THE bid to make the last flying Vulcan bomber Doncaster’s newest tourist attraction really got off the ground last night.
Three hundred VIPs gathered in one of the old wartime hangars at Robin Hood Airport to hear more details about the plan to bring thousands of visitors to the borough to get a closer look at the iconic nuclear bomber XH558.
It is the first time the Avro Vulcan, now 50 years old, has had a permanent home since it was decommissioned by the RAF in 1993.
The massive aircraft will soon be receiving guided tours as well as being a mighty backdrop to corporate entertainment events.
Mayor Peter Davies said it was “terrific” to see the plane back in Doncaster - it was based at Finningley in the early 1960s.
He predicted it would significantly raise the profile of the town and Robin Hood Airport.
“It is good that tourism is being helped by the plans of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust,” he said. “These are exciting times for Doncaster.”
John Sharman, trust chairman, said members had been keen to base XH558 at Robin Hood for the past two years because its previous home at RAF Lyneham was not suitable for civilian visits.
He said Vulcan would become a “must-see visitor attraction showing when Britain led the world in military aviation”.
“It will be a real draw to the area,” he added.
Although the bomber may be able to fly for only a few years more, the trust will maintain it in working order so it can taxi along the runway.
Plans are eing laid for a facility for skills development, using the inspirational nature of the Vulcan to provide training and team building for engineering companies.
In the longer term, a world leading centre of expertise for the restoration and operation of heritage jet aircraft will also be developed.
The original architecture of Hangar 3, bomb-stores and even the aircraft holding pans are all well preserved, making it the ideal location for the new visitor centre and a uniquely evocative location for education and events.
The facility will be developed to provide a visitor centre with a retail store and educational displays covering XH558’s technology and restoration, and an insight into the Cold War.
Hangar 3 will also provide an outstanding new events and hospitality venue, professionally-managed by Directions Community Interest Company. With staging, lighting, catering, audio visual facilities and flexible seating for up to 400, it will provide a unique venue for private and corporate events, and for smaller VIP parties.
Ideas are also in development for a skills centre that will build on the presence of XH558 and her team to provide training for apprentices and young engineers.