Hundreds of aviation enthusiasts gathered at London Southend Airport on the evening of May 20 to watch resident Avro Vulcan XL426 perform a high-speed taxi-run
The event commemorated the 80th anniversary of the famous Dambusters attack on the Ruhr dams during World War Two. Before the taxi-run took place, a special showing of the 1955 feature film 'The Dam Busters', starring Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave, was shown on a big screen inside the Vulcan's hangar. The film was shown as part of this year's Southend Film Festival.
The Vulcan, owned and maintained by the Vulcan Restoration Trust charity, then took centre stage, venturing out onto the runway just as the sun began to set. The crowds gathered along the fence line, cameras and mobile phones at the ready. XL426 made two passes down the runway. The second of these was over 100 knots, with the Vulcan using its 44ft diameter brake parachute to help it come to a stop before turning off the runway and heading back toward the hangar.
The Dambusters raid was famously carried out by 617 Squadron. Vulcan XL426 also served with the same unit, during the 1950s, '60s and '70s. An ex-RAF crew comprising Bill Burnett, Kev Rumens and Jonathan Lazarri were at the Vulcan's controls for the two taxi-runs. Also on board were three lucky paying passengers. The Vulcan has recently emerged from an in-depth maintenance programme and is now ready for a busy 2023 ‘season’.
It'll next be on static display inside its hangar at London Southend Airport on Fathers' Day, Sunday 18 June, and its next taxiing date will be Saturday 16 September. See the website for more information.