Problem Solving Duxford

Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Ryan. on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 12:50 pm

Duxford, has probably had one of its toughest years to date. The American Airshow didn't hit the mark in terms of attendance and Flying Legends saw the closing of the Tank Bank in order to bring the display closer. With the M-11 and secondary crowds, Duxford must really be under the CAA spotlight - however it has not seen a rallying call to save it, people do not seem to be mopping up tickets for the Meet The Fighters Airshow as discounts keeps being extended.

Wondered what were the thoughts and opinions of those here are. The problems, if any, and what could be done to solve them realistically.

For me, it isn't a question of participation. Imagine the line up at Duxford's Meet The Fighters event at Shuttleworth, it would sell out and therefore the problem doesn't lie there. The parking payment really wasn't a great move, I think people would have been less annoyed if the ticket prices had actually gone up rather than adding a fee to park. The flightline walk payment doesn't help things either. I'd therefore end both.

I did think that Flying Legends was a step in the right direction, I'd actually go further in order to completely straighten the display line and get the crowd as close as possible under the new CAA rules. It certainly wouldn't bother me if visiting jet aircraft had to operate out of Cambridge or elsewhere, with the loss of the jet pan, in order to get a closer display.

Interested in what anyone else would do, if anything, to improve both attendance and satisfaction at Duxford's Airshows.
Ryan.

Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dragon Rapide on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 1:18 pm

There's been lots of discussion in the other Duxford threads.

I think part of the problem regarding the September show is Duxford's deception in what they were actually offering.

I am sure the car park charge was a very bad move and has had a negative effect. The Flightline Walk has always been charged and it never seemed to deter the long queues and packed attendance, so I cannot see that as a deterrent. You have a choice to pay or not, as always.

I am not sure that theming the May and September shows is necessary. Duxford will wheel out a combination of its core aircraft for every show. The rest are bolted on according to availability cost etc. If the shows weren't themed it would tie their hands less and perhaps by securing one or at most two standout visitors for each show they could be marketed strongly on that basis with more items added as the pre-season weeks pass.

But I still think it's a premier venue and despite those who disagree, I still believe the combination of the Museum and all it has to offer in conjunction with the displays makes it special.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby rdchawk on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 1:22 pm

Price - Duxford is simply too expensive now for what you get compared to other shows. Especially if you have a family.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Mooshie1956 on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 1:49 pm

Don't hold a show when southport is on. I'm sure some people that travel from the North will go to Southport instead. why would I choose Duxford over Southport. Costs, Southport £8 a ticket and 30 odd mile drive. Duxford £25ish for ticket and 200 mile drive. Southport will cost about £6 in fuel whereas Duxford will be around £35-£40.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Duxford, it just because there's a more local show on, with the exception of the Spitfires the shows look very samey, cancelled Sea Vixen, Mig 15, Vampire pair, Typhoon ooops that's not at Duxford, BBMF, Southport gets the Lanc, Reds, I don't think the B25 is at Duxford either, Bronco at Southport.
Had it been on a different week end then I would most probably of gone to Duxford as well.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dan O'Hagan on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 2:05 pm

A big problem is that in recent years Duxford has antagonised loyal supporters and the enthusiast community, which is a very dangerous road to have gone down, and a very difficult one to recover from. By charging for parking, on top of already expensive tickets (considering the duration of the shows) and flightline charges, it appears to have been the straw that has broken the camel's back. When you factor in the fight for crowdline space, in a generally unpleasant atmosphere due to poorly-policed crowds, the incentive to spend a lot of money to visit is diminished greatly. Advance tickets too, are hugely annoying to the public - especially for such a weather-dependent event. And that's before you even consider the "show" elements, such as repetitive line-ups, unfavourable sun position, the M11 factor, uncertainty over the display line and the loss of the Tank Bank.

How would I solve it? Simple. Turn Duxford into another Old Warden. Scrap all aerobatics. Focus on gentle, close, non-aerobatic flying. Ditch the shameful parking charge. Better marshal the crowds (RIAT's Gamesmaker-type volunteers are the way forward) and make Duxford a pleasant place to be again. If the high prices must remain, then make the event worthy of them. Charging premium prices demands a premium event. Bring back the "wow" factor. Displays need to be less about feeding the ego of pilots, and more about showing the aeroplanes to the crowd. People won't mind paying £30 for a warbird-heavy show if it's properly choreographed, and close enough to see. As st24 says, make more use of the assets of the IWM. Wheel out airframes relevant to the show themes. Offer one-off photographic opportunities and juxtapositions. Become the "friendly venue" rather than one which appears to want to bleed the customer dry.

And worry less about people outside the event, and consider those who've paid handsomely to be inside.
Dan O'Hagan

Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby The Baron on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 2:33 pm

I'd agree with a lot of what you, and others have said Dan.
As I've voiced elsewhere it's a combination of factors that has driven myself, along with the usual crowd I go with, away - and others too, no doubt.

Scrap the car park charge. Don't add it on to the cost of the tickets either. Duxford has been doing shows long enough to have got parking sorted.
Increase the length of the flying display.
Make use of the museum's collection as well as the based flyers.
Stop trying to rip off the public with OTT pricing - Cosby's programme was £2 and had all the info I needed.
Maybe set up a dedicated photographers enclosure.
Scrap advanced tickets. Make better use of social media if capacity is likely to be reached.
Finally, fix the unfriendliness of the place. Bun fights and squabbles for crowd line space are not necessary. I've no problem with chairs left at the fence but the vast spaces fenced off by wind breaks that could contain a family of 6 but have 2 men with cameras just adds to the bad feeling.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dan O'Hagan on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 2:44 pm

I'd also add, make tickets for young children a LOT cheaper. Talk of paying £19 for a 5 year old's admission is frankly obscene.

I drove along the A505 during the May show, and the "freeloaders" watching from the roadside weren't enthusiasts, they were families with young children. At those prices, can you really blame them?
Dan O'Hagan

Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Thoughtful_Flyer on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 3:07 pm

There is a saying in business that if you double your prices, providing you don't lose more than half your customers you will make more money and have to do less work!

Obviously it is quite easy to overdo that and end up in a downward spiral if you get it wrong but do you not think Duxford are to some extent adopting that business model?

Given the traffic problems that have resulted from sell out shows, policing costs, parking issues, neighbour relations etc etc I suspect Duxford are not going to change back to the "stack it high and sell it cheap model".

They have a unique setup and would probably argue that roughly a tenner more than the admission charge on a non flying day is very good value.

As I have said before, compared with sporting events, theatres, concerts etc it is a fairly cheap day out. Just because some "mass" airshows are cheaper or free (seaside) I don't think you can necessarily demand that everywhere else drops their prices to match.

Everything apart from the ticket is optional, Shuttleworth charge for the Flightline walk and their catering isn't particularly cheap or wonderful either. I stock up in M&S and take myself a decent picnic for half the price of either venue's indifferent offerings.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dragon Rapide on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 3:32 pm

Those are well made points, TF.

And from an earlier point I haven't found it unfriendly, but for whatever reason it seems to attract rather a lot of rude, selfish and dim witted fence hoggers. Not sure how Duxford can be held responsible for the quality of their visitors!
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dan O'Hagan on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 3:40 pm

Dragon Rapide wrote:Those are well made points, TF.

And from an earlier point I haven't found it unfriendly, but for whatever reason it seems to attract rather a lot of rude, selfish and dim witted fence hoggers. Not sure how Duxford can be held responsible for the quality of their visitors!


Old Warden doesn't suffer from these types, that could be down to a longer crowdline, which is on an incline, or equally it could be down to the fact that Shuttleworth doesn't market itself as an all-things-to-all-men show, it pitches itself as a refined garden party, and attracts that kind of clientele accordingly.

It was noticeable that at the recent events with both the Vulcan and Red Arrows in attendance, the atmosphere was rather different. Never seen so many tattoos and vests at Shuttleworth than at the Red Arrows show in May. :grin:
Dan O'Hagan

Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dragon Rapide on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 3:50 pm

I am sure there is a lot of truth in that but apart from concentrating on vintage aircraft in terms of size and reach they are very different venues and occasions. Gates at Duxford 15,000/20,000 plus and what? - less than half at OW?
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Elliott Marsh on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 4:41 pm

Some good points here.

Dan O'Hagan wrote:How would I solve it? Simple. Turn Duxford into another Old Warden. Scrap all aerobatics. Focus on gentle, close, non-aerobatic flying.


The problem there is that the warbirds will still necessarily be on the 230m line. We saw in May what non-aerobatic flying at those distances is like, and in all honesty, it'd lose lot of the appeal very quickly if that became the norm. There were a number of comments to that effect from posters on here at the time and I can only agree. If Duxford could get an exemption, a la Old Warden, it might work a little better but there's still the fundamental issue of neutering powerful warbirds. The sweeping, high energy style pre-dates the Hannas and has been popular for years because it gives you a taste of what these aircraft can be, and their individual capabilities - be it the grace of the Spitfire or the power of the Bearcat.

I've been to Chino a couple of times and whilst their big gaggles of 20-odd warbirds flying racetrack patterns work because it's limited to just two large-scale 'segments', I'd hate to see it adopted for everything. I can't imagine, say, the Fury and Bearcat - both of which flew storming aerobatic routines at Legends - consigned to flying gentle passes up and down in the same style as biplanes! The spectacle for me and many others is seeing these aircraft demonstrating their capabilities. I think it'd end up having an adverse effect to the one intended, in all honesty.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Thoughtful_Flyer on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 5:50 pm

Dan O'Hagan wrote:
Dragon Rapide wrote:Those are well made points, TF.

And from an earlier point I haven't found it unfriendly, but for whatever reason it seems to attract rather a lot of rude, selfish and dim witted fence hoggers. Not sure how Duxford can be held responsible for the quality of their visitors!


Old Warden doesn't suffer from these types, that could be down to a longer crowdline, which is on an incline, or equally it could be down to the fact that Shuttleworth doesn't market itself as an all-things-to-all-men show, it pitches itself as a refined garden party, and attracts that kind of clientele accordingly.

It was noticeable that at the recent events with both the Vulcan and Red Arrows in attendance, the atmosphere was rather different. Never seen so many tattoos and vests at Shuttleworth than at the Red Arrows show in May. :grin:


Exactly.

Realistically, and often forgotten on this forum, I doubt if the "enthusiasts" make up even 10% of the average airshow crowd. Old Warden as you say, particularly when they had the evening shows, also attracted a garden party type clientele and I suspect they too outnumber the forum writing, picture taking, "enthusiast".

But, very sadly, the powers that be decided that the evening shows were not economic and have experimented with different ideas this year. Time will tell.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dragon Rapide on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 6:56 pm

And that point is key. Duxford and any other shoe losing momentum will not succeed by appealing to the members of the forum. The loss or gain of a few hundred enthusiasts is neither here nor there. It's the general air show going public they have to win or win back. And the ways of doing that might not necessarily appeal to us.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby tankbuster on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 6:57 pm

Elliott Marsh wrote:Some good points here.

Dan O'Hagan wrote:How would I solve it? Simple. Turn Duxford into another Old Warden. Scrap all aerobatics. Focus on gentle, close, non-aerobatic flying.


The problem there is that the warbirds will still necessarily be on the 230m line. We saw in May what non-aerobatic flying at those distances is like, and in all honesty, it'd lose lot of the appeal very quickly if that became the norm. There were a number of comments to that effect from posters on here at the time and I can only agree. If Duxford could get an exemption, a la Old Warden, it might work a little better but there's still the fundamental issue of neutering powerful warbirds. The sweeping, high energy style pre-dates the Hannas and has been popular for years because it gives you a taste of what these aircraft can be, and their individual capabilities - be it the grace of the Spitfire or the power of the Bearcat.

I've been to Chino a couple of times and whilst their big gaggles of 20-odd warbirds flying racetrack patterns work because it's limited to just two large-scale 'segments', I'd hate to see it adopted for everything. I can't imagine, say, the Fury and Bearcat - both of which flew storming aerobatic routines at Legends - consigned to flying gentle passes up and down in the same style as biplanes! The spectacle for me and many others is seeing these aircraft demonstrating their capabilities. I think it'd end up having an adverse effect to the one intended, in all honesty.


Interesting comment because I like to see a Mig 29 an F22 or a Rafael demonstrating its capabilities but what I want from the vintage classics is a great view. Nice gentle flybys showing off the form of an Anson, a Beech 18 or a Mew Gull are what I want to see I don't care about capabilities.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Elliott Marsh on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 7:17 pm

Agreed on those types but I'm talking specifically about warbirds which are capable of aerobatics. There's a world of difference between them; the bigger pistons being closer in performance to early jets than to the pistons that predated them by only a few years. It can work both ways in any case - like Richard Grace flying several absolutely stonking close topsides in the Fury at FL16, entwined with vertical aerobatics using the entire display area. I love me some warbirds but constant topsides would just get boring. Most displays at Old Warden usually only incorporate a handful and they're generally acknowledged as some of the finest vintage demos you'll see.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Roughcutter on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 7:43 pm

Get shut of the exclusive gold & silver pass enclosures that take up the prime spots along the crowd line, there's little enough room there, now that the tank bank and the jet pan are off limits. If there is one thing that will antagonise the paying customers, it's the "them & us" situation brought on by these private enclosures separating the elite from the hoy poloy :mad:
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dragon Rapide on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 8:12 pm

Attempting to drive a wedge between different groups attending the show is neither helpful nor realistic. Thanks to a benevolent relative I have attended in both Gold and Silver and I was unaware of an elite in either. Several shows offer "VIP" enclosures of one sort or another and I don't recall reading criticism of them here or anywhere else.
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby FarnboroJohn on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 9:04 pm

Dragon Rapide wrote:Attempting to drive a wedge between different groups attending the show is neither helpful nor realistic. Thanks to a benevolent relative I have attended in both Gold and Silver and I was unaware of an elite in either.


Of course you weren't - you were part of the elite..... :lol:

But its there, nonetheless. Duxford should have one VIP enclosure for veterans and equal treatment for all punters apart from that. RIAT has a mile or more of crowdline and (though I object somewhat to the assumption that VIP status should automatically get the centreline) its perfectly possible to get a decent placing by paying the standard fee. Duxford should be the same - or better: the Imperial War Museum is largely publicly funded and the public should get appropriate access. Of course, in past years one of the best places was not on the centreline but along the tank bank (or in the naughty field of course!), so for many there was no great desire to be in the elite enclosures. No longer. Up the revolution!

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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby strangelookingalien on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 9:48 pm

Duxford is unappealing for numerous reasons, but three very simple to fix ones are these:

1) The crowd line is ridiculously short (get rid of some of the enclosures).

2) The airfield shuts early forcing people to sit in their cars for ages (stay open a bit later, and encourage the stall holders to do so and most importantly MARSHALL THE EXITING CARS!)

3) The flying is very distant (work on this the way Old Warden have).

Obviously the shambles that is "meet the fighters" could have been fixed just by marketing it differently. There are going to be a lot of disappointed people this weekend when they realise the most contemporary fighter they have is from the 1950s...
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dragon Rapide on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 5:05 am

Many of us have been going to Duxford for years and apart from minor niggles about ticket increases and onsite catering I don't recollect reading so much "where has Duxford gone wrong" as currently. Since the only completely new innovations this year have been, advance booking, car parking charges and alterations to the crowd line part driven by CAA requirements, why the current explosion of dissatisfaction? False hopes for the Autumn show? Or simmering discontent brought to the surface by all of the above?
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Mr Potton on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 6:05 am

Roughcutter wrote:Get shut of the exclusive gold & silver pass enclosures that take up the prime spots along the crowd line, there's little enough room there, now that the tank bank and the jet pan are off limits. If there is one thing that will antagonise the paying customers, it's the "them & us" situation brought on by these private enclosures separating the elite from the hoy poloy :mad:


I'm someone who normally buys a general entry ticket for any air show, but on this occasion am in the Gold enclosure, mainly as a treat for my elderly mum who is 90 and needs some comforts nowadays, but also for me, because I like a bit of luxury when I can afford it (don't we all?) At the next show I attend I'll be back with the hoi polloi. Am I a member of the elite? Am I one of 'them' or one of 'us'? I don't know. The presence of VIP enclosures has never antagonised me in the past....
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dragon Rapide on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 7:06 am

I doubt it has antagonised many unless they have a chip on the shoulder.....
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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Pen Pusher on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 7:48 am

strangelookingalien wrote:There are going to be a lot of disappointed people this weekend when they realise the most contemporary fighter they have is from the 1950s...


No there isn't. Just a handful of enthusiasts who put their own spin on the word contemporary.

You got it right though, for Duxford 'modern contemporary fighters' are those from the 50's, as I've said before but got shouted down. And will again now.

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Re: Problem Solving Duxford

Postby Dan O'Hagan on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 8:00 am

Pen Pusher wrote:
strangelookingalien wrote:There are going to be a lot of disappointed people this weekend when they realise the most contemporary fighter they have is from the 1950s...


No there isn't. Just a handful of enthusiasts who put their own spin on the word contemporary.

You got it right though, for Duxford 'modern contemporary fighters' are those from the 50's, as I've said before but got shouted down. And will again now.

Brian


Christ, Brian, even for such a blinkered defender of Duxford as you, that's quite some blind spot.

"Contemporary" in this instance clearly meant fighter(s) current, and in-service.
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