A tribute to Dr Robert Pleming; leader of the Vulcan To The Sky Trust
Report by Peter Davison
On 2nd February 2021 the UK Aviation Heritage sector suffered a great loss with the unexpected death of Robert Pleming. Robert was the key that unlocked the funding trail for the world’s last flying V-Bomber; leading on both technical, administrative and operational matters and surrounding himself with dedicated professionals and keen volunteers to create an icon of the British airshow circuit.
The need for a major engineering service finally saw the Vulcan, XH558, grounded in October 2015. Not to be beaten, Robert then set out to establish a major educational facility at Doncaster Airport, previously RAF Finningley, a Cold War V-Bomber base.
In addition to this initiative, a sudden need for a new hangar to contain his dreams, Robert was currently dealing with the design, planning and legal negotiations for this stage of this project. He was also working on the restoration to flight of Canberra WK163; a record breaker in its own right.
For many people this would be enough to fill the diary, but not Robert. His commitment to Aviation Heritage saw him holding numerous Committee placements. He was Chairman of Aviation Heritage UK, an umbrella organisation representing nearly a hundred Aviation Museums, most of which rely on volunteer input and all suffering from the Virus lockdown in 2020. In addition Robert was a Trustee of the National Transport Trust and on the Mobile Heritage Advocacy Group of the cross-sector Heritage Alliance. Since 2019 Robert had been the co-Chairman of the Heritage Working Group of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation (APPG/GA) mounting a strong and professional campaign for a Secretariat for Aviation Heritage, flying and static, a facility that already gets funding and support for both the Railway and Maritime sectors. Despite the Virus issues real progress was and is expected on this front.
So, in tribute to Robert’s endless vision and inspiration in a year bereft of public airshows, please enjoy some images of his favourite aeroplane taken in Doncaster, Farnborough and, of course, at the Royal International Air Tattoo. The sector has lost a true champion. RIP.