Dam Busters Twilight Taxi Run

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Join us on Saturday 20 May for a special twilight taxi-run when we commemorate the 80th Anniversary of 617 Squadron and its famous World War 2 'Dam Busters' raid against the Mohne, Edersee and Sorpe dams.

Known officially as Operation Chastise, the raid took place on the night of 16-17 May 1943 and caused flooding of the Ruhr valley and of villages in the Eder valley. Two power stations were destroyed and several more damaged. Factories and mines were also damaged and destroyed.

Despite rapid repairs by the Germans, industrial production did not return to normal for over five months.

Flying Avro Lancaster bombers, the raid was led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson using special "bouncing bombs" designed by Barnes Wallis. 617 Squadron lost eight Lancasters during the raid and 53 of its aircrew were killed, and three taken prisoner. An estimated 1,600 civilians and forced labourers lost their lives on the ground.

Our Vulcan, XL426, has strong links with the 'Dam Busters'. It comes from the same Avro 'stable' as the Lancasters used on the raid and served with 617 Squadron in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. XL426 wears 617 Squadron's famous diamond-shaped emblem, featuring a breached dam, on the port side of its fin.

The Dambusters Twilight Taxi-Run event at London Southend Airport will begin with a big-screen Secret Cinema showing of the 1955 feature film, The Dam Busters. Shown in association with the 2023 Southend Film Festival, the film stars Richard Todd as Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis.

The film tells the story of the difficult and frustrating development of the "bouncing bomb" before going on to deal with the raid itself.

The sun would have been setting when 617 Squadron's Lancasters took off in May 1943, and so will it be when visitors move outside to witness Vulcan XL426 taxi in the twilight. There will superb opportunities to watch and photograph XL426 as she starts her engines as the sun sets.

XL426 will then move off and carry out two taxi-runs on the Southend Airport runway. The second run will be a high-speed pass.

Viewing will be from the Trust's exclusive visitor area in front of its hangar. This will give an uninterrupted view across the airport and unrivaled photographic opportunities. Visitors will then have a close-up view as the Vulcan taxies back to her parking spot and her engines spool down.

The timetable for the evening is as follows:

4:30 pm - Gates open
5:45pm - Film screening of The Dam Busters
8:00pm – Vulcan engine start
8:30pm – Twilight taxi-runs

Attendance is limited and tickets are now on sale. Prices are as follows:

Public Adult: £65.00; VRT Member Adult: £35.00; Under-16 (must be over 6 years of age): £25.00

VRT Individual Members may purchase a single ticket at the discounted rate and Family Members may purchase two. There is no limit on the number of Public or Under-16 tickets VRT Members can buy for their guests.

Why not join the VRT now and take advantage of the discounted Member price as well as receiving the benefits of VRT membership? Follow this link to join.

Children under the age of 6 cannot be admitted, sorry. All under-16s must have a ticket and must be accompanied by an Adult ticket holder.

We also cannot allow any animals, with the exception of assistance dogs, into the event.

Teas and coffees will be on sale throughout the evening and there will be a licensed bar.

Should it be necessary to cancel the event for any reason, we will provide full refunds on all ticket purchases. We won’t, however, be able to compensate for other costs you or your guests might incur attending the event, such as travelling or hotel costs.

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