Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

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DanO1978
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Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by DanO1978 »

Reading a thread on another forum, numerous posters suggesting "there may be trouble ahead" for Classic Air Force due to low visitor numbers.

Personally I always felt a move to Newquay was a strange one, given the brevity of the holiday season, and the greater distances aircraft would need to travel for displays (though several were relocated for the summer?). Don't recall seeing their flyers out and about at shows half as much as in recent seasons either.

Anyone able to shed light on how things are going down there?

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PeteM
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by PeteM »

I think the main 'sticking point' is the fact that the council are increasing the rent on 404 Hangar by a substantial amount (I understand it's double) next year.

FGR2
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by FGR2 »

I thought that they had around 6 months or a year free, then they had to start paying rent.

Someone on Key Forum Shackleton thread (I imagine this is where you saw this) made a comment that they may not last a year, but that was his personal opinion, not based on any facts. (I know Dan you were always rather critical of the move to Newquay).

Classic Air Force are continuing to expand, there are regular updates on Facebook and on their email lists if you are a member.

The Lightning is being rebuilt and St Mawgan, and the Varsity and Harrier are looking very nice too from the photos I have seen.

The reason their aircraft haven't been out and about as much is probably more to do with airshows not booking them rather than anything else. The Vampire/Meteor were at Farnborough, (hence why I went there instead of RIAT), the Venom I think displayed at Cosford, I believe the Meteors went to Culdrose as well. The Rapides do travel to shows as well. I don't think it is necessarily the move to Cornwall that has reduced airshow bookings, more the fact airshows have to fill 5 hours with anything they can afford now, rather than booking something interesting.

Why not give them a call and see if you can do a pod cast or review on what they are doing/plans for the future?

DanO1978
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by DanO1978 »

I contacted them prior to the move for those reasons, and wasn't even given the courtesy of a reply.

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PeteM
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by PeteM »

FGR2 wrote:I thought that they had around 6 months or a year free, then they had to start paying rent.

The Lightning is being rebuilt and St Mawgan, and the Varsity and Harrier are looking very nice too from the photos I have seen.



That may have been the case for the first year. They have been paying rent this year but the proposed increase means that staying in 404 is unsustainable.
As far as I'm aware visitor numbers this year are up but the overheads (rent/utilities etc) have been considerable.

There is a plan to stay at Newquay, whether the Varsity is included in that plan hasn't been made clear.

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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by FGR2 »

DanO1978 wrote:I contacted them prior to the move for those reasons, and wasn't even given the courtesy of a reply.


There admin. can be a bit patchy, I must admit. Quite a few times I have had to make a few calls trying to get membership sorted out etc.

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CameronSys
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by CameronSys »

They're more than welcome back at Coventry!

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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by tommercer »

I visited in the middle of July and for the two hours I was there, I only saw two other people visiting. It was extremely quiet...

wv383
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by wv383 »

I did read somewhere that they were 'losing' a hangar and wondered what was happening. Today I've seen on Facebook a rumour that they are moving back to Coventry. However, looking at the CAF FB page, there is nothing mentioned there and in fact the page hasn't been updated since the end of October. If this rumoured move is true, I fear it doesn't bode well certainly for some of the larger non-airworthy aircraft. The cost and logisitics of dismantling them would be horrendous. Plus of course several were only fairly recently dismantled so that they could be lugged all the way to Cornwall, put back together and may now have to go through the same process all over again!
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DanO1978
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by DanO1978 »

Yes, if they did decide to move back, I think you can kiss stuff like the VC-10, BAC One-Eleven and Canberra T.4 good-bye in terms of a safe future. If money is too tight to keep the place open, they sure as hell won't have the money to dismantle and transport such large airframes.

That Canberra T.4 is one of the most appalling wastes in recent British aviation heritage. Retired from the RAF in pristine order in 2005, then simply left outside for years and years at Coventry. Makes me sick. :mad:

Always looked an overly-ambitious project. You simply don't go to Cornwall to visit aviation museums. Any fool could have told them that - Flambards found that out, and in Devon the museum at Totnes died a death too.

If visitor numbers are so low only two years into the move, I don't see how you can turn that around?

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TheDuck
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by TheDuck »

Photos that have been posted on here make it look like a ghost town, which is a same consconsidering they have an amazing collection of aircraft.

Also, does anyone know why they have two Facebook pages? Classic Air Force (which has more likes) and Classic Air Force Live (which is updated more regularly)?

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CameronSys
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by CameronSys »

i can see them coming back! The RAF offered to fly XV232 to Newquay so I wouldn't be surprised if they offered to fly the 1-11 up here to CVT.

I hope they come back! Having said that most aircraft are back here at CVT now though so perhaps we should wait for the big announcement?

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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by wv383 »

I think 'the big announcement' is part of the problem. I seem to remember that prior to the move to Newquay, there were rumours flying around about them a) staying at Coventry, b) moving to Kemble (oh sorry it's Cotswold Airport now!), c) a move to Newquay and d) a move to somewhere different entirely. The trouble was, there were months of this going on with no word at all from the Classic Flight as it was then called so everyone, including members were kept totally in the dark.
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CameronSys
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by CameronSys »

I've heard the CAF CVT return rumour from a few staff at CVT, I think it will happen

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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by KyleG »

CameronSys wrote:i can see them coming back! The RAF offered to fly XV232 to Newquay so I wouldn't be surprised if they offered to fly the 1-11 up here to CVT.

I hope they come back! Having said that most aircraft are back here at CVT now though so perhaps we should wait for the big announcement?

Spotter Cameron


From what I've heard about the 1-11, it's not in a fit state for ground runs let alone a return to flight.
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106500
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by 106500 »

In my opinion it would be very sad if the Newquay project failed. The Nimrod hanger is a perfect location for the classic aircraft and there's no better base for the scenic flights. There's been significant investment in road access, etc and it is inconceivable to see all this collapse. Let's look more optimistically at the future - I remember the MR2s at St Mawgan and haven't given up on seeing one there once again; perhaps next to the Shackleton! :smile:

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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by FGR2 »

I would have been surprised if the Nimrod flying to Newquay was every considered, seeing it had been sitting on the tarmac at Coventry for about 3 years with little in the way of maintenance.

Surprised if the 1-11 had deteriorated that quickly as well, it has only been in the open since early this year hasn't it?

I think the issue is that they tend to buy/ acquire aircraft, to save them from being scrapped but haven't always got the resources to keep all of them in top condition. Cornwall does have advantages in some respects, pleasure flights over Cornwall have got to have done considerably better than they would have flying over the midlands, but I think the whole museum could have promoted themselves more. I was staying at a Premier Inn earlier this year and there were no CAF flyers in the rack there :(

Saying that, I think all attractions in Cornwall suffer, the Eden Project has hit problems in the past. When you rely on seasonal traffic it is pretty much dead in winter, saying that I have been to Duxford in the past and it has been quiet there as well, so I think it is out of city museums in general.

Moving what they have there back would be horrendous, I doubt there is enough room at Coventry for all the collection either, and visitor numbers would be even lower. The only thing in its favour at Coventry is that I imagine they don't pay rent?

Being in Cornwall it gives me a good excuse to go away for a few days though and drop in whilst I am down there and have a look around.

Binbrook 01
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by Binbrook 01 »

Well the RAF are disposing of the Shackleton by tender (I tried to copy the PDF link) and failed, as it goes to a dead end....


CAF were offered it apparently, but appear to have turned it down.

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DanO1978
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by DanO1978 »

If Newquay were to fail, it does once again rather pose the question about how viable aviation museums are as commercial ventures, especially given that the RAF has two enormous ones letting people in for nothing.

That said, CAF have hardly been visibly pro-active in attracting people. When was the last time you saw an advert, promotion, news release or special offer from them, in a publication or on a website that you use/frequent? When was the last time CAF gave you a REASON to visit?

I'd have thought they'd have a visible and vocal presence on the historic and enthusiasts forums at the very least, but CAF remain remarkably quiet and faceless.

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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by MRTT »

Would certainly be a shame if it did move back to Coventry, like others have said Newquay is the best place for the scenic flights and it seems fitting to have it in a Nimrod hangar, just a shame it looks unlikely they could get her down.
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FGR2
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by FGR2 »

I think that initially there were adverts in a couple of aviation mages, I have one somewhere with an advert in.

I do think their promotion/admin should have been a bit better. I tried to join the club online, but the website failed. I joined when I was next at Newquay about 2 months later, then heard nothing. Turns out it had been sent to Coventry for processing but the person doing it was on holiday for a couple of weeks. I think it was then done but not added to another spreadsheet so I didn't get the magazine. Then a couple of months later I get a call about the original application that had failed online! Got the renewal through this year saying I could pay via DD and to send back the enclosed form (which was not enclosed). Called up, asked if I could pay over the phone, but paid by cheque in the end. I am quite patient, but I wonder how many potential members they may have lost in the meantime :(

Always found it odd that the entrance was about £9, but they then gave you loads of vouchers to spend in the shop. :dizzy: Couldn't quite work that out.

I do really hope that it stays in Newquay, they have a great set up, and some great volunteers down there, and the job they have done on the Varsity, Harrier and Hunter have been excellent. The Sea Hawk and Lightning static restorations will be something to look forward to , it would be such a shame to cart it all back up to Coventry.

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CameronSys
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by CameronSys »

You should give up ANY hope of XV232 flying to NQY. Whilst 232 will be doing fast taxy runs at Coventry next year... It isnt classic air force's and is now owned by the Nimrod Preservation Group I believe and is very much like WR963, it is just using Airbase for useful parking

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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by TomEGLF »

DanO1978 wrote:That Canberra T.4 is one of the most appalling wastes in recent British aviation heritage. Retired from the RAF in pristine order in 2005, then simply left outside for years and years at Coventry. Makes me sick. :mad:


Actually when the T.4 was delivered to Coventry it was in anything but pristine order. Virtually everything that could expire, expired that day. In fact the day it arrived was the last possible day it could have flown to us and if the weather that stopped the ferry flight the previous day had not cleared then it would have been dismantled and roaded to Coventry. The RAF freely admitted they had been nursing it along to get it to this point.

The initial estimate to return it to airworthy condition on the civilian registry was in the region of £150,000, money just not available at the time and with another Canberra ahead in the queue, so it was inhibited and stored.

Returning it to flight was still a possibility if funding had become available, right up until the point it was moved to Newquay, and the less said about that the better.

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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by 106500 »

CameronSys wrote:You should give up ANY hope of XV232 flying to NQY. Whilst 232 will be doing fast taxy runs at Coventry next year... It isnt classic air force's and is now owned by the Nimrod Preservation Group I believe and is very much like WR963, it is just using Airbase for useful parking

CVT Cameron

Not sure anyone mentioned flying it down? Would there be a road transport option (notwithstanding a need to retain a fast taxi ability; whether that would be permitted at Newquay though I'm unsure?) - finance and owners wishes permitting of course? :roll:

DanO1978
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Re: Classic Air Force, Newquay - how's it doing?

Post by DanO1978 »

TomEGLF wrote: the point it was moved to Newquay, and the less said about that the better.


Indeed...

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