The Last Flying Vulcan Bomber Put On This Breathtaking Over-Water Display

After pulling off an amazing display at Royal International Air Tattoo last month, the last flying Avro Vulcan bomber, known by its serial number XH558, continues to be pushed to her absolute max for her final flying hours before retirement. This was fully apparent at this weekend’s Eastbourne Air Show near the the picturesque Beachy Head Cliffs in England.


The cliffs are a Mecca for aviation photographers and videographers, allowing them to shoot down on the air show’s acts as they flyby and reposition low over the water. The results of this unique setup are some of the best air show photographs and videos imaginable.


This season will be XH588’s last after flying on and off on private funds for the last eight years. The aircraft has now flown more than any other Vulcan bomber in history and needs a full engine and airframe overhaul which would be prohibitively expensive to afford and too complex for the companies who still support the jet and its 55 year old systems to accomplish anyway.

Dr Robert Pleming, the head of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, told The Telegraph the following regarding the XH588’s final curtain call:

“It’s pretty sad. We have worked very hard to get the aircraft back to flight initially, but we always knew that flying would have to come to a halt at some point because of the nature of the aircraft. It has a safe flying life which we can’t exceed. Sadly this is a set of issues that money can’t resolve, not even enormous amounts of money.”

XH558 entered service in 1960 and ended its active career with the RAF in 1984. It continued to fly until 1992 as the RAF’s display Vulcan before being sold to a private entity. It took to the air once again in 2007 and has amazed air show crowds in the UK ever since. XH588’s “second chance” is an amazing feat that will go down in aerospace history as an example of just what those with a passion for aviation can accomplish against great odds.

Contact the author at

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


James Young

There is a very good read in Vulcan 607 which is about the RAF flying a Vulcan down the to the Falklands in April 1982 to destroy Port Stanley airstrip, the airplane was 3 months from being scrapped and the trip was 4,000 miles more than the maximum range, it took 16 Victor tankers and 17 inflight refuellings.