Indeed. Once again a nightshoot is the in-vogue cash cow, yet the same people paying for these events complain about an airshow ticket costing £20-25 for a full day's flying.
£20 to shoot one airframe under some spotlights is expensive, no two ways about it.
Wasn't the last Northolt event something like £30 minimum "donation"? That's getting towards the ticket price of a major airshow.
A welcome return to form for UKAR's village idiot...
I'm sure, Dan, having attended exactly NONE of these nightshoots at Northolt, you know exactly why we ask for a minimum donation (def: "an act or instance of presenting something as a gift, grant, or contribution") for photographers to attend an event. They are held - just in case it had slipped from your ill-informed mind, to generate funds for a building restoration project on the station. No public funds are available, so we have to find other revenue streams (to use modern parlance for a historical artefact). To that end, successive Station Commanders have given their permission for aircraft to be invited for the purpose of night photography, the proceeds of which are then provided for the work required.
The project in question is Building 27 - the 'Sir Keith Park Building' - which is the birthplace of air defence for the Battle of Britain, having been the prototype station operations rooms for Fighter Command.
Our last event was attended by just short of 200 photographers. All of them paid the minimum donation of £25 - the first price increase since our first nightshoot - and some VOLUNTARILY (def: "of one's own accord or by free choice", "proceeding from a natural impulse; spontaneous ") gave more as they feel we provide good value for money. On SOME occasions - not all - we ask for a supplement of £5 to HELP COVER THE COSTS of crew accommodation (a key factor in attracting certain Air Arms). Sometimes - not always - we can place crews in on-base rooms, but these are frequently at a premium and reserved for official use ahead of crews for our events. Hotel rooms in west London aren't particularly cheap either, but I'm sure you're fully aware of that also. For our latest event, several aircraft cancelled at the last minute and we couldn't reduce/not charge the surcharge as we still had to pay for the unused rooms.
The surcharge also helps to OFFSET other charges that sometimes crop up such as paying for the balance of the fuel requested by the Bronco (400 litres from a total of 1,400 - the balance being kindly donated by an on-base supplier).
So, in round numbers: let's say 190 people attended at £25/head = £4,750, add on 190 x £5 surcharge (£950) and this gives us an income of £5,700.
We can now subtract the cost of hotel accommodation - 15 rooms @ £80 = £1,200 and 400 litres of fuel, £600.
Therefore, income of £5,700 less costs of £1,800 leave a balance for the pot of £3,900 which is then used to pay for another six months' work on Building 27. (The income does not include Gift Aid which, for those who ticked the box, will generate another 25p in the pound).
I hope this clears things up for you (and anyone else who wonders where the money goes) and, in future, I hope that next time you have a question, I'm sure, as any well-meaning journalist would do, you'll ask first rather than assume.