Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The last Vulcan display at Prestwick also had a hint of drama

I couldn’t make it to the display at Ayr, but it seems the real action took place at Prestwick, as I just learnt from this video I spotted.

The following description of events is quoted from the video owner:

On the 5th of September I went across to Prestwick to watch the Scottish Airshow 2015. Primarily I wanted to see the Vulcan one last time before she’s retired in the next month or so.
Having arrived at the airport we waited for the Vulcan XH558 with great anticipation.
Once we saw him over Ayr my excitement grew even more.
He called up Prestwick tower to do a flyover the airfield , then make a right hand turn to then land on runway 30.
However after he made that turn things seemed to go wrong. Rather than report final he then did a second flyover , and started entering orbits to the north of the airfield.
After it became clear he was having a nosewheel gear issue , a Spitfire of the BBMF called up and asked if there was anyway he could help by giving the vulcan an inspection from underneath the aircraft.
Once they had determined the Vulcans speed the spitfire confirmed that his nosewheel was not extended fully and that there was nothing blocking it from locking into place.
Following this the Vulcan entered into some very aggressive yawing , both left and right in an attempt to free whatever was holding the nosewheel back from extending and locking.
After some time they were successful and initiated a landing.
We were all waiting with bated breath, not knowing whether or not it had indeed fully locked into place.
Thankfully the landing went well, and as you can hear at the end of the video was great relief that everything had gone so well.
Praise must also go to the Spitfire pilot for taking the initiative in helping the crew of the Vulcan resolve the issue.

That brings back memories of the Prestwick Air Show (at the airport then) which had the drama of a World War II aircraft suffering a similar stuck undercarriage, which refused to be bumped loose, and eventually had to be ditched and lost in the sea off Turnberry, which was chosen as the beat way to ensure no other damage, and safe recovery of the pilot.

Thank goodness the Vulcan trip to Scotland did not end in similar fashion – although I suspect they might have ultimately dumped fuel and done a belly landing with the larger aircraft. This is the procedure I’ve seen in the past, on American aircraft of the same size in recent years.

It seems the crew would have been aware of the problem before arriving back at the airport.

Looking at this recording of the full display, it includes views of the usual lowering and raising of the undercarriage for some of the passes, and while I can’t be categoric of the full sequence having been captured, it is clear that the nosewheel is not fully forward in any of the shots:


September 11, 2015 - Posted by | Aviation, Cold War, military | , ,


  1. Fascinating video! Prestwick, with it’s longest UK runway, was probably the ideal place to cope with such an emergency as this! Excellent work by all involved, particularly the two pilots. The fact that the weather conditions appear ideal probably also helped.

    Sent from my iPad



    Comment by Ron Leitch | September 11, 2015

  2. From: Secret Scotland To: Sent: Friday, 11 September 2015, 10:53 Subject: [New post] The last Vulcan display at Prestwick also had a hint of drama I watched the display live online and noticed then that the nose gear was not locked down when she flew pastso I was not surprised that it caused a delay in the remainder of the display. It brought back memories of my days at R.A.F. Scampton in the 1960s where I was a member of a servicing team maintaining the Blue Steel equipped Vulcans of 27, 83 and 617 squadrons.  One particular maintenance check was a requirement to retract the landing gear and operate the emergency blowdown system which discharged high pressure nitrogen into the down lines of theU/C hydraulic system. After carrying out this check the routine was to bleed the system to remove the residual nitrogen and then RECHARGE the emergency nitrogen bottle, the charging point of which was located on the roof of the nose undercarriage bay, only accessible  with the gear down and the doors open. One team, (not ours) was carrying out this check and neglected to recharge the nitrogen bottle. They then proceeded to carry out a final retraction test and  guess what ! , the gear , all three, went up and locked OK but when they selected down all three gears remained firmly locked UP. With no access to the charging point, the only option was to cut an access hole through the double skin of the nose gear, recharge the system, and do another blowdown, this time ensuring that they recharged it before risking another retraction. It was a long time before that team lived that one down.Brian G  #yiv6429800380 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6429800380 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6429800380 a.yiv6429800380primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6429800380 a.yiv6429800380primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6429800380 a.yiv6429800380primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6429800380 a.yiv6429800380primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6429800380 | Apollo posted: “I couldn’t make it to the display at Ayr, but it seems the real action took place at Prestwick, as I just learnt from this video I spotted.The following description of events is quoted from the video owner:On the 5th of September I went across to Pres” | |


    Comment by Brian Goodwin | September 11, 2015

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