August 2016

As I write this first Blog entry on 21 Aug 16, my mind reflects back 12 months to a chance conversation with the Station Commander shortly after my arrival at RAF Cosford. He kindly offered to buy me several Gin & Tonics in the Officers’ Mess, and then politely offered me the amazing opportunity to be the Chairman of the RAF Cosford Airshow in 2017. How could anyone refuse such an chance to deliver a 50,000 persons event safely and to a high standard that would build on RAF Cosford’s reputation? 

So where do you start with such a task? The first action was to shadow the previous Chairman’s work in delivering the hugely successful 2016 Airshow, and I thank Wing Commander Rich Osselton for his professionalism and patience with me over a busy year. An old mate of mine, we connected easily and he really brought me into his event control.

The next step was to establish the key relationships, both formal and informal, that exist in any large organisation that has a busy role but also an airshow to deliver. The good news is that we have a very small and committed professional team who keep the machine turning. They are ably supported by the many RAF personnel who support this high-profile event, and also many other organisations such as the Air Training Corps, RAF Fire and Rescue Service and the many local emergency services and local authority. The mind-map of the inter-relationships for the event reminds me of the Afghanistan Helmand Province engagement plan!

The Director and head of this civilian team is Clive. He has extensive experience of working within the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises team and he has helped to deliver the Royal International Air Tattoo that is held annually at Fairford.

The Deputy Director and commercial lead is Marilyn. She is a ninja at marketing and event organising and brings energy and a sense of purpose to the office.

Michaela is the Social Media expert and provides superb office support and an amazing level of patience in dealing with RAF staff and their many questions!

Peter is a new member of the team and has recently completed a degree in Aviation Management. Previously a volunteer member of the team, I’m pleased to confirm that Peter is now full-time. When not planning our airshow, Peter goes to other airshows; a lot!

Simon is our grounds organiser and has the herculean task of organising space, exhibitors, barriers, car-parking areas and general nudging of people in the right direction as we build up to the event. Herding- energetic-cats is one polite description I’ve heard of his work!

Mike is our Flying Display Director and he has extensive experience of safely running the flying programme at many UK events. As Retired RAF aircrew, we rely on Mike’s airspace control skills.

My role is very much to deliver the Airshow for the Station Commander and a large part of that is in allocating some 70+ projects to Project Managers, ensuring that we comply with current aviation regulations (both civil and military), engaging with the community, running planning exercises that test our responses and being the Military Silver Commander on the day itself.

Edward de Bono could have used the team above as part of his Six Thinking Hats idea on the formulation of high-performing teams. As the sole military member of the delivery team, I’m clearly the 7th hat (make of that what you will!).  As of today there are only 294 days until the #Cosford17 airshow on 11 June 2017! All good planning starts with an initial meeting and we held ours a month ago. More to come! For now, I can tell you that our 3 Key Themes for 2017 are: Battlefield Support, International Cooperation, and Space. I will explain more next month; but until then I have Project Managers to volunteer, and I need to start thinking about ideas for our exciting themes and getting some aircraft! Wing Commander Chris Jones, Chairman #Cosford17

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