THE Vulcan bomber will be grounded during the next Bournemouth Air Festival unless donors can raise an emergency £800,000.
The giant plane was arguably the star of the 2009 festival when its distinctive “howl” was heard by 1.2m people.
The Vulcan bomber below in action at the Bournemouth Air Festival 2009
It is the only flying example of its kind but engineers say it is suffering faster than expected metal fatigue and needs urgent work if it is to be safe to fly again.
The charity that operates it, Vulcan to the Sky, has been forced to bring forward essential engineering works to strengthen two parts.
The plane already costs £1.8m a year to run and the £800,000 is needed on top of that.
The Vulcan boosted crowds by 10-30 per cent at each of the 33 events where it appeared during 2009 and the biggest crowds of all were during the Bournemouth festival.
It is scheduled to be one of the star attractions at the 2010 festival on August 19th to 22.
Navigator Andy Marson explained her appeal at this year’s festival to the Echo.
He said: “She’s large, she’s noisy and she’s manoeuvrable. So she has everything going for her and the crowds love her.
He added: “The Vulcan really is the people’s plane because without the financial backing of the British public she would not be flying.”
The plane was the RAFs display model until 1993 but only started flying again in October 2007 after a £7m refurbishment and is the most complex plane brought out of retirement without the help of the government.
The Vulcan made a surprise flypast at the 2009 festival and two full displays, including the ‘Power Hour’ on the final day, which also featured the Red Arrows and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Vulcan bombers were equipped with nuclear and hydrogen bombs. They were Britain’s main cold war deterrent from 1957 to 1969 when they were replaced by Polaris submarines.