We are approaching the first anniversary of the untimely loss of our inspirational chief executive Dr Robert Pleming. Robert brought the iconic avro Vulcan XH558 back to Doncaster to her former RAF home and worked tirelessly to promote the area, its heritage and developed a vision for the future that will bring people to the borough and leaving a lasting legacy.
Robert Pleming was born in north-west London. He was awarded an RAF Flying Scholarship at the age of seventeen that cemented his lifelong love of aviation.
After gaining a BA in Physics and Doctorate at the Department of Nuclear Physics at Oxford University, Robert started a career in IT. He held technical, sales and management roles in IBM, latterly with responsibility for Open Systems in Europe.
In 1999 when he was working as Technical Director, EMEA Service Provider Line-of-Business, for Cisco, he took a three month leave of absence to explore the feasibility of returning Vulcan XH558 to flight. He returned to work as Director of Special Projects EMEA for Cisco Systems Corporation until March 2000 when he left his high-flying post to work on his mission of returning the Avro Vulcan to flight.
Robert set up the Vulcan to the Sky Trust to return the last potentially airworthy RAF V-force aircraft, Avro Vulcan XH558 to flight. In 1997, when the idea first came to him, he built a Project Steering Team from key members of the aerospace establishment and former members of the RAF’s Vulcan Display Flight.
Against all the odds, Robert and the team succeeded in their mission, raising millions of pounds in donations and returning XH558 to flight. The Vulcan to the Sky project succeeded spectacularly on October 18 2007, with the first test flight of the restored Vulcan, some 14 years after its last flight, and after nearly two years of intense engineering activity.
She went on to appear in front of air show and event audiences totalling over 10 million people, around the UK, and in Holland and Belgium; Robert took great pleasure in the joy that watching her fly brought to the supporters. XH558 made her final flight on October 28 2015.
Since 2015, when XH558 was grounded, Robert, determined that her story would live on to inspire future generations of engineers, and in the year’s that followed he created the vision for The Vulcan Experience and within that The Green Technology Hub at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
He wanted this to be a place where people could honour the past and inspire the future. His team are working to fundraise for this project to ensure that Robert’s legacy is created, and his vision becomes a reality.