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Duxford chaos on Sunday.

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Cuban815/09/2014 10:18:42
2905 forum posts
1 photos

Well, against my better judgement the wife wanted to go to see Sunday's show at Duxford which on that day only had the two Lancasters and Red Arrows. Checked IWM website on Friday and they were saying that all advance tickets for Sunday were sold out but there would be room for cars in the adjoining meadow car park for those arriving to pay at the gate. They added that they expected the site to be full “during the morning” and to arrive early – gates would be open at 8.00am. (not actually the case as I've seen some on other forums saying they were parked up on site at 7.00am).

We set out at 7.00am and arrived at the end of the traffic queue (about 1.5 miles from the airfield) on the A505 at 8.25! We progressed less than half a mile in the next hour, and heard on BBC Radio Cambridge at about 9.30 that the airfield was now closed to all except ticket holders. We turned around and went home – thankfully only an hour's run for us.

We heard on the way home that the Cambridge Park and Ride was swamped and that staff there were being abused by furious travellers unable to go any further. The police had also closed the M11 junction to Duxford for those coming from the North. Traffic was reported as stationary on the M11 northbound carriage way at the Duxford exit. This all taking place just after 10.00am.

I suspect that many of those with tickets were stuck in the gridlock and either arrived hopelessly late or gave up in the attempt.

The wife and I have been going to Duxford since it first opened to the public and in all those years have never witnessed such utter chaos.

Something similar did occur when the 50th anniversary of the Spitfire was celebrated with the largest gathering of Spits at Duxford since the war, but I think yesterday was very much worse. Clearly the management at Duxford have lessons to learn if such a fiasco is not to be repeated, if and when an airshow of particular significance is staged again.


Where I think a mistake was made was not making Sunday's special show an all ticket affair. By intimating that parking would be available to arrivals without tickets, encouraged many to take a chance (as we did) and simply cause early gridlock in the surrounding approach roads. At least if it had been tickets only, then the authorities would have had a known amount of traffic to deal with and the mess and disappointment that we all faced could have been avoided.

What little information about travel to the airshow that was made public, was hidden away in the depths of the website and clearly was not of much use.

For some unfathomable reason, Duxford have also decided to drop their Autumn airshow this year, and it looks to be missing from 2015's schedule as well. Perhaps another reason that encouraged many to travel yesterday?







Edited By Cuban8 on 15/09/2014 10:22:44

Edited By Cuban8 on 15/09/2014 10:36:40

will -015/09/2014 10:49:15
587 forum posts
19 photos

Yeah took the boy on Saturday and parked north side. Took over an hour to get out of the carp ark on the Northside. Took about an hour of queuing on the way in on the 505 in the morning. Good show though!

Was going to go on the sunday, but read the warnings on the website and swithched to saturday instead. Glad I did, weather was better anyway and got to watch the reds display at a distance from the patch on sunday.

Ross Clarkson15/09/2014 12:41:14
1438 forum posts
106 photos

Took me 5 hours from doorstep to getting on site. 2hrs to Royston then 3 from there!

Worth every second, was brilliant.

Tony Read 215/09/2014 12:57:57
965 forum posts
3 photos

Went to East Kirkby to see the three lancs. 2 1/2 hours to get there (10.30am) and only 10 minutes queing. My wife spoke to someone there and they mentioned 7 miles of traffic at Duxford! crook

The three lanc display was awesome - the two flying did an opposition break at the end!!!! teeth 2

Cliff Bastow15/09/2014 12:59:43
884 forum posts
454 photos

I arrived about 7.40 from Royston direction and i must admit i had no problems. i had pre booked tickets and was in the car park by 8.05.

Great show and well worth a visit.

Getting out however, what a nightmare! started my car about 5. 30 and did not get off sight till about 7.30! seemed to be no organisation about it but i am sure the staff did there best. I would just like to say thanks to everyone who decided that waiting there turn was not for them and decided to push into the que making things worse.

Despite this I had a great day and would go again.

ken anderson.15/09/2014 13:35:33
8632 forum posts
779 photos

I think that part of the problem was that 'weasel' told me last week he was going also-word had prob got out and hence the crowd's etc...

ken weasel PR Dept.

Andrew Price 215/09/2014 13:46:20
816 forum posts

Via an abandoned trip to the A505 tailback and the M11 southbound, when I actually arrived, I asked one of the traffic guys if there were spaces still at the Meadows Car Park ( we did not have tickets). Was told no and that I should go to the Park & Ride. The web site on Sat night stated tickets would be available at reception for people using the buses, so off we went - to find that parking spaces were virtually non exsistant. This could not have been helped by the tremendous number of spaces that were taken up by a car boot sale, and, no doubt, it's customers. The number of people waiting for the Duxford buses i calculated to be probably 10/12 buses worth with numbers rapidly building up. The back of the line was then situated right outside the complex!

Don't know if the GF is ever going to forgive me for getting her out of the place she was very happy to be - at 5.30AM!! We finished up going to Ely and a large 99 got her talking - a little bit and I had to promise not to take her to Donny to see a certain large triangular shaped aircraft during her half term hols!! I was lying of course.

So. I had booked a hotel just up the road from Dunsfold so we could have a weekend away and see all the goodies that were flying that day, including a certain pair if Avros only to wake up on Sunday morning feeling too ill to go. Now having missed them at Duxford I'm beginning to believe that fate is conspiring to stop me seeing two of the blighters in the air at once.

Hang on chaps - there is a flyby in Nottinghamshire next weekend, then theres Southport !!!!! Mmmmmmmmmmm ...........!

Jon - Laser Engines15/09/2014 14:03:16
5415 forum posts
263 photos

I saw the writing on the wall on Friday and decided not to even attempt going. Im really glad I didn't now. I have never had this problem before with duxford, I think they shot themselves in the foot by only having the two lancasters display on one day only. This was always going to make one day more attractive than the other and focus attendance.

The whole thing sounds like the experience I had as cosford earlier in the year. I arrived about 3 miles from the gate at 8.30 (when the gates opened) and it took almost 2 hours to get in from there. I had a similar experience in 07 when the Vulcan first flew there but this time we didn't get into the show after 5 hours waiting. Cosford is the worst organised show I have ever experienced and I will never go again. I only went this year as some friends were over from the USA and wanted to see the red arrows.

Colin Leighfield15/09/2014 14:26:54
5993 forum posts
2503 photos

I suppose I was lucky, planned for this a while ago and saved the pennies for a silver pass which threw everything in and included VIP car parking (!) We got there fairly early and didn't get stuck too long in the queue on the M11, we were parked up by 10-30. At the end we did the museum and ate something, so didn't try to leave until 19-10. We were out in 5 minutes and home in Sutton Coldfield by 20-50.

The lack of direction to use the hard shoulder on the M11 seemed strange, though most people seemed to know they had to. Overall I got the impression that the sheer volume of numbers for the show with the two Lancasters was impossible to manage efficiently on the very restricted roads off the M11. The volume was overwhelming. We were up in the Dragon Rapide at about 12-30 and the chaos on the roads from every direction was obvious from the air.

weasel15/09/2014 15:39:59
381 forum posts
6 photos

Ken NE1,

That could have been part of the chaos the crowds were going wild knowing that the Weaz was

En-Route down to Duxford had to change I.D from a weasel to a stoat stoatly different ...

Ken AM going to the fly-in at Headcorn Kent this weekend are you wanting a lift down !!!!

Traveling Weaz NE66

Paul Marsh15/09/2014 17:52:47
3955 forum posts
1182 photos

I'm surprised how busy the full size air shows are. Cosford is the same - trying to get out takes ages. Shame the model shows aren't as busy - maybe just as well.

Couple of years ago, my dad went to Duxford - he had no trouble getting there, but he did fly in in his Chipmunk, so missed all the traffic...

ken anderson.15/09/2014 18:50:10
8632 forum posts
779 photos

teeth 2 .... weaz I would have loved to accompany(gan) with you this week end.....but unfortunately I'll have to let you loose on your own again youngin......try and behave...and no trying to drink the local hostelry dry.....have fun in the foreign part's....


ken Anderson ne...1 oot weaz is commin..

Edited By ken anderson. on 15/09/2014 18:50:29

ascot15/09/2014 18:58:55
29 forum posts

Last saw this kind of chaos with the 70th BOB on the Sunday came all the way from SA to watch , this time came to watch the two Lancs and the weather spoilt it. Anyway Duxford is still worthwhile .

John Privett15/09/2014 19:25:32
6039 forum posts
241 photos

After the engine problems that stopped the Canadian Lancaster flying at Shoreham 2 or 3 weeks ago I think Duxford was always going to be very busy.

I'll admit that when I saw the warnings on Friday evening on the IWM website I was in two minds whether or not to go. They made it quite clear that there were much fewer tickets available for the Sunday than there would normally have been and did say that the car park for those buying tickets on the day would fill up early, and that those arriving from the park and ride in Cambridge could arrive to find the last tickets already sold. They even advised those with tickets to arrive at 8am if possible.  However, the thought that if I didn't go then I'd "have to" drive up to somewhere on Merseyside to see them next weekend made me determined to get there.

We set off at 6am and arrived at the start of the queue (at the roundabout at the top of the sliproad off the M11) at about 7:30. The queue moved steadily and we were parked and at the ticket booth before 8am. A stroll round the Land Warfare section and then the American hangar were completed before it was time for a coffee. We spent the rest of the show just to the right of the tent where the Rapide flights were being run from, and thoroughly enjoyed all the flying.

At the end, rather than rush off to sit in a queue, we took the advice given over the PA to stay and look round the museum, which we did until the museum finally closed around 7-ish. By then our car-park was almost empty, although there were still queues for those in the VIP on-site car-parks, and the traffic from the airfield back to the M11 was at a virtual standstill. The exit from our car-park took us out goodness-knows where, and following the signs eventually deposited us on the M11 north of Duxford. It was somewhat slow from the Duxford junction heading south, but eventually the traffic eased a bit and I got home about 10pm.

A great day out, and as usual I have far too many photos from the day, and - typically for Duxford - most of them shot against the sun. One day somebody is going to have to turn the airfield around so we can shoot facing north!



Edited By John Privett on 15/09/2014 19:28:35

stuey15/09/2014 20:40:46
607 forum posts
12 photos
I went on Saturday and got there just before ten, no real queue got straight in. Getting out was another story. Tried to get out at about 17.45 and watched nothing move for 20ish minutes. Decided to give up and had something to eat before trying again. I got out about 19.15 so about 1 1/2 hours after first attempt. There were rumours that someone had a bump getting out causing a delay, but after reading this lot I'm not so sure it wasnt poor management. Lots of queue jumpers too. At least I got there this time after the 6 hr round trip to get within 7 miles of Dunsfold.
Terry Mills15/09/2014 23:47:49
71 forum posts

Agree wholeheartedly about pre-booking for special events, as this would speed entry up, even though the approach from the A1 can only be single lane for the last few miles. I left home at 9am for a one hour drive, arrived on the airfield at 1pm - the final few miles took three hours. This probably coloured my mood, as I thought that the flying display as a whole was "low key with sparkly bits". I was disappointed with the Lancaster display, as they spent most of the time in a tail chase. At the end of the official display they flew off to the north of the airfield, and seemed to be doing the sort of things which would have made a great public display. Then the B17 took off, and my heart leaped at the thought of a Lancaster / B17 formation, but it did not happen. Why?

The "feel" of Duxford seems to be changing. There seemed to be more non-aviation stalls, and the public access to the flight line fence seems to have been further eroded by special "pay extra"enclosures. The same mistake was made at Old Warden.

Do I need to say that the queues for the lavatories, both male and female, were ridiculous, but that on a positive note, the numbers of peole trying to hog the viewing fence by erecting tents was much reduced.

Happily, the Red Arrows were in amazing form.

And although the staff were working very hard, leaving the airfield was very, very, slow - but given the number of people who were there, and the narrowness of the roads, it could not have been otherwise.

chris larkins16/09/2014 02:20:01
210 forum posts
145 photos

I live in Luton so not far from Duxford, I hadn't pre-booked any tickets and like most on here I had seen the warnings on the website the night before and decided that there would be little chance of getting in before the remaining tickets sold out, I also anticipated queueing for hours to get in and out. I looked at the BMFA events listing and noted that there was an 'Electric Day' at the NLMFC in Baldock, they have a terrific flying site and for those that haven't been there before they have several open days throughout the year and allow visitors to fly (with proof of insurance and an 'A' or 'B'. The plan was formed, myself and my daughter drove the 20 mins to Baldock and spent 3-4 hours at the model show then at around 1pm we drove the remaining 20 mins to Duxford. I have been to many shows at Duxford before and have always noticed that many people seem to park in the surrounding lanes just outside the airfield although I was a little sceptical about how much could be seen. We drove from Royston to Chrishall along the B1039 then towards the A505, as we approached Duxford we noticed that lots of people were parking along the verge, close to Grange Road if you look on the map, from here we followed the crowd and after a 10 min walk along the edge of a field we found a spot that seemed to be popular with many people setting up cameras. I can only say that the view we had was amazing, I would have been happy to have paid the entrance fee but was put off by the warnings on the Duxford website, in the end we had a right result as we encountered no traffic, had free parking, got a great view, and saved around £40. Below is a video of the Lancaster's that I took from our spot in the field.

Edited By cessna_aerobat on 16/09/2014 02:21:05

Edited By cessna_aerobat on 16/09/2014 02:30:17

Edited By cessna_aerobat on 16/09/2014 02:31:16

Ian Denny16/09/2014 07:41:38
7 forum posts

Having had experiences of the Mildenhall airshows in the past, my son and I travelled by motorbike to Duxford on Sunday. Definitely the way to get in and out of airshows. We left home at 7-30am and were parked up outside the hangar by 9am. Getting out was also no problem. We both enjoyed the day out.

Cuban816/09/2014 11:10:24
2905 forum posts
1 photos

My criticism of the organisers is that they must have known that they were brewing 'a perfect storm' as regards traffic on the Sunday and should have taken the clear cut decision to make Sunday entry by ticket only, well before the day and advertised the fact prominently on the website etc. At least those who did have tickets wouldn't have had all the aggravation caused by those of us who didn't, but traveled in the hope of getting in.

We attend all of Duxford's airshows (members of the 'Friends of Duxford' and whilst always busy, the roads can manage the traffic without too much trouble. My gripe is that if another very special airshow is planned in the future, and nothing is done to address the fact that possibly twice the number of visitors over a normal airshow will try to attend, then a repeat of the mess that we saw on Sunday will occur. It's not as though this hasn't happened before!

Duxford airshows with very special aircraft appearing are only relatively few and far between, and as such are managed as best as they can be on the day (not very well IMO), but attention does need to be paid to the fact that one cannot get a quart into a pint pot, no matter how well intentioned.

Edited By Cuban8 on 16/09/2014 11:28:43

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