I am a proud veteran of the Cold War Era and during my time I served in Vulcan Bombers with both 617 Squadron and 50 Squadron.

I recall one particularly hairy moment [well 15 minutes actually] when things did not go too well during a planned practice bombing sortie in December 1968. After all of the pre-flight checks had been done we were parked in Vulcan XL 443 on the end of the runway at RAF Scampton and ready to go. Clearance was given and with all four throttles at full power, the engines screaming, the brakes were released and away we went. At 160 knots the Co-pilot [Neil Robertson-Williams] called for rotate and the Captain [Dave Morris] gently eased the screaming beast off the runway.

Before we had reached 50 feet all banter ceased as the Co-pilot declared ‘Fire in No 1 engine.'[We found out later from the Tower that we had a 20 foot flame emanating from the stricken engine] The Captain immediately initiated the necessary fire drill but within a very short period of time we heard the Co-pilot declare that No 2 engine had also failed.[ One of the fan blades from No 1 engine had entered No 2 engine thus causing the failure] At this point in our flight, the aircraft was in an asymmetric condition with a full fuel load on board and two pilots struggling to hold the aircraft level with both of them maintaining full opposite rudder to combat the power from the remaining two engines.

I am pleased to report that between them they flew an immaculate circuit and within 15 minutes we were safely on the ground.

The adrenalin rush then receded and we all staggered out of the aircraft more than pleased that it was only a training flight and not a genuine war sortie.

I managed to obtain one of the mangled fan blades to remind me of that eventful day and also reminding me why British Air force Pilots are known to be the best trained pilots in the world.