The aviation heritage community was deeply saddened this week by the sudden passing of Professor Robert Pleming of Vulcan to the Sky Trust. Our Chair of Trustees for the Yorkshire Air Museum, Martin Withers DFC, shares his thoughts and memories of the man who was instrumental in enabling us all to enjoy Vulcan XH558 in flight.
“This morning I received the very sad news of the death of Dr Robert Pleming.
Robert was the man who took on the challenge, against huge hurdles and setbacks, to return Vulcan XH558 to flight. His determination and perseverance was inspirational.
This beautiful aircraft flew in displays for seven years and captured the hearts of millions of people. However Robert’s vision was not simply for all of us to see the aircraft in the sky again, but to ensure that the aircraft would be preserved in good condition in perpetuity, and to build a Hangar at Doncaster Airport to create an Engineering Academy, inspired by the Vulcan, to encourage young people to seek a career in Engineering and to enable them to challenge the changing world we live in.
The Vulcan to the Sky Trust are on the verge of achieving the final part of Robert’s dream to build this hangar, which sadly he will not see, however my sincere wish is that the funds will be found to complete the project as a memorial to Robert.
He will be sadly missed as Co-Chairman of the Heritage working Group of an all party Select Committee on General Aviation. His interest was not limited to the Vulcan.
He also played an important role as Chairman of Aviation Heritage UK whose main aim is to assist Air Museums to teach the history of flying and to preserve good examples of Heritage Aircraft to pass on to future generations .
Yorkshire Air Museum has been an active member of AHUK and is a leading player in live aircraft engineering.
I personally owe Robert a huge debt of gratitude for inviting me to fly 558 during the whole seven year period and to entrust me with the role of Chief Pilot for the last six years of its life until it was sadly grounded.
He will be sorely missed.
Martin Withers DFC
Chair of Trustees
Yorkshire Air Museum