Now, just to break off from XM594 for a brief moment – You finally got to see XH558 fly for the first time later on in August, after our visit to Newark. It was only brief (literally 49 seconds); how was that for you?
Regan: “That was a brilliant experience too, seeing XM594 was spectacular but then seeing the XH558 for a few brief seconds, it was heart pounding, the sound of the engines really has an impact on the way you see this aircraft.”
Q. Lovely! What was your favourite part about seeing XM594 at Newark, were you just happy you’d finally got to see a Vulcan up close? How did it make you feel?
Regan: “My favourite part was looking at her head on and realising how large the Vulcan really is, you don’t quite understand until you have seen one up close. Honestly? It made me feel small but really happy that I finally saw a Vulcan for the first time.”
Q. Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say about the Vulcans/V Force?
Regan: “I’d like to say I don’t think I’ve seen or heard such a magnificent plane and I’ll always remember my first time seeing her. I was into aviation before but never really paid much attention… until you took me to the air museums and to see XH558 and XM594”
I enjoyed passing on my experiences with XH558, my interest in the V Force and aviation also, with Regan.
I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone; but most of us volunteers in the hangar (with ‘558) have a little ‘ritual’ – Some pat her wheels, some pat her bomb bay doors. It’s the bomb bay doors for me, entrance door if it’s open. I wanted to pat XM594 so badly before I left the air museum, the bomb bay doors were closed, as was the entrance door… The wheels were an option, an easy option. I’m 5ft 2”… I have no idea how I managed it but I decided I would pat engine 4… I did it! It made me feel happy that I’d done it. In some ways my visit there was complete because of that pat.
I spent the majority of my time there just staring at ‘594. We even went back to her twice before we left. It’s really strange how something so deadly can be so beautiful.
Before touching down at Newark Air Museum, XM594 was the second to last Vulcan to be built as a B.2 Blue Steel, she was delivered to the RAF in 1963 and assigned to No 27 Sqn, RAF Scampton, she later on joined No 617 Sqn, also based at Scampton, and later on, her final service came with No 44 Sqn based at Waddington. XM594 stayed at home whilst five other Vulcans were deployed to RAF Ascension Island.
On February 7th 1983, Avro Vulcan B.2 XM594 arrived at Newark Air Museum; she landed on a former bomber airfield used during World War II, which back in 1983 was being used for gliding! She arrived during a snow flurry; the heavyweight bomber landed safely on the gliders airfield and has been based at Newark Air Museum since 1983.
I remember visiting Newark Air Museum in 2005 with my parents. They powered her up (electrically). I was 11 and for some reason the memory of her being powered up is really vague, but I can’t forget it.
My dad went inside XM594’s cockpit in 2005, so I interviewed him to ask about his experiences with Vulcans and the V Force.
Q. Dad, in 2005, you went into the cockpit of XM594. What was that like?
Dad: “My first impression was just how little space there was for the five crew members and even though I had the opportunity to sit in the pilot seats, I chose not too simply because of the lack of space.”
Q. What was it like for you walking up those yellow ladders?
Dad: “It was exciting because it was something I have always wanted to do, I’ve always wanted to go inside a Vulcan, but I was really nervous, it was a big thing for me.”
Q. What’s your most significant memory from it?
Dad: “Again, the lack of space and how primitive the technology used was.”
Q. Would you do it again?
Dad: “I would love to… But in ‘558 simply because she’s the last one flying!”
Q. How did you become interested in the V Force?
Dad: “When I was a young lad, I remember seeing a Victor on the front of a comic and it terrified me! It just looked evil, and it scared me. Victors are very skeletal looking! Then one day, I was out playing and I was only about 6 or 7, and a Vulcan flew overhead, and even though it probably wasn’t going to take the chimney pots off, it definitely looked like it was going to, it felt like it was only 30ft above me! After witnessing this, Vulcans became of interest to me and these interests continued into later life.”
Q. Why did we go to Newark in 2005?
Dad: “We went for XM594 specifically, I wanted to get up, close and personal with a Vulcan and to be able to go inside the cockpit was an added bonus!”
Q. What was it like to hear her electrically powered up?
Dad: “The best word for it is whiny!”
Q. Is there anything else you want to say about the Vulcans/V Force?
Dad: “It’s a real shame that there are no more airworthy examples other than XH558, and I really hope her flying life can be extended, and I would really love to see a Victor fly too.”
I enjoyed talking to my dad about his experiences with aviation and the V Force, he’s the reason I’m so interested in aviation and I love sharing the passion for it with my dad!
Back to my visit to Newark –
The Blue Steel Missile; I had always wanted to see a Blue Steel missile; I couldn’t remember it from my first visit, but the second time around… I remember screaming at it! Not in an angry way, but I was pretty happy about seeing the missile. I learned most of what I know about the Blue Steel missile from working in the hangar and it was nice to finally see one. It’s really hard to imagine how big the missile actually is until you see one! They’re pretty big; they have a wingspan of 4m, they weigh around 17,000lbs and fly at a speed of Mach 2.3 They were manufactured by Avro, after they were selected (to do so) by the Ministry Of Supply. The Blue Steel was officially retired on December 31st 1970.
I didn’t really want to leave the museum, I felt happy there and I was content. The journey home seemed to take forever.
I really enjoy visiting air museums and Newark is one of my favourites. I love be able to visit Vulcans, and I love being able to write about my trips like this.
I just want to thank Regan and my dad for allowing me to interview them and include them in this article. I really appreciate it.
I’d also like to thank Rod for allowing me, once again, to write a guest blog.
Now keep calm and support the #twitterVforce