Derek Mason reports on another Vulcan's big day
The annual Wings and Wheels day at Wellesbourne Mountford in Warwickshire, held this year on 22 June, was its usual fun day for many enthusiasts who came by the thousand to see Vulcan B2 XM655 in all her glory, dashing up and down the main runway.
Whilst not unkind, the weather was sunny but very, very windy. "Fourteen gusting thirty-four knots", the tower was telling the few aircraft to brave the winds. Normally at Wellesbourne there are a number of static aircraft to see as well as pleasure flights (this year in the Air Atlantique Devon) but apart from a Bulldog, the Devon and a DHFS Squirrel HT1, there was only the 'grand old lady' herself.
XM655 spent the morning in a fine position to be viewed and photographed, and at about 10:45 the engines were started prior to the first of the day's two runs. She moved from the hardstanding under her own power onto the runway, where she paraded her way along, showing first her nose and then her tail.
Back to the hardstanding where she sat with a self-satisfied look until 13:45, when it was time for the main event, the high-speed taxi run. Back to the runway she went, but this time right to the threshold. A pause, and then we heard the mighty Olympus engines spool up to maybe eighty percent while the Captain held her on the brakes. Full power! And off into the fearsome crosswind she went.
Due to the severe cross-wind, Captain Mike Pollitt cut the power with only a quarter of the runway gone, smoke billowing from at least one engine. The crew brought her quickly back to the hardstanding and shut her down.
The remainder of the day's proceedings were to count the votes for the best classic car - after all this is a wings and WHEELS show, and to present the prize to the winner. I have to say that I personally voted for the yellow Reliant Robin van with its 'Del boy' theme. David Jason would have loved it.