The Vulcan Howl

June 05, 2020 3 min read

The Vulcan Howl

I was lucky enough to speak with someone who experienced an exceptionally memorable Vulcan flypast well over a decade go.

 Here's what he had to say:

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It was Thursday 13 August 2009. Myself, along with several other aviation enthusiasts, has set up camp in the "sheep field" at the end of Runway 27, Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) Yeovilton. “Sheep field” is exactly what it sounds like - a field full of sheep - which is situated VERY close to the runway end and is only separated by a small wooden picket fence.

I had arrived very early in the morning and had watched (at very close range) most of the days arrivals. It was late in the day and only a small band of die hard photographers were left. Most of us were about to leave. Fortunately a couple of photographers near us (who had better radio tech than we did) told us that they had heard that a Vulcan was about to take off and head for us at Yeovilton. The photographers kept us updated with what they had heard over the radio - that she had started her engines, then she was taxiing, then she had taken off. We were even being told where she was as she headed south towards us.

By now it was getting late in the evening, and the light was fading fast...not helped by huge black clouds to the north of the airfield. Suddenly, we could see her heading towards us from the north! I was standing slightly to the right of the glide path to get the best photo from this slight angle. Others were positioned directly under the approach. To my experienced (but un-trained) eye, I sensed she was coming in incredibly low.

I only had a small zoom on my old Olympus DSLR. When I saw the Vulcan was completely filling the eye piece, I looked up and was excited, but a little shocked, to see she was VERY close, and still descending. I could see she was unlikely to reach the runway. I looked up and forgot about the camera as I was fixated on watching her approaching so close, and so low. I've seen many Vulcans coming in to land but this seemed different!

Then there was a massive noise as full power was applied, and she went over our heads incredibly low - I’m guessing maybe treetop height. The noise was unbelievable! Some people who had elected to watch from directly below were now running left and right. The sheep in the field, which were very used to jets landing close overhead, had scattered as well. I remember ducking (as if that would have helped!) and then she was over us, and climbing away as she headed down the runway to do a circuit to land.

People were laughing, picking themselves up, shaking their heads and generally sharing an incredible experience. She came around again and made a more "normal" approach and landing which was still pretty exciting, but a little less scary.

Overall it was an incredible experience and I was so glad to have witnessed it. Before this day I was aware of a slight ringing in my ears from motorcycling and previous airshows, but there was a definite increase in tinnitus after the Vulcan episode and it has never gone away. I consider it a small price to pay! Looking back on that memorable day, I do shudder sometimes when I see just how low she came over us, but I would pay good money to do it one more time.



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