Harborough woman who loved this ‘beautiful Vulcan’

One of Joanne Hill's photgraphs of the Vulcan
One of Joanne Hill's photgraphs of the Vulcan

Joanne Hill, a married mother-of-two from Market Harborough, has a not-that-secret passion.

It’s got a wingspan of almost 100 feet, and a cruising speed of 600 miles per hour.

Yes, it’s an aircraft - an Avro Vulcan XH588 to be precise. For seven years, Joanne has been photographing the world’s last airworthy Vulcan, an aircraft that has a special place in the hearts of the Harborough district’s people, after it spent eight years at Bruntingthorpe Airfield.

“I first saw her at the Bournemouth Air Show” explained Joanne.

“She came out of the mist with that roar and she was beautiful and completely unique - there isn’t anything in the sky that compares.”

Joanne, who works in a town newsagents, has since followed the Vulcan all over the country, camera in hand.

“I go with my dad; sometimes with my husband too” said Joanne.

“I’ve never been a girly girl, and this has been a fantastic hobby for me, and opened up a whole new world of aviation photography.”

The Vulcan is a jet-powered delta-wing bomber, operated by the RAF from 1956 until 1984.

As part of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, the Vulcan initially carried Britain’s first nuclear weapon, the Blue Danube gravity bomb.

The Vulcan XH588 - known as The Spirit of Great Britain - was restored to flying condition by the ‘Vulcan to the Sky Trust’ after years of effort and more than £7 million of fundraising, including a £2.7 million Lottery grant.

It was restored over a period of eight years at Bruntingthorpe Airfield, near Lutterworth. Vulcan XH558 roared into the air again, from Bruntingtorpe, on Thursday, October 18, 2007.

“It’s a lot of money, but I think it’s money well spent” said Joanne. “And it’s not funded by the Government, it’s funded purely by public donation. It’s given a lot of people a lot of joy to go and watch her. She’s always the star of the airshow. You can see people leaving after she’s been flying.”

Eight years on and the restored Vulcan is in its last “season” of display flying.

Three expert companies who check the aircraft’s airworthiness have withdrawn their support.

“I’ll be sad to see it go” admitted Joanne. “The last flight will be a really sad day, but she’s left me with a legacy.

“She’s opened up a whole new area of interest for me, and I certainly won’t be putting the camera away now.”