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Vulcan XH558 Mid Season Update (Read 1688 times)
 
Roger Whitcomb
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Vulcan XH558 Mid Season Update
Aug 10th, 2010 at 8:40pm
 
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Mid-Season Update 10th August 2010

Dear Supporters,

After a hectic few months for the whole team, we have finally been able take a short break ahead of the second half of the season, which really commences in mid-August at Lowestoft, followed by the opportunity to thrill huge crowds at Bournemouth, Shoreham, Dunsfold, Jersey & Leuchars.

The break has given us time to reflect on what we have achieved, and where we go from here.

I must start by thanking the engineering team, the aircrew, and the Marshall Aerospace and CAA staff, who made the transition from maintenance to operation of XH558 with a revalidated Permit to Fly at the start of July so swift and so successful.

Given where we were at the beginning of the year, with the 50th Birthday goal of displaying at RAF Waddington, it’s a tribute to everyone concerned that things eventually went as smoothly as they did. It is a credit to the whole team, to the volunteers and to you, our supporters, that we have achieved so much once again – despite all the challenges.

That said, if the Trust had not benefited from a huge and spectacularly well-timed anonymous donation in February, the situation today would be dramatically different!

Looking forward, over the next few Updates I would like to brief you on some of the things we have been doing to secure the longer-term financial future for XH558.

The Vulcan to the Sky Trust needs to have a viable and sustainable business plan, which is not reliant on last minute crisis appeals to fund its future.

Despite the huge success we achieved in 2009, with over 2.5million spectators seeing XH558 at over 30 events, we realise that without that anonymous donation in February, the Winter Funding Appeal that we had commenced last October would not have reached its target early enough for us to complete the engineering programme for the 2010 air display season.

Looking at the results of the Winter Appeal, we can see that fewer supporters are coming forward with donations, this despite the fact that XH558 was seen by far more people in 2009 than at any time since 1992!  We are clearly not yet getting the right message out to a wide-enough audience.

Over the past few months, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust team, including its Board of Trustees, have been looking at ideas to make the project more attractive to investors, sponsors and philanthropists, as well as to our loyal supporters. We have started turning these wide-ranging ideas into actions. This has urgency, since we already need to assure the financial future of XH558 for this coming winter.

At Farnborough, we made a number of announcements about how we are taking the Trust forward. These announcements included: the launch of a new mission for the Trust to link the observed Vulcan Effect on the young, to the idea that careers in design & engineering are fun and worthwhile; sponsorship marketing based on this new mission; the launch of a new Annual Appeal with supporting press, media and advertising activities; and a vastly improved and more profitable merchandising operation.

I shall let you know what we are doing about the new mission to inspire the young in design & engineering as we work on the details with others, but I am delighted to report that the response we have had to this from both aerospace and manufacturing industries, and associated industry bodies, has been most positive.

The importance of both the monthly and one-off donations from our supporters will remain very significant, even in our new plans. Rather than mount an appeal only when we see the imminent need for funds, we have now launched an Annual Appeal, which will run for the entire year, with the target of £1million over the year, which we are of course strongly promoting during the airshow season.

All donations, whether they be monthly or one-off, will go towards the Appeal, and we will publish the amount of money raised every month.

It’s all very well setting up an Appeal, but we need to tell everyone about it. The Annual Appeal is featuring in our airshow programme material, in airshow commentaries and in press releases, so those attending air displays should hear about it. But we need to take the message much wider, and to repeat it more often.

We have therefore invested in a much more extensive media and advertising campaign, and have brought on board extra manpower to help, with the goal of promoting XH558 and the Trust to a far larger audience, importantly outside the traditional aviation enthusiast circles.

For example, we have mounted full-page advertisements in publications such as:
°      Flight International
°      Armed Forces Day Magazines
°      Haymarket Motoring Titles
°      SAGA Magazine
°      Top Gear Magazine
°      Best of British
°      Classic Car Weekly
°      BBC History
All together, these have an audited circulation of well over 1.5 million readers.

Tied in with this has been investment in a complete re-design and re-branding of our website and online forums, so we can capture and retain far more supporter interest over the season.

A further positive contribution has come from our re-vamped merchandise operations, through the Vulcan Village, the Vulcan to the Sky Club Stands and the webshop, with sales exceeding all expectations.

The Annual Appeal and our merchandising will not provide adequate funding to keep us going through 2011. We need to secure some big names who wish to be associated with us over a period of time, to be in partnership and to reap the unique benefits of association that we are able to offer. Now that corporates are beginning to invest in marketing again, it’s the right time to move forward on sponsorship. More about what we are doing on this in the next update.

For the time being, please may I ask you to continue to help us by promoting XH558 at every opportunity to all your family, friends,  colleagues and local communities, and asking them to sign XH558’s 50th Birthday Card! Any small or larger donations you might be able to raise in the next few months will be as highly appreciated as ever.

In return, I can assure you of our unstinting efforts to gain a secure future for XH558 for this winter, for 2011 and beyond.

With many thanks for your continuing support and enthusiasm.

Robert Pleming
Vulcan to the Sky Trust
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Roger Whitcomb
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Reply #1 - Aug 29th, 2010 at 2:05pm
 
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Dear Supporters,
One thing that none of us have any control over is the weather, but the weather certainly has control over what XH558 is able to do!
As you know, legally XH558 is restricted to flying under “Visual Flight Rules”, in simple terms good visibility and a cloud base no lower than two thousand feet. Last weekend at Bournemouth, its airport and at Shoreham, the weather was so bad we had no opportunity to fly, let alone display.
“Gutted” is an appropriate word to describe the feeling of missing the opportunity to fly for nearly three-quarters of a million expectant people at the six air displays where XH558 was supposed to display last weekend – a fifth of our planned displays this season.
Not only were we forced to let our fans down, but our cashflow suffered from the lack of the anticipated airshow appearance fees – to the extent of nearly £50,000 in lost profit.
The Weather Gods of course had the last laugh too, because the flying conditions at the sixth and last display venue, Sywell in Northamptonshire on Sunday, were reported as being perfect.
Now that we are within a few weeks of the end of our 2010 display season, we are looking to the future, and as ever, the need to keep XH558 flying for the benefit of the public and her knowledgeable and enthusiastic supporters.
The No.1 Goal above everything else is to make sure that XH558 is flying in 2012 for the 60th – Diamond – Anniversary of the first flight of the Vulcan type. We must make sure that we achieve this, to the sacrifice of almost everything else, because so to do will be such an important testament to the excellence of British engineering, to the memory of all those who served during the Cold War, to the still vital strategic policy of deterrence, and to the huge support from the British public that the Vulcan retains. Our plans going forward will be geared to guaranteeing that this goal of flying in 2012 is achieved, but I know now that there will be significant funding challenges ahead.
On a much more positive note, I am delighted to report that well over 10,000 people have now signed XH558’s 50th Birthday Card on our website. Please take the opportunity to read some of the hugely affectionate comments – they are ample evidence of exactly why we need to keep XH558 flying.
We will of course continue our unstinting efforts to gain a secure future for XH558, but in the meantime please join the rest of the Vulcan team in keeping fingers crossed for good flying weather for the rest of the season.
As ever, many thanks for your continuing support and enthusiasm.
Robert Pleming
Vulcan to the Sky Trust
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