One of the most eagerly anticipated events on the aviation scene in recent years was the arrival in the UK of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster X FM213 (marked as KB726 VR-A – leading to the aircraft often being referred to as ‘Vera’). Having crossed the Atlantic via Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland, this last leg ending in Lincolnshire was planned to see the aircraft joined by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster, plus a Spitfire and Hurricane, for formation flypasts over various local locations and with the addition of the Red Arrows over Lincoln and Coningsby. Many thousands of expectant aviation enthusiasts gathered at all of the points on the route following her progress via social media and Flight Radar apps. The weather during the morning had been changeable but mostly fine, with Coningsby’s regular Typhoon movements and an arrival by VIPs in a HS125 taking place without issue. Sadly as the time for the RAF’s participation approached an extreme weather front moved in from the east drenching the thousands waiting patiently and leading to their cancellation.
All that remained was to get VR-A down safely. From underneath umbrellas all eyes were trained on the approach at Coningsby, and eventually a silhouette appeared from out of the gloom to put down gently onto the damp Lincolnshire runway. Having shut down on the taxiway the Lancaster was towed into position alongside PA474 in front of the welcoming party of veterans and invited guests. Outside the fence her arrival was met with cheers and clapping from the enthusiastic public, many of whom were locals from the village. The residents of Coningsby have a great affection for the airbase and particularly the historic BBMF, illustrated by the many flags on show welcoming the visitors from Canada.
KB726 will undergo servicing in the BBMF hangar before making practice flights with PA474 prior to their public debut at ‘Airbourne’, Eastbourne, on Thursday, followed by around eighty other appearances. The Lancaster will return to Canada on the 22 September.
Once the two fly together it will be the first time in around fifty years that such a sight has been seen, and will most likely only ever be repeated if or when the East Kirkby Lancaster NX611 is restored to airworthy condition.
On 16 November the Vulcan Restoration Trust carried out the first engine runs on XL426 since March of this year, a run planned to give the engineering team the chance to test and carry out some of the jobs that require hydraulic pressure available with the engines running. The on-going ‘Return to Power’ program is approaching the Trust’s goal of a fully high-speed capable aircraft, with recent work focussing on the undercarriage, braking systems and nose wheel steering. The delay between engine runs is partly down to the strict procedural requirements now in place at the continually expanding International airport. The Trust’s airside vehicles have to meet specifications, and members of the team have to be trained and cleared to operate airside. Also there is now a limit on the locations on the airport where engines can be run, requiring that the Vulcan be towed to the north side of the airport, and this couldn’t be done until the Trust’s tug had been brought up to acceptable standard.
Early in the morning the aircraft was prepared for towing out:
Checking the intakes for foreign objects, moisture and blade condition:
‘New’ tyres, brake unit heat packs and re-built wheels:
Ready to roll:
Once airside one of the planned jobs was to bleed the recently refitted nose-wheel steering. To do this requires a greased steel plate with another plate on top. Once the nose-wheel is positioned on the plates the steering can be operated and the system bled.
Checking for leaks in the brake system:
Bleeding the nose-wheel steering:
The Vulcan Restoration Trust is a registered charity in need of the public’s support.
Please visit their website http://www.avrovulcan.com/ to see how you can help.
A surprise exhibit amongst the aircraft on static display in the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation enclosure at the Goodwood Revival was airworthy Avro 504K replica LV-X430 ‘Olivia’. It was built by Argentinean company Pur Sang Aero Historic and was their second build of the type.
Pur Sang is a restoration company with a background of producing and restoring classic and vintage performance cars from the thirties through to the fifties, such as Bugattis and Alfa Romeos, and are located at Paraná City Airport. “The idea of producing classic aircraft came from working every day alongside the Second Brigade Air Force. We have to do something that flies” said the company president Leonidas Jorge Anadón. He chose the Avro 504K as a subject due to the type being the first aircraft to be manufactured (under licence) in Argentina. The Fábrica Militar de Aviones – FMA – (Military Aircraft Factory) of Córdoba built around 34 Avro 504s from 1928.
The first replica built – serial LV-X373 – made its maiden flight in February 2009 and went to Jerry Yagen’s Virginia based Military Aviation Museum. It was subsequently sold on to the Russian Federation as part of the museum’s down-sizing, which was underway at the time. MAM have since recovered and are no longer selling off any further airframes. Both replicas are powered by Rotec R3600 150hp radials, and three further examples are under construction. LV-X430 took to the air in November 2010 and is still owned by Pur Sang. It is being handled by Personal Plane Services of Booker whilst in the UK and is currently up for sale. It will return to Argentina if unsold.
The original Avro 504 made its maiden flight on 18 September 1913 and the appearance of the example at Goodwood celebrated its centenary which was supported by British Aviation 100 – an initiative founded to celebrate the centenary of the first all-British flight by Sir Alliott Verdon-Roe in 1909. Eric Verdon-Roe – grandson of Alliott and Revival regular – is chairman of British Aviation 100, which has and will continue to celebrate anniversaries related to Avro through the rest of the century.
Eric Verdon-Roe (in the cream blazer) at the Revival