When #twitterVforce met XH558 – Your Questions Answered – The Interview Series No1
Just a few words of thanks to start our latest blog. Myself and Dave T would like to thank Taff and Toni for taking the time to answer all of your questions that you submitted via www.twittervforce.com and a very big special thank you to our own reporter Amy Parkin
Here it is, what you have been waiting for… My interview with Taff Stone and Toni Hunter! Now, this interview is incredibly long, and there’s is a lot of reading to do, but Taff and Toni answered all the questions thoroughly and explained everything exceedingly well. I would also like to say it was a genuine honour and pleasure to interview them both, and finally meet Taff! They’re both very sincere and kind. Before you start reading the interview, I would like to thank everybody for the support with these interviews and thank you for sending in your wonderful questions, I hope that they have been answered well enough for you and enjoy reading this interview!
One more thing –
***URGENT JAFFA CAKE APPEAL!!!!***
Jaffa Cake stocks are running INCREDIBLY low at Hangar 3 at the minute, so if you could spare a few £££’s for a box of Jaffa Cakes for XH558’s lovely engineers, I know that it will be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
TVF: Hi Taff and Toni! First of all, thank you for sparing me the time to interview you!
Both: “No problem!”
TVF: Okay, we have been sent questions from our twitterVforce audience and they want to know what you have to say…
This question was sent to us by Robert Hall and he wants to know – To what extent do you know if XH558 will be able to fly beyond 2013,and what would be required to enable her to do so?
Taff: “We’re aiming to get the aircraft flying for as long as safely possible, we have issues with the fatigue life of the aircraft and the engines and we’re currently in the process of trying to extend these for as long as possible.”
TVF: Is that what’s being going on with the x-rays and such?
Taff: “Yes, the x-rays are part of the normal checks, but we had Cranfield Aerospace come in, doing the scanning of the leading edge wing where the modification will need doing, so we’ve been doing the preliminary checks on that and also, we’re looking into the engine life again.”
TVF: These questions were sent to us by Andrew Clayton and he would like to know – What colour scheme is your favourite for the Vulcan, the current one or anti-flash white?
Taff: “I’ve always known the aircraft in the camouflage role. I’m not young enough to remember the anti-flash white! But I do like the camouflage, especially with the high gloss finish that ‘558 has as appose to the old matte version that used be on the normal aircraft.”
Toni: “I would love to see the Vulcan fly in white! I can always remember there were conversations about a certain type of paint which was soluble by, not water of course, but with some other form and I did always think to myself now that would be quite good! Of course when we were talking about sponsors, I did wonder what an Utterly Butter Vulcan would look like!”
TVF: What has been the best/worst bit about your time with the Vulcan?
Taff: “I suppose the best bit working with the Vulcan is actually being one of the few engineers actually been able to have flown in the aircraft. I should think that’s the best. Supposedly the worst; When I delivered her to Bruntingthorpe in 1993. I didn’t expect to see her flying again.”
Toni: “I think the best bit I can remember, we was at RAF Leuchars, and we had been invited by the Polish team to have a look at their MiG 29, now being a bit of an air show geek, that was a really wonderful opportunity and after we’d had a look around, they came to see us with the Vulcan and they were really quite excited and they were going around having their photograph taking with the Polish flag and at one point I was chatting to their chief and he said to me ‘you know if this had all gone wrong, the Vulcan would have bombed my home.’ and I said to him, ‘but isn’t it lovely… That the world has changed in such a way, that you and I can stand here as friends and share a drink, and chat.’ And I would say that, that was one of the most poignant experiences, had it been a cinematic thing; the sun was setting, it was a beautifully warm day and it really was quite the most perfect setting! I would say the worst was probably last year when we lost two engines. I’m not one who is prone to becoming emotional about (if you like) inanimate objects, I don’t name my cars or get particularly affectionate about them, I think I have shed more tears over this aircraft than anything else I can think of.”
TVF: We (me and a lot of other fans…) were stood at the end of the runway when that happened and I’ve never seen so many people in a row cry all at once!
Would you ever work on getting another aircraft flying again, such as the Lightning or Harrier?
Taff: “Yes I would.”
TVF: Which aircraft would you do it all over again with?
Taff: “Erm, I don’t know really! I think we did try to get a harrier before they sent them all the way back over to America but any other aircraft that would be wanted to bring back to flight, I would be more than happy to help go and get my two pence worth!”
TVF: Would do try and get another Vulcan flying? If it was possible?
Taff: “If it was possible, yes! I would because I actually know that aircraft a bit more than some other aircraft.”
Toni: “As far as the Vulcan is concerned, I wouldn’t change a single thing about my own personal involvement throughout the years, when this project comes to an end… Well, actually… I don’t think we’ll ever allow ‘558 to die! Even after the flying life has finished, we still want to have a future for XH558 as the centre piece for education and engineering. I won’t call it a museum because that is not what we want it to be, but it be an almost living environment, think The Eden Project and you’ve got a good idea then. So I think, no I wouldn’t change a single thing, maybe the incident at the beginning of last year, I would change that if I could, but you know in terms of my own involvement, I have thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s been wonderful.”
TVF: Would you work on a different aircraft as well?
Toni: “Yes! I am a true aircraft geek, to be honest with you!”
TVF: An avgeek?
Toni: “Absolutely! And yes, I mean there are other aircraft that I particularly love, you mentioned the Lightning and they are for me, when I was a child going to air shows the Lightning and the Vulcan were always the ones that used to fly and they were always my favourites! So, I suppose the answer to that is, yes. I definitely would.”
TVF: You were saying as well, you don’t particularly want everything here that has happened with 558 to end, so in the future would it all go on to possibly education, with the Ve3 and things like that?
Toni: “Yes, that’s the plan! It would seem to us a to be a real travesty if all the money that people have put into this project come the end of it, she just ends up in another museum, we have 14 examples at present of aircraft that are in museums or static display and there are two examples of fast taxy running of that aircraft. Well, one and a half! The one at Southend (XL426) they’re still trying get back to fast taxy condition. So, I think there would be an intent to keep ‘558 still doing fast taxy runs, but the most important thing would be to continue the work we’re doing at the moment, which is the education.”
TVF: Like you say with the fast taxy runs, would that take place here (RHADS)?
Toni: “Hopefully, yes! We see a future for the Vulcan here at Doncaster, because at the end of the day Finningley, really we have to remember that this was RAF Finningley and this is almost the spiritual home of XH558, she spent 8 years here between 1961 and 1969, at times in this very hangar! The aim would then be to try and build a purpose built environment but that would be living where it would be excellence in engineering and excellence in science, so not just in aviation. Potentially, you would have the Vulcan there, we would also have bloodhound, for example… So, that’s the plan. Education – Let’s give more to the next generation.”
TVF: That’s a good thing because with me being young and working in aviation, it’s nice to try and get more younger people involved, because it’s seems really difficult at the minute doesn’t it?
Toni: “It’s very difficult! There isn’t the enthusiasm to study science and engineering. When I was young, if I wanted a go kart, which I did… Because I was a bit of a tomboy to be honest, I had to build it myself! I won’t tell stories of nicking my nieces wheels off her pram… But the thing I do remember is; I would be going down a hill and I’d be half way down when I’d suddenly think to myself that breaks would be an excellent idea! So, the Mk II had a lovely set of breaks! But if you think about it… That was the start of engineering, nowadays we have a very quick and easy society, in terms of; if you want something… You buy it, it’s already done for you, you don’t have to build it, you don’t have to find ways to make it and sometimes I think that this younger generation have lost out as a result of that. The toys that I can remember are things like Lego, you built your own stuff, but you didn’t have the sets, you just had blocks and bricks and you had to use your imagination to build something with it! That inspired me to want to go into engineering and that’s very much why I’m here today.”
TVF: When I was at school, I was never offered engineering, I wasn’t even offered mechanics, and I really want to be an engineer but because I’d never experienced those classes at school, I can’t go straight into engineering now, because I don’t have that experience for it. Would there be engineering classes based around the Vulcan and other stuff?
Toni: “Absolutely! In fact, we have developed a workshop at Aeroventure, which is a lovely aviation museum not far from here. The workshop is aimed towards young people especially that want to get that feel for engineering, for example; they’ll learn what different tools are, like screwdrivers, files and other tools do. It’s very much what we call ‘manual hand skills’ because obviously that is what the Vulcan is all about, it’s very much manual, mechanical engineering. However, understanding how those tools work even though we live now in a cad cam environment even knowing how to use a screwdriver or a saw, things like that would become useful and that is a new area for us. But you talk about being a girl in engineering nowadays, you should have tried it when I was young!”
TVF: It is difficult now, so I can’t imagine what it would have been like back then because I get people come up to me nowadays and they say ‘oh it’s so weird that you want to be an engineer’ or ‘it’s so weird that you work in aviation’ and I’m like ‘Why? It’s 2013… Have an open mind!’
Toni: “I was offered eventually an apprenticeship. I had to accept the fact that physically I may not be strong as some of the males that were on the course, however, my manual dexterity was perhaps better than quite a lot of the boys because sometimes have quite small, slim hands is really useful for those little inconvenient holes you to get into just to get to bits! But it was a lot harder for me as very few people took girls seriously in engineering in those days.”
TVF: These questions were sent to us by my friend, Matthew Smith. He has a few engineering questions for Taff and he would like to know – Being a Cold War era aircraft, how temperamental are the electronic systems on the aircraft?
Taff: “Being an old aircraft, it is old electrics so it is susceptible to the weather, so it doesn’t particularly like cold wet days, a bit like ourselves! But the more you use the aeroplane, the more it flies, the better and more reliable it does become
TVF: The working conditions for the flight crew on the Vulcan are renowned for being very cramped, is this also the case when working on the systems of the aircraft, or is it manufactured in such a way as to make an engineers’ life ‘easy’?
Taff: “No, it’s not. What they do is, they have the component then they build the aircraft around the component, so once it’s in there, you can’t get at it! Some parts are fairly easy to access but there are some that are not.”
TVF: How much does the engineering work carried out on the Vulcan differ from standard civil aircraft, in terms of legislation as well as the engineering operations themselves?
Taff: “It doesn’t differ that much. We do have to cover the same type of things, we do the pre-flight inspections, we do the routine maintenance in the civilian words we have the A checks, B check, C checks which is all laid down maintenance and we still have the check which were used within the Royal Air Force, so the procedures are similar but there are additional things that we have to work to on our permit to fly on a complex aircraft, things that other permit holders don’t have to do. Our critical to flight components have to be overhauled by the original manufacturers, to the original specs, which is a bit more than some of the other permit to fly aircraft.”
TVF: Of all the jobs on the aircraft, which do you look forward to with the biggest sense of dread when it is called up to be carried out
Taff: “I don’t think there is anything really that I look forward to with dread, there are certain parts of the servicing that I enjoy more, which is the ground running, to be able to sit there running the engines and when you take it up to full power, you know I can hear and feel the howl! That’s the good bits about it! There’s nothing I don’t think I actually dread.”
TVF: Does anything annoy you when you doing the servicing?
Taff: “Not really, probably the only thing you could say would be the NDT because unfortunately you can only do the x-rays in the evening, the jobs itself is not a problem, it’s just the time of day
TVF: My friend, Regan Johnston would like to know – How much does it cost to fill XH558, fuel wise?
Taff: “Fuel wise? It depends what the price is at the pump! ‘558 holds 74,000lbs (which is around 40,000 litres) when full, and it depends on how much it is per litre, but when we did the hours ground run the other day, we’d used up around £5,000 worth of fuel for one hours running.”
TVF: More expensive than filling up your car, then?
Taff: “It is, yes.”
TVF: Now these are a few of my own questions, I’d just like to know – What advice would you give to youngsters who want to get involved with engineering?
Taff: “Go for it! I get a lot of job satisfaction in the jobs that I actually do, when you’re in engineering you can physically see what you’ve done and what you can do about it, and it’s such a good feeling of well being when you’ve done something where you can see the fruits of your labour. To me it’s well worth it.”
TVF: Does it feel like you’ve accomplished something?
Taff: “It certainly does.”
TVF: What’s your favourite memory of working with XH558?
Taff: “I suppose my most memorable one would be the first flight, when I saw her take off again for the first time.”
TVF: That’s quite a good one, I remember the first time I saw her fly, I was in awe!
Taff: “I think the first time I actually saw a Vulcan fly, I was about 15 and I was cycling over the black mountains in the Brecon Beacons and I just came to the brow of the hill, after cycling all the way up, I was rather fatigued, and this Vulcan came up from the other side of the hill, and it came up a couple of hundred feet over the top and I didn’t have a clue what it was!”
Toni: “Errm, well obviously we’ve got the Leuchars event and I’ve been very fortunate to have spent an awful lot of time working around ‘558, I suspect to some extent it has been building this visitor attraction and becoming fairly successful to be honest with you and that to me has been very powerful for me in terms of experience, building it from stratch.”
TVF: I was talking to Taff earlier and he said the same that it’s nice to be able to see what has been produced of it all. Another thing, you say she has become this attraction to tourists, do you think that she attracts more and more every year?
TVF: I was here in November and there was a man who had come all the way from Australia just to see her!
Toni: “Oh yes! We had a group that came over from a Spanish flying club, and they flew over just to see her at the Duxford air show and at the same time they had put in their plans to come and see the Vulcan in the hangar. We also have a Facebook page, and anyone wanting to find our Facebook page will find it by just searching for ‘XH558’ and you can’t miss it because it has got over 28,000 likes which is not bad going, when you think that everybody considers ‘oh aeroplane fanatics are all anoraks… Hmmm, nope not at all!”
TVF: Not always! So every year, do you notice more foreign visitors?
Toni: “I’ve probably seen more people from further afield, we do have visitors from Canada, we’ve had them from Australia and America and that’s been fairly consistent since we opened this as an attraction. Inevitably, we now have visitors that say ‘oh my family, or my relatives are coming over in the summer… Can we bring them on a tour?’ So, I’m noticing more and more of that. We’ve had, I would say, just under 2,000 visitor from October to the end of December and I’ve probably seen another thousand since the beginning on January! Most of our tours are sold out.”
TVF: I’ve noticed that when I’m here volunteering, it does get pretty packed sometimes.
Toni: “It does indeed!”
TVF: Would you do it all over again (restoration) if you were given the chance?
Taff: “Yes, I would! I think my manager would say that they’ll never do a restoration again, we’ll maintain and operate but never another restoration! But it was enjoyable work. It was, again, seeing the fruits of our labour and to actually bring something up that people never believed would happen and to actually achieve that, the satisfaction was phenomenal!”
Toni: “Absolutely! In my mind, this has also developed me as a person, and there have been some absolute highs, I can’t really tell you sometimes that feeling of euphoria! But there have been some very, very dramatic lows, but you learn how to perceiver through those and I think that’s a very valuable aspect when you look at normal day to day life. This project epitomizes something, that nothing is impossible if you really put your mind to it.”
TVF: What made you want to become involved with engineering, joining the RAF… So on?
Taff: “I always wanted to join the forces, to get away. One of my friends, who was a year or two older than me, he joined the navy which is what I was originally hoping to do, go and see the world, as they do… But they were messed about, should I say, it what trades they wanted to do and how they were going about, so I decided then that the army wasn’t for me, so it was the air force because I did want to be in engineering of some sort.”
TVF: What made you want to get involved with this particular aircraft?
Toni: “I have been around Vulcans from quite a young age, my father was in the RAF, I can still remember XH558 when she was on the cusp of being sold and helping to raise some of the 100,000 names on the petition, I’ve even just recently come across video footage of sitting with my two children on Southend beach watching ‘558 come across the water and some incredible low level! Which they seemed to be allowed to do when she was in the RAF! Then flying out of shot. So I probably have got memories going back over 25 years of this aircraft and it has a certain something… If I could bottle it. I would be a very rich woman.”
What’s your most significant aviation memory?
Taff: “Oh! Errr, another highlight in my career was when I was on the Red Arrows! I actually managed to be flown back seat as one of the engineers for the Red Arrows, so I’ve done that as well, I have been quite lucky!”
TVF: Wow! I didn’t realise you were on the Red Arrows team!
Toni: “I mean, obviously I’ve done so much with Vulcan which is always going to be prominent. But I think probably, 3 years ago, or just over 3 years ago now, I travelled to South Africa because I had a passion to want to see a Lightning fly again and I knew that the Lightnings flew out in South Africa.”
TVF: Thunder City?
Toni: “Thunder City, indeed! I decided to go out there to try to visit Thunder City and then to go an air show where the Lightnings would be flying. I travelled out there, really unknowingly, having never travelled to South Africa before in my life and I had a fantastic time! Beautiful place to visit, and I did go to the air show, now the air show itself should have been one of my best memories because I was being hosted at the time by a film maker and his main thing was nature films but he had a hobby of filming aviation, so he was well known and he sat me down telling me ‘oh by the way, this is your seat here.’ and he was very strict about it and I looked to the right and I could see a man sat at a table, and it turned out that was the commentary position and as I was sat there, the commentator stood up and said ‘Oh well, ladies and gentleman, it’s lovely to see everybody here! We have about 80,000 people today, and we do have one very special visitor, it’s a lady that’s come all the way from the UK to come and see our Lightnings! … Toni! Tell me, have you got a connection with a certain aircraft?!’ Well, I stood there looking like a goldfish with my mouth flapping and not quite knowing what to say and to this day I cannot remember what I did say! Unfortunately, later in the day… The Lightning crashed.”
TVF: Oh my gosh, I imagine that would have been quite bad?
Toni: “Well it crashed and killed the pilot unfortunately. And it was absolutely horrific and I’d never experienced a crash at an air show before, I mean I’ve been to air shows and there have been incidents but not the day I was there. The Lightning crashed and I have to say that I have never ever forgotten it! They decided to continue with the air show, the pilots felt that is was a recognition of Dave Stock who was the pilot of that Lightning to continue to fly and at the end of the show, they have the equivalent on the Red Arrows, and the throughout the show, the commentator had kept coming over to say hello and asking what did I think of the show and I was numb from what had happened and as the equivalent of the Red Arrows, the Silver Falcons came in, he said ‘oh they’re now going to perform a special manoeuvre for Toni…’ and they did the ‘heart’ manoeuvre! Now I’m thinking that I should be sitting here thinking ‘oh wow this is wonderful!’ and I can’t because of what had happened earlier on in the day! So that’s probably one of my more significant memories in aviation!”
TVF: It must be strange to see a crash, I’ve never seen personally, but I know in the olden days, like at Farnborough they used to just carry on didn’t they? I imagine that nowadays they would just call the rest of the show off?
Toni: “Oh yeah! I think because these days it has changed quite considerably! I mean, 1952 was the first air show that the Vulcan flew into at Farnborough, but that was also the show that the De Havilland 110 crashed, killing John Derry, the test pilot at the time, but when it disintegrated in the air, one of the engines landed in the ground…”
TVF: Is that the plane that went up and split into two?
Toni: “It did! It literally just disintegrated and one of the engines fell into the crowd and killed 29 people. I’ve actually spoken to a number of people that have been on tours here, that were at that show and can remember it happening. It was almost a case that they just cleared up the carnage and carried on with the show! It’s amazing and like you say, it would be unlikely to happen now!”
TVF: Now, I wasn’t sure if you’d be able to answer this one but you said that you’d flown in the aircraft, so you might be able to answer this one. Jo wants to know – My burning question is, I like many of other 558 fans do will sometimes wait in a field or whatever along her flight route to and from a display to catch a glimpse of her. I’ve always wondered if the crew can see us as they go over?
TVF: I don’t think they would be able to but I’m not sure!
Taff: “Yes you can see the crowd, whether you can actually make a certain person out… I doubt very much!”
TVF: So you can see the crowd, but not clear enough?
TVF: These next few questions were actually sent in by my mum, Jo Parkin and she would like to know
How many Jaffa Cakes do you go through in a year?
Taff: “A lot! We had 100 boxes delivered, which lasted about 3 months.”
TVF: It seems that you quite like Jaffa Cakes around here?
Taff: “We all do!”
TVF: She would also like to know – When you’re repainting XH558, does it feel like you’re painting a giant Airfix kit?
Taff: “It is like that! It is a large bit, we do have a painter that comes in and does the majority of the painting but that year when we’d done the top of the wings, then they were rollered with several people up there with their rollers, rollering the aircraft!”
TVF: I have seen quite a few pictures of that! I think Siobhan (VTTST Official Photographer) was up there rolling around as well?
TVF: Do you still get the rush of excitement as ‘558 howls or takes off?
Taff: “It’s the howl! When I hear that howl, I just get a big grin because I know she’s just about to take off, so for me it’s the initial howl at the start.”
TVF: These questions were sent to you by Rod Holmes, the founder of twitterVforce! Rod would like to know –
Since the project was started have there ever been discussions to revert 558 back to her original Anti Flash white paint scheme?
Taff: “No, not that I know of. I think because of our permit, we’re to keep her in her original colours (camouflage) from her service because we have an exemption from the MoD to be able to fly in those colours, so we would have to re-apply to change bits and pieces and whilst we’ve got it, we’d like to keep it!”
TVF: With the spares recovery programme, were parts from XM607 removed for use and if so, do we have parts of Black Buck 1 still flying in the skies (apart from Martin Withers)?
Taff: “Yes, I do believe we have had spares from ‘607 now whether they’re on the aircraft nor or in our stores, I can’t say for definite, but I do know that over the years, spares have been removed from ‘607.”
TVF: When 558 finally retires from our skies, will she have all of her original inside systems replaced?
Taff: “What we’ll hopefully be doing, will be actually putting the cockpit back to its original views. Obviously, a lot of the systems will not be working because they were completely removed, however the aesthetics of the aircraft will look the same and we will re-introduce the instrument panels and what have you, with the components but they won’t be completely working.”
TVF: These questions were sent you to by Dave Taylor who actually supports the XM655 team by helping voluntarily and he helps to raise awareness for XM655. He is also a team member and the technical guru for twitterVforce.com! Dave would like to know – What is the fiddliest maintenance job on XH558, and what is the task that the groundcrew least look forward to performing?
Taff: “The field system can be quite temperamental, cause it is again, an old system. But no, as I said, I don’t there’s any systems I dread having to do. I know that a lot of the systems used to cause a lot of problems in the olden days was the military flight systems and that. But all that has been removed now for modern avionics so the systems we used to have a lot of trouble with are no longer fitted and functional with the aircraft.”
TVF: When you watch XH558 leap into the air on takeoff, what is going through your mind?
Taff: ‘Oh good, I can go and sit down and have a cuppa coffee now cause everyone’s watching the aeroplane’.
TVF: Does it make you happy to see everyone else happy when watching the Vulcan?
Taff: “Oh it does, yeah! I’m happy when she takes off because I know then that there is a lot of happy people around but it does give me a chance just to sit down and have 5 minutes.”
TVF: How does working on the only flying Vulcan in the world make you feel?
Taff: “Happy to come to work in the mornings.”
TVF: Do you enjoy your job?
Taff: “I do, yes.”
TVF: Does it make you feel proud?
Taff: “Yes, it does. It builds so much happiness and pleasure to so many people, it’s a hobby that you can work at.”
TVF: Dave also says “558 is sponsored by some of the big names in aviation and engineering, but surely McVities, purveyors of the finest Jaffa Cakes ought to be on the sponsors list also? Since their contribution to keeping her crew happy!”
Taff: “If they would like to donate the said items, then I believe they would be put onto the website (sponsors list)!”
TVF: Toni, Dave would also like to know – How does your role fit in with VTTS and what are the challenges you often face?
Toni: “Well my role nowadays as access manager is to set up and maintain visitor access to the Vulcan and it is challenging because we’re operating in a live airside environment and fortunately the airport (RHADS) has helped up to bring our visitors on site. We’re also constantly challenged with maybe not always being able to provide enough tours for people to come along or enough places, and we have a lot of limitations, so it’s balancing that and it’s also the fact that it’s providing, or is trying to provide and income. We’re doing this one a zero budget, that’s my biggest challenge, I have no budget to go out and buy display cases or anything because every penny has to go back into keeping the aircraft going and that is only right, I cannot argue that point but it is therefore challenging because you want to make this look professional and smart and look like a real visitor attraction but that can be difficult when there is no budget to do it!”
TVF: This question was sent to us by Steve Bateman and he would like to know – Has 558 got leading edge heating on her wings and if so what system is it?
Taff: “Hot air and de-icing, ducted off the engines and just fed down the leading edge of the wings.”
TVF: Liz Doak would like to know – In an ideal world what would the long term funding of 558 entail, sponsorship ? corporate? public?
Toni: “Wouldn’t it be lovely if we had one of these people that is a multi-billionaire, where for them £2 million would be nothing, our biggest challenge is that we’re always on the back foot. We can’t do an awful lot of planning ahead because we haven’t got the money. For example; there are jobs that could be done but we can’t do them, we have to divert them because we haven’t got the money to do them straight away, we have to plan what are the things we desperately need to do, so we would have to put these things off until we have got the money to do them. Whereas, if we had the money, we could probably do it more efficiently and maybe even cheaper by being able to have that money up front to do it… If we had £2 million handed to us now, apart from the fact that we’d probably have to pick ourselves up off of the floor, but if we did, suddenly everything would take on a new aspect. There would be shows that we could do, for example, that we can’t do now because we can’t afford to do those shows and they can’t afford to pay us what it would cost. I only see sponsorship or donation to be the ideal way forward. However, it does give a little ownership to the aircraft that we have got so many loyal followers that continue every year to exceed our expectations and bring in the money to keep the Vulcan flying.”
TVF: Like on Twitter, when the news broke about this possibly being the last season… I have never seen any news break out onto Twitter so quickly! Everyone was like ‘We have got to start fundraisers and do everything we can!’
Toni: “They (the fans) have proven that throughout this project that when you face adversity, we always seem to overcome it. I vaguely remember Robert Pleming turning around and saying that he thought that we perhaps had a guardian angel that steps in every time is really looks bleak. I, myself have manned telephones at 12 o’clock at night, where if we hadn’t have achieved a certain figure, we knew that the project would come to an end, and at that point, it was coming up to midnight and we didn’t know if we were going to achieve the figure that we needed.”
TVF: It’s quite good though that people don’t seem to want to stop giving. It seems that on both Facebook and Twitter people constantly want to help. Which is part of the driving force keeping ‘558 in the sky.
TVF: That’s it for the questions from our audience. Are there any final words you’d like to say?
Toni: “It is actually a BIG thank you to everybody that supports us, whether that person is; Well yourself who has come along and volunteered your time to help us here in the hangar… Whether it be time or money it’s all been valuable to us because without that we wouldn’t be here now. There’s only 17 full time employees with the Vulcan to the Sky Trust and there is only so much that we can do, without the volunteers, without the people who donate, the people that will go and rattle buckets for us along the flight line, when ‘558 is flying, the people from Yorkshire Post who put a full page advert in the paper free of charge for us, all of that… I’d just like to be able to say thank you to everybody that continues to support ‘558.”
TVF: Taff, any final words?
Taff: “Thank you for the all the continued support!”
TVF: I would just like to say thank you on behalf of twitterVforce.com for everything that you, Taff and all the rest of the team have been doing as well!
All images are Copyright © twitterVforce.com