A day in the hangar – A volunteers 8hr day alongside Avro Vulcan B2 XH558
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This is the 2nd post from our own ‘roving reporter’ and Vulcan to The Sky volunteer Amy (you can follow her on twitter @_TheBlackWatch)
The piece below gives an account of what a typical 8hr shift involves for a volunteer who helps to keep things moving freely at Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster (Ex RAF Finningley) for all of the wellwishers & visitors who come to pay homage to the V bomber that we all love -Avro Vulcan B2 XH558.
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“Good evening, everyone!
A lot of people are probably expecting me to write a huge story about all the fantastic things I do in the hangar, let me just pre-warn you… It’s not exactly like that… I’ve said it before; my job in the hangar is very simple and straight forward, but for me to be at my happiest it doesn’t take much – Standing next to XH558 is all I need.
I start my day off with the hour journey to the airport, sometimes it feels like it takes forever to get there and I won’t lie – every time I do go, I still get the sicky, anxious feeling and goose bumps… Just because I know I’m on my way to see ‘558!
Once I arrive at the airport, I take the journey to the hangars, which are all on the left side of the airport; we’re based in hangar 3, which is also BAE Systems hangar. I get my security pass then head down into the hangar. Security is incredibly tight. You can’t even gain access to the reception area without having a ‘zappy’ key. Security, however, is in place for very good reasons!
After getting through security, volunteers have a small briefing, just to see what roles we are going to take on for the day. I usually man the till… It has taken me almost 8 months to figure that devious machine out, but yesterday I finally mastered it! I also help out with checking visitors in at reception – which also took me a long time to figure out. As a volunteer it’s also my job to write out the parking tickets, talk to visitors, and guide the visitors to the correct places (entering and exiting the hangar, that sort of stuff) and helping out with fundraising.
In a usual day, we have 3 tours, sometimes we have up to 5 tours and the hangar can get incredibly busy, but those are the best days! I have met so many fantastic and fascinating people through working there. I met an elderly gentleman a couple of weeks ago, and he was certainly the sweetest person I have ever met in my life! He was a former soldier from the Tanker Regiment and the stories he shared with us were absolutely wonderful. I think that’s what I like best about this job. It’s rewarding to meet people like that soldier.
Us volunteers work completely for free. We don’t get anything. We don’t mind not getting anything. We get to work so close to XH558 and that is an honour. However, there are some perks to the job:
1. Exclusive access to XH558. I have never been so close to an active aircraft in my life.
2. I get to drink tea whilst being so close to the Vulcan. I love tea… and the Vulcan.
3. I’m the baby of the team, and I love the stories my older co-workers share with me – especially stories about their time in service.
4. Everyone I work with are all unique, fun, and caring individuals who I love.
5. I get to do things like this on my breaks –
6. The hangar is full of Jaffa Cakes.
7. The smell of the hangar is amazing, it’s got that old plane smell, and then when you get closer to the entrance door of the Vulcan, the smell is just wonderful.
8. The engineers are hilarious, especially Ray.
9. I am really honoured to be able to say “I work with XH558.”
10. I could be in the most hideous of moods and XH558 will instantly change my mood and make me happy.
11. I’ve made so many friends there.
12. I met Phil Davies (AEO) yesterday (20/10/12) and he was so down to earth and lovely!
When the day ends, we have a small briefing, just to see how the day went, we count the donations, sort the till out, hand our passes back in and go home. I go home feeling incredibly smiley and happy and I’m sure it’s the same for the other volunteers.
I wanted to try and keep this one short, but that’s proven difficult. I love my job and I love what I do with XH558. I have never felt so much pride for anything in my life.
And that’s about it!
I know all of this is a little bit ‘scew-wiff’ and maybe a little confusing, but once I start talking about what I do in the hangar, I get over-emotional and excited!
Thank you for reading and I hope you had a great weekend.
P.s Here’s my fav shot from this year!