I mentioned my enthusiasm for the Avro Vulcan before. Another member of Britain's Cold War 'V' force was the once futuristic looking Handley Page Victor bomber.
When an iconic aircraft is retired, there's not a lot you can do with it. At best, it is lovingly maintained by enthusiasts, so that it can occasionally be rolled out and taxied up the runway for the entertainment of the crowds.
Video footage has only just emerged of one such run in May this year. Through an accident of inappropriate throttle applied by an engineer, a Victor at Bruntingthorpe seized its chance to return to its natural element. The aircraft hadn't left the ground for two decades and was not airworthy in any technical or regulatory sense. As it veered towards a nearby housing estate in a strong cross-wind the driver, a surprised 70 year old former squadron commander named Bob Prothero, had to gain control whilst making a very rapid choice between attempting a go-round in an unmaintained aircraft, or attempt to put it down on the grass overrun at the end of the runway. He chose the latter and successfully landed it without damage, describing the incident as 'the worst nine seconds of my life'. Perhaps in recognition of his skill and quick-thinking, the Civil Aviation Authority has investigated and decided against any charges.