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Vulcan Bomber and Viper Jet Team

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Vulcan Bomber

The star of Whitehaven Festival 2009 was undoubtedly the Vulcan Bomber. The crowds around the harbour swelled towards the end of Sunday afternoon despite fears it might not be able to appear. As the time approached everybody seemed to stop being interested in the numerous other entertainments on offer and started craning their necks to look at the sky.

Vulcan bomber aprroaching Whitehaven Festival 2009

Gradually, the sleek face-on outline of the Vulcan increased as it approached from the north along the coast. Suddenly it reached Whitehaven and as it banked that famous, huge delta wing triangle appeared above, just beyond the outer harbour.

Vulcan Bomber banking West from Whitehaven

It made several passes over the harbour with a series of long sweeping turns and impressed everyone with the graceful way it was able to turn in a relatively small area for such a huge plane.

Vulcan approaches over Whitehaven's West Pier

Hundreds of people had gathered on the end of the Whitehaven's West Pier in order to get a really close view as the Vulcan passed overhead.

Vulcan Bomber at Whitehaven Festival 2009

This is the last Vulcan flying and so everyone was aware that they might never get this chance again to see this famous plane in the air.

Vulcan near the Candlestick Whitehaven

The Candlestick monument is a good place to see the displays as it is so elevated above the harbour that you are almost level with the planes as they fly past and so many had gathered there to see the Vulcan bomber.

Vulcan with the bomb doors open

The Vulcan did a pass with the huge bomb bay doors open which were designed to deliver a 10,000lb bomb load - specifically Britain's nuclear deterrent during the cold war with the Soviet Union. The need to carry such a large load over a long distance almost dictated the delta wing design. The shape, along with enclosing the engines within the wings to enhance the streamlining needed for fuel efficiency, had an incidental effect of making the Vulcan almost invisible to RADAR, virtually creating the first stealth bomber.

Vulcan banks over Whitehaven South Beach fairground

Another good place to see the Vulcan was at the top of the Ferris wheel at the festival fun-fair on South Beach but it would be hard to guarantee you'd be in just the right place as it passed overhead.

Avro Vulcan XH558 from the side at Whitehaven festival

In no time at all the Avro Vulcan XH558 made its final pass over Whitehaven and disappeared into the distance bringing to an end another very successful festival.

The Viper Jet Team

The Viper Jet Team at Whitehaven Festival 2009

New to this year's show having only formed a few months ago was the Viper Jet Team who fly 4  BAC 167 Strikemaster aircraft. Unfortunately, not all the team were able to perform at the Whitehaven Festival. On the Saturday when there was a lot of low lying cloud only two planes featured and their display was slightly restricted. On the Sunday, 3 of the aircraft were on show and the photos show the tight formations they were able to perform.

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The Strikemaster is based on the Jet Provost trainer (also seen at the festival) uprated to a combat role and has been used by many of the smaller nations favoured by the UK such as Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.

Photographers taking pictures of the Viper Team

The planes did some very low passes across the bay around Whitehaven harbour and the numerous photographers around the Candlestick monument found them well within range of their long lenses.

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The team get their name from the Rolls Royce Viper turbojet used to power the Strikemaster which can lift it up to 40,000 feet at a rate of 5000 feet per minute and propel it to a speed of 520mph.

Team Viper Strikemaster

As well as the formation flying the individual jets from the Viper team performed a series of manoeuvres.  This Strikemaster in the livery of the Royal Saudi Air Force can be seen banking with the twin seats visible through the cockpit canopy.

Strikemaster Mk. 87 G-UVNR at Whitehaven festival

This is a Strikemaster Mk. 87 with registration G-UVNR was used by the Kenyan Air Force for nearly 20 years thereafter by the Botswana Defence Force until 1997.

Strikemaster climbing in inverted position

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External links

The official Whitehaven Festival website

Vulcan Bomber support website

Team Viper website