I once saw XH558. She (all ‘planes are “hers”) at Southport Airshow.
This is how it happened. I was sitting on the beach and this thing came in stage right. It was fucking utterly awesome. I have seen many flying machines but this was something else. At the left end of the beach it stood on it’s tail and lit the fires and went vertical. I can still feel the heat of the four Rolls Royce Olympus Turbojets. The very fire of the Gods. It is on my top ten list along with Angel Falls in Georgia, USA, the Caldera of Santorini, Greece, at dawn, the Tennessee River in er… Tennessee, the birth place of Aphrodite in Cyprus, The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, this Thinkpad, a pair of Phantoms supersonic over Bamburgh Beach, the buses of Malta and some other things. Most recently the Glasgow Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre. I have seen things on three continents. Wondrous things. But that ‘plane…
It was emotional. I have seen flying things. I have seen Enola Gay (static display and surrounded by plexiglass to prevent numpties damaging it – I had to go to Virginia for that). The Vulcan was something else mind. So low, so fast, so agile.
It made a tour of the North West on Saturday. A goodbye tour. I shall never see it fly again and nor shall you. For shame! It was built just up the road from me in Stockport. AVRO no longer exists. Oh, Hell as a kid I got onto, in Newcastle, my town of birth, HMS Illustrious which was on a courtesy visit to it’s home port on the Tyne. Now that was at Swan Hunter. I think the Neptune Yard. All gone so many years ago.
So very sad.
But what is sadder is this…
I have a thing. I am good at maths. Very good. This means I am good at physics and not bad with computers. But I am smart enough to know my limits. I am utterly pantage with languages. My wife doesn’t (shame!) know dy/dx of sin(x) = cos(x) but she does know what a gerund is. What the fuck is a gerund anyway? And how come people get interested in the human and not the universal? Maths is the universal. It is so true it is scary.
Now you either see the beauty or you don’t. Of course there are also Maxwell’s Equations. And the equations of Thermo-D. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!” Do you have any idea how many accessible microstates exist for a can of Coke at 300K? It’s a lot. And this is all true.
So, I know about this stuff. Yes, but as I hinted, there are shed-loads I know nothing about. I also know about flight. Why? Well I know aerodynamics and things. I also love ‘planes. I have loved them since before I could read. I know ‘planes. Lads my age had posters of Kylie. I had an F-15 on the wall. I’d love to fly the F-15. What I’d like to do with Ms Minogue is a matter between her me and the wallpaper.
So, there are things I know about and things I couldn’t pretend to (though I do understand Kylie – I just can’ get her out of my head – not in that frock anyway). So when XH558 got stricken from the list I was annoyed. And then I was mental when I read this…
This is from the Daily Fail…
Britons given a final chance to see an icon of the skies as the Vulcan fighter jet begins its farewell tour of the nation.
I do know about aircraft and that ain’t a “fighter”. That was designed to slam nuclear weapons at Moscow. Yes, it was that awesome. And it still was when I saw it. It was awesome when a Vulcan did Operation Blackbuck. At the time the longest bombing raid ever. Subsequently the USAF has beaten that with B-1s, B-2s and the very old soldier the B-52 (I read an interview in The Times with a B-52 pilot whose Grand-father was also a B-52 pilot – when it finally quits the youngest airframes will be 80 years old. It has generally been used against goat-molestering Qu’ran botherers recently (Commies before). Odd thing about the 2 billion dollar B-2 is that nobody at the USAF or Northrop-Grumman thought to include a bed. So, for 36 hour missions, the aircrew installed a chaise longue for a bit of a kip. And this was to bomb the utter wrecks who couldn’t even conceive of a stealth bomber. I mean these were folks who banned the flying of kites.
You see I know my limits. I know a lot about various stuff. I also know there are many things I know little about. So the retirement really narks.
And calling the ‘plane a fighter just adds pignorence to injury. Thanks Daily Fail.