A giant of the sky, she served the Royal Air Force with distinction for 50 years – but after the VC10’s retirement from service last week the last operational example of the aircraft landed at Bruntingthorpe yesterday (Wednesday).
The long-range British airliner, used by the RAF for refuelling, was the last of several examples of the aircraft to land at Bruntingthorpe for dismantling.
It is hoped one will be kept intact to join other aircraft in the Cold War Jets collection at the district site.
The VC10’s final mission was supposed to be a secret, though word got out on online forums and dozens of enthusiasts went to the airfield to watch a chapter in aviation history unfold as it came into land for the final time after a flight from RAF Brize Norton.
Originally due in at midday, the flight was delayed due to fog and cloud cover and touched down at about 4pm.
The long-serving aircraft is being replaced by Britain’s largest ever military aircraft, the Voyager, having served the country since 1963.
The last two remaining operational VC10s, were taken on a ceremonial four-hour flight round Britain last week as a final salute to half a century of distinguished service.
The prototype of the plane made its maiden flight on June 29, 1962, and the VC10 – made by Vickers – went on to be used by commercial airlines and the military.
Aerospace and defence analyst Howard Wheeldon said the VC10 was Britain’s last attempt to design and build a long-haul aircraft to compete with American-built craft.
It still holds the record of being the fastest non-supersonic commercial airliner in the world.
He said: “I have to admit to a huge soft spot for the Vickers VC10, primarily because it is a British-designed and built aircraft that has been in service with the Royal Air Force all through my professional working life.”
He added: “In the 51 years since this brilliantly-designed piece of engineering first took to the skies, the VC10 has provided exemplary service to the Royal Air Force and in commercial airline service.
“Since the first aircraft were delivered to 10 Squadron in 1966, VC10 carried British troops and military service personnel all over the world with reliability and efficiency.
“Since 1979 when the aircraft began to replace the Handley Page Victor in the tanker refuelling role, VC10 has supported RAF, USAF and NATO aircraft in this role in just about every conflict that Her Majesty’s armed forces have been involved.
“A delight to those who love analogue dials and switches in abundance, VC10 really is the last of a line. You have done us proud and we really do thank you for that.”