Monday, 19 March 2012

The Vulcan bomber and me

I watched a Channel 4 programme last night about the bombing of the runway at Port Stanley airport in the 1982 Falklands War.  In showing the technical and logistical background to the operation, it included a lot of humour from the RAF crews too.

I remember the raid and the refuelling on Ascension Island and mid-air over the South Atlantic that allowed the Vulcan bomber to make the 16,000 mile round trip from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire but I hadn't realised what a close run thing it was. The probe the aircraft needed to refuel in mid-air was found being used as an ashtray in the mess, the bomb aiming system worked on pulleys rather than electronics and the RAF didn't have charts for the South Atlantic so the navigator turned his map of the Northern hemisphere upside down and pretended the Azores were the Falklands. After Port Stanley airport had been bombed, the Vulcan came close to running out of fuel before it encountered a Victor tanker aircraft almost by chance and made it back to Ascension.

As a kid, I was into military aircraft, reading about them, making models and going to airshows at Woodford near Stockport.  The Woodford factory and airfield were once owned by Avro, the company that built both the Lancaster and Vulcan bombers, and flypasts by the two aircraft were highlights of the shows.  I also went to Manchester Airport in 2009 for the last flypast by a Vulcan.

1 comment:

  1. Vulcans used to regularly fly over where I lived when I was a kid. Not surprising, as Waddington was only about 10 miles away. Incredibly distinctive planes.