Moving XM573 into the Strategic Aerospace Museum in 1982 – Nebraska, USA
Wing Commander Adrian Sumner RAF ret’d, who as Detachment Commander, was not only responsible for organising the RAF’s run-down of operations at Offutt Air Force Base after 25 years as a Detachment, but also the hand-over ceremony and leaving party (or should we say parties?) for the families, as well as the oversight of the safe arrival of Vulcan XM573 when she was gifted to the SAC Museum.
In his article, he includes some fascinating pictures of that time in 1982. Readers may know that Vulcan XM573 also gave up a vital Vulcan component needed for Operation Corporate during the Falklands Conflict.
Talking about his role, Adrian said “I had nothing to do with the Falkland’s War as I was on the periphery, although I was tasked with getting a nose re-fuelling probe back to the UK for the Vulcans and the Nimrods.
“There was some regret that I couldn’t take part as I knew the crews who did, and if I’d have been at Waddington I would have been sent.”
Adrian’s career also took him to RAF Finningley, where, as a Squadron Leader, he commanded the Dominie Squadron from 1985 to 1988, and returning as a Wing Commander, was OC Operations and Pilot Training Wing from 1991 to 1993. (The Station closed 3 years later in 1996.)
Please find attached a series of photographs I took on Sunday 13th June 1982 when the RAF Detachment moved XM573 into the SAC Museum at the end of the disused runway at Offutt AFB, Omaha, Nebraska. As you can imagine, it took a number of hours as the Vulcan was squeezed into place. We were lucky in places where the Vulcan wing was low enough to go under some of the parked aircraft, and in the case of the ‘Hustler’ – just high enough to go over! (see photo).
Here is the process from start to finish.
XM573 out on the airfield pan, hitched to the tug ahead of the move with the team on the wing.
Approaching the other aircraft exhibits with space cleared ready for their new Vulcan exhibit.
Adrian continues: “However, there were places where propellers had to be rotated as the aircraft was towed passed. I took the photo of 573 in its final resting place from the cockpit of one of the transport aircraft in the Museum.”
Careful as you go, all eyes looking out as the aircraft slowly moves into position.
Looking out from another aircraft once the Vulcan is in her final position.
“The photo of all the Detachment personnel and families was taken the following Monday when the museum held a special VIP tour for us. As a post script, the SAC Museum was moved in 1998 to just off the I-80 between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.”
As of 2023, XM573 resides at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Nebraska, United States.
XM573 (Source: Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum)