Survival plan to save Doncaster's Vulcan bomber hits £200,000 target ahead of schedule

A survival plan to save Doncaster's historic Vulcan bomber has hit its £200,000 target ahead of schedule.

Monday, 20th March 2017, 9:40 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:02 am
Doncaster's Vulcan XH558.

The iconic aircraft, based at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, was removed from public display earlier this year following the funding crisis.

There were fears for the long-term future of XH558 - but a rush of donations in recent weeks have helped secure the aircraft for 2017 and means its owners can now push forward with plans for a visitor centre and retain the plane's place in British aviation history.

Vulcan To The Sky Trust chief executive Robert Pleming said he hopes his team can now concentrate on plans to build a new home for XH558 so the public can see it again.

Dr Pleming said: "Everyone donating to this campaign can be proud that they are helping not only protect a unique and important part of the UK's rich aviation heritage, but also the breathing space needed to give Vulcan XH558 a secure home as the centrepiece of a new visitor centre to help inspire our future engineers."

The 57-year-old nuclear bomber flew for the last time in 2015 but after it was grounded, more than 1,000 people a month went to see it in its hangar at the airport.

However, in February, the VTTS were forced to put the plane into hibernation and lay off staff as the funding crisis hit.

Now the trust says more than 2,500 supporters have donated cash to raise £100,000 before the deadline of March 31.

It says its £200,000 target has been hit due to promises of match-funding from philanthropists.

Dr Pleming added: "We commenced what we are calling our 'hibernation period' in February, allowing us to regroup and move forward in a sustainable manner after major restructuring.

"This could even see us put XH558 through her annual service, returning her to ground running condition this summer. We hope it will give us the options to possibly bring XH558 back to life earlier than we had hoped which, in itself, will help with future fundraising.

"Our determination to succeed against what sometimes appear to be insurmountable odds will never wane and it will be great to see those who share this vision throughout our travels in 2017."

XH558 was built in 1960 and entered service with the RAF in the role of carrying Britain's nuclear deterrent to the heart of the Soviet Union. It was the last Vulcan to fly as an RAF aircraft in 1992 and was brought back into service in 2008.