Vulcan's first flight of the year will be to honour those who
contributed to the recapture of the Falkland Islands 30 years
On May 20th, the pilot who lead the famous Black Buck
1 raid on Port Stanley's runway will be back at the controls of a
Vulcan for the dedication of the new Falklands Memorial at the
National Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The flypast by the last airworthy representative of Britain's
V-Force will commemorate all those involved in the conflict,
evoking the remarkable 8,000 mile mission by a solo Vulcan,
supported by 11 Victor tankers, that began the recapture of the
Islands almost exactly 30 years ago.
Two of the RAF's most powerful Vulcans took-off from Ascension
Island on April 30th 1982. The aging aircraft, which
were about to be retired from service, had been rushed through an
upgrade programme at RAF Waddington that included new Electronic
Counter Measures and reinstatement of their air-to-air refuelling
The tanker force was sourced from RAF Marham, where air-to-air
refuelling specialists developed an elaborate logistics plan that
would allow the bombers to reach their target and return to
Soon after take-off, a faulty window seal forced Vulcan XM598
(commanded by squadron leader John Reeve) to return to Ascension,
leaving the back-up aircraft, Vulcan XM607 piloted by a young
flight lieutenant Martin Withers, to complete the mission. At
4 am on May 1st they approached the Islands at
300ft then climbed to attack height, Withers switching off his
headset so he wouldn't be distracted by the sounds of enemy radar
attempting to lock-on to his aircraft.
At 8,000ft the bombs were released, creating a crater on the
runway, disrupting the runway's foundations and damaging the
control tower. Withers turned his aircraft for home, scouring the
horizon for the last Victor tanker.
"We were running on fumes," he later said. "Bob Tuxford and his
crew coming over the horizon was the best sight on earth." Withers
won the DFC for his part in the action and Tuxford won the
Distinguished Flying Cross.
The last airworthy Vulcan, XH558The Spirit of Great Britain, is
operated by a charity which is currently raising funds to complete
her winter service. The dedication of the Falklands Memorial will
be the aircraft's first public flight of 2012, beginning a
spectacular Diamond Jubilee display season.
"I would like to congratulate the South Atlantic Medal
Association (SAMA82) for creating this memorial, which I am proud
to help dedicate in honour of all those who contributed to the
protection Her Majesty's subjects during the Falklands Conflict,"
said Martin Withers, who is now chief pilot of Vulcan to the Sky
Trust. "To fly this remarkable aircraft, knowing that so many
people associated with the conflict will be watching and
remembering, will be a deeply emotional experience."
How to help the Vulcan fly
The last flying Vulcan receives no funding from Government or
the RAF, so is almost entirely dependent on public generosity. To
find out how to help keep her flying, visit www.vulcantothesky.org
where there is also a history of the aircraft and a wide range of
Vulcan merchandise including the beautifully-illustrated
50th Anniversary book and a limited number of the
highly-regarded account of the Falklands mission,Vulcan 607, signed
by Black Buck 1, Squadron Leader Martin Withers DFC.