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By Dan Santy Monday 15 October 2012 Updated: 19/10 09:25
NEXT year will be the Vulcan bomber's last in the skies, it has been announced.
The much celebrated Cold War plane - painstakingly restored in Bruntingthorpe during a 15 year project costing £7 million - will stop flying at the end of next year.
Now based at Robin Hood Airport between Doncaster and Sheffield, it is the world's only airworthy Vulcan but is coming to the end of its flying life.
In a statement released by the Vulcan to the Skies trust, chief executive Dr Robert Pleming said the craft needed an expensive modification to strengthen her wings in order to fly.
But the trust's engineers have decided the £200,000 repair work is too risky and not worth it when the plane's engines will reach the end of their lifespan in around two years.
In a statement, Dr Pleming said: "Whilst it may be theoretically possible to continue flying for two or three more years, the factors are such that even if the wing modification was completed successfully, it is quite possible she would have to stop flying early in 2014.
"Few will be able to deny that returning Vulcan to flight and operating her at air displays for six years in front of millions of adoring spectators will be seen as a huge achievement.
"It is therefore with particular sadness I have to tell you we are planning for next year to be Vulcan's final flying year, and so, consequently, 2013 may well be your last opportunity to see a Vulcan fly."
The plane - a symbol of Britain's defence of the Falklands in the 1980s - attracted funding from around the world during its restoration and has continued to do so in the years since when it has been a key attraction at airshows across the country.
It was based in Lutterworth for several years before being moved to RAF Brize Norton in 2009.
Around £300,000 of funding still needs to be raised to see the Vulcan through the next year of air shows.
Dr Pleming said: "There is certainly huge love and affection for the Vulcan. It would be almost criminal not to do our best to ensure it is able to fly to the limit of her airworthy life."
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