2015 will be remembered for the Vulcan, XH558, and its final ever flight in October.
The only remaining flying Vulcan bomber has landed for the last time. And we were lucky enough to capture her last ever flying display.
The distinctive delta-winged Cold War aircraft, which once carried Britain’s nuclear deterrent, took off from Doncaster Robin Hood Airport for a short final trip on that Wednesday afternoon.
Organisers had kept details of the final flight secret until the last minute over fears that dangerously large crowds would throng the airport for one last chance to see the aircraft.
A final nationwide tour held earlier in the month was nearly cancelled over police concerns of an influx of thousands of enthusiasts turning up at once would effectively shut down the small airport.
Hundreds of thousands are believed to have glimpsed Vulcan XH558 as it spent two days doing flypasts around the country.
Martin Withers, who led the 1982 Vulcan raids on the Falklands, was the pilot for the final flight.
As he prepared, he said: “Everyone asks me what is so special about this aircraft and why people love it. Really the people who fly it are the wrong people to ask. It’s such a combination of grace and beauty of just seeing this thing fly.
“Just to see it fly along, it’s so graceful. And then that combines with the sense of power and manoeuvrability you’ve got with this aircraft and the vibrations it makes. It just seems to turn people on emotionally, they really love it.”
The XH558, which first came into RAF service in 1960, has been kept in the air by a volunteer trust since 2007.
This summer, millions of people have watched it as it has made a farewell tour of the UK before its permit-to-fly expires at the end of October.
The Vulcan To The Sky Trust, which brought the 55-year-old aircraft back to flight eight years ago, has accepted advice from supporting companies that they no longer have the expertise to keep it airworthy as engineers retire from the industry.
XH558 will stay in its Cold War hanger at Robin Hood Airport – once RAF Finningley – where the trust is planning a visitor centre and also to continue “fast taxiing” the massive bomber around the runways.
The trust had to keep details of that final flight under wraps until the last minute, as the aircraft has become such a popular attraction.
“We will preserve this aeroplane for the nation in working order, if not in flying order, for the future as the centrepiece of a heritage centre.”
Mr Sharman said: “She is very beautiful, she is very powerful, she is is totally unique, totally distinct. And that delta shape seems to inspire both young and old.”
Stephanie Dale tweeted: “I feel silly that I’ve just shed a tear over a hunk of metal. But not just any hunk; the awesome feat of engineering that is @XH558 #vulcan”