The Vulcan to the Sky Trust is to help return another iconic British jet bomber to the UK air show circuit. Announced on 19 May 2016, the trust plan to have Canberra B2/6 WK163 in the air by 2018, in time for the RAF’s centenary.
WK163 is very much an icon amongst icons, as she spent much of her career prototyping advanced propulsion concepts and radar systems. Always at the centre of British scientific and engineering aviation development and innovation. On 28 August 1957, flown by Michael Randupp, WK163 climbed into the record books when a Napier Double Scorpion rocket motor fired her to 70,310 ft – a new world altitude record – during advanced testing over the English Channel.
“WK163 was a celebrity even amongst the research aircraft,” said one senior engineer who worked on world-leading and secretive advanced research programmes. “She flew to the edge of space. It was an astonishing achievement.”
“WK163 embodies so much that is remarkable about British courage and innovation in the Jet Age” suggested Dr. Robert Pleming, the man who led the restoration team that returned Vulcan XH558 to the skies.
Having not flown since 2007, WK163 has since been housed at Coventry Airport. She will be moved to Doncaster’s Robin Hood Airport where the restoration work will take place.