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High hopes to bring back star attraction

PUBLISHED: 12:59 28 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:30 03 July 2010

Organisers of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival are hoping the world's only flying Vulcan bomber will prove to be their ace in the pack as they strive to attract big crowds to this year's event.

Organisers of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival are hoping the world's only flying Vulcan bomber will prove to be their ace in the pack as they strive to attract big crowds to this year's event.

The bomber was regarded by many as the star of last year's record-breaking festival and show directors hope to lure it to the east coast town again in July after a rush of funding appeared to ensure it could fly again during 2009.

At the end of the year, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, which restored the aircraft to flying order at a cost of £6m, announced it was on the brink of being grounded forever unless a further £1m could be raised.

A pledge fund was set up in December, with an early March deadline, but the fund stood at just £480,000 by the end of February. A final plea went out to thousands of enthusiasts, who had backed the appeal in the past, and the fund has now ballooned to more than £1m.

Air festival managing director Paul Bayfield acknowledged that the “Vulcan effect” had made a big impact on last year's record attendance of 445,000.

He added: “We are still in the planning stages regarding our display programme on July 23 and 24. We will not be able to formulate that programme until we hear from the Royal Air Force how our annual request for display aircraft will be met, but it would be wonderful if we could include the Vulcan again this year.”

The Vulcan trust said the campaign for more funding would continue and admitted, in the long-term, its business model need to change to avoid further crises.

The support for the iconic Cold War plane, which has the full title of the Vulcan XH558, has stunned its backers, who also hope to raise public funds through its use as an educational tool for schoolchildren.

Meanwhile, Mr Bayfield urged the public to ensure this year's flying display budget would not be affected by the recession. As well as the voluntary donations from the show crowds, joining the Friends of the Air Festival club also provides vital support.

“Public support will be vital if we are to maintain our current position as one of the best air shows, not only in this country, but in the whole of Europe,” added Mr Bayfield.

For more information, write to FOTLAF, 41 Tennyson Road, Lowestoft, NR32 1PS or log on to www.lowestoftairfestival.co.uk.

For details on the Vulcan, visit www.vulcantothesky.org.

The event is also looking for new sponsors, including a main backer. Email Mr Bayfield at paul@lowestoftairfestival.co.uk or Keith Moughton at keith.moughton@waveney.gov.uk.

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