Saturday, 15 August 2015

The Avro Heritage Museum hosts its first event

Although the Museum is not scheduled to be open to the public until October this year, as a special favor we today hosted the Vulcan Motorcycle Association.

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

The Vulcan Motorcycle Association's bikes at the Museum today

They arrived about lunchtime from their camp site in the Peak District, parked the bikes (mostly Kawasaki 'Vulcan' cruisers in the Harley Davidson style, hence the club name), and after meeting us they were given a presentation on the history of Alliot Verdon Roe and the company he founded, Avro. After a snack lunch they had a look around the as yet unfinished Museum interior and exhibits, and enjoyed conducted tours of the nose section of Vulcan XM602, which is located within the Museum. 

Being the Vulcan Motorcycle Association a photo call with the bikes under our resident Vulcan bomber XM603 was next on the agenda.

The bikes arranged in front of our resident Vulcan 

603 can no doubt expect more of this sort of attention once the Museum opens later this year 

Some interesting textual messages on the bikers' jackets 

With the Museum building in the background, XM603 looks favorably on the Vulcan Motorcycle Association's bikes

During a last look around the Museum one lady in the group told us her first husband had been tragically killed in a Vulcan accident. It happened in 1968 at RAF Cottesmore when Vulcan XM604 on an overshoot (go-around in today's terminology) of the airfield suffered a mechanical failure in no.2 engine. A compressor disc broke free and cut its way through the fuselage and bomb bay, disrupting the aircraft's flying controls rendering the aeroplane uncontrollable. The co-pilot ejected promptly, before it banked to about 110 degrees whereupon the pilot ejected having tried to keep the Vulcan in the air long enough for the four crew members in the back (who had no ejector seats) to bale out, but in the limited time available that wasn't possible and they all perished in the ensuing crash (Vulcans normally carried three in the back, but this sortie included an extra crew member).

The co-pilot suffered a broken leg during the ejection, but the captain had a remarkable escape. Although he had ejected with the aircraft at very low level and banked over the vertical, way outside the survival envelope of the ejector seat, his parachute caught in some overhead power lines, shorting out two, the arcing 'welding' the nylon of his 'chute to the wires and leaving him suspended a few feet above the ground. He hit his parachute release buckle and dropped unharmed onto Terra Firma!

I don't know if the lady realised it but the nose section we have that she wanted to climb up into so she could see where her late husband would have been sitting was from Vulcan XM602. The Complete Vulcan the bikes had been parked under was XM603. The aircraft her husband tragically died in that January day in 1968 was XM604.

While I was researching this incident I came across a report by a member of the recovery team sent to Cow Close Farm, Cottesmore, where the Vulcan crashed, that they had to dig quite deep in the farmyard to recover some of the wreckage. During recovery of XM604 they came across a WW2 B17 bomber door and some other unidentifiable wreckage. When they questioned the farmer he told them this was the fourth aircraft to crash in that location!