Thousands line seafront to see iconic bomber

Vulcan over Hastings. Pic by Frank Copper. 15/6/13
Vulcan over Hastings. Pic by Frank Copper. 15/6/13

A THUNDEROUS blast of its mighty Rolls-Royce Olympus engines marked the arrival of the world’s only flying Vulcan bomber to our shores on Saturday.

Despite the windy conditions, thousands of fans thronged the seafront to catch a glimpse of the only plane that can really make you shiver just watching it.

Traffic was brough to a standstill along the Pelham seafront at 3.45pm when the Vulcan Xh558 first appeared over our skies.

It was the first time in 30 years that the mighty “mother of Concorde” had been seen in the skies above Hastings.

And pilot Kevin Rumens did not disappoint as the began a mesmeric 15 minute display along the shore line.

It was hard to believe how a machine more than 50 years old could still move so effortlessly across the sky.

At times the Vulcan was just a few hundred feet above the ground to the delight of the crowd massed below.

And when Mr Rumens opened the four engines up to climb into an almost vertical ascent, the noise was deafening.

The sound seemed to echo back from the walls and windows of office blocks like Cavendish House.

Then came the missed approach where Mr Rumens brought the landing wheels down and then approached straight to land.

For a moment it felt like the Vulcan was coming straight for us.

Then with a flick of a wing, it banked right and started climbing high again.

The next run saw the wheels taken in and then a last hurrah with the bomb doors opening and showing off just how big it’s payload can be.

These monsters of the air could transport 21,000lbs of bombs, that’s more than nine tonnes or about the weight of a single decker bus.

It’s even more impressive to think these giant transporters could fly 6,000 miles non-stop to bomb a small apron strip at an airport on the other side of the world.

It certainly put the XH558’s 300 mile trip down from Doncaster and back into perspective.

And with a swfit bank to the left, she was off down the coast to entertain fans in Rye before touching down at Manston Aiport in Kent ahead of the South East Air Show tomorrow (SAT).

Life-long Vulcan fan Kerry Stevens, who was working from her seafront office on the day, said: “I could feel the hairs of the back of my neck start to prick up.

“It was just an awesome experience.

“To see it flying so gracefully across our skies after so many decades was just fantastic.

“I hope it just keeps going and going forever. There will never be anything like it ever again.”

Organiser and local impressario Roger Crouch said: “It was lovely to be asked about the text number to donate to the Vulcan by a lot of people.

“I saw youngsters in awe of the aircraft with their parents or grand parents telling them about the Vulcan and when they first saw it.

“Great memories for some, those who saw the Vulcan for the very first time will have been amazed by it’s grace and power.

“Kevin Rumens would have had a battle with the slow passes into the gusting winds but it was a great display.

“We must give thanks to Hastings Steam punk society and the 1066 Pipes and Drums group.

“Seeing the Steam punks in their splendid costumes, Typhoon simulator and Pipes and drums all together was colourfully bizarre but brilliant.

“It was a brilliant day and hopefully not the last time that we will see this legendary bomber over our skies.”