The Imperial War Museum at Duxford is home to Classic Wings and its corporate events. We believe that you couldn't wish for a better venue to entertain your staff or clients. It offers a unique environment, acres of fascinating historical aviation exhibits, and a new state-of-the-art conference facility - AirSpace. We speak to Terri Butcher from Classic Wings to find out more.
Please introduce to us Classic Wings
Classic Wings have been flying vintage aircraft for over 25 years now, and we fly about 9,000 people a year. We are a family run business who operate and maintain our own aircraft, and we are based at the fabulous IWM Duxford. We fly many individuals who have bought gift vouchers for themselves or their friends and family, and we also host corporate events which offer a large range of both airborne and ground activities. Everyone who works for and with us is passionate about flying and many have learned to fly with us.
You work with our fantastic venue IWM Duxford. Please could you tell us more about your relationship with the venue?
We have built up our business there from operating pleasure flights in just one small aircraft, to the whole fleet of aircraft that we have today. We have a close relationship with all departments, and in particular the conference and catering company, as we can all help each other. A corporate event at Duxford will involve lots of people other than just ourselves to ensure that all elements of the day run smoothly and guests have the best possible experience. We are currently the sole operators at IWM Duxford able to offer these unique flights and events.
What does Classic Wings offer to corporates and why is it something for companies to get involved in?
A company day with Classic Wings at Duxford offers a dynamic contrast to the usual rounds of golf or attendance at a sports event. All our guests will participate in the activities which can be tailored to the company's requirements and budget and there is something to suit everyone, whether you want to fly or not. Invest in a day with us and you can be sure your guests will be favourably impressed - they will have an unforgettable experience which will reflect well on you as the host.
Why do delegates LOVE the Classic Wings experience?
After 20 years of operating at Duxford, our team have developed a product which encourages participation and leaves the client with a sense of having taken part in something worthwhile and unique. It offers nostalgia, excitement, exhilaration, and sometimes a once in a lifetime experience.
What experience would you recommend for adrenaline junkies?
It's very difficult to pick just one experience, but probably the ultimate would be a 30 minute flight in the 2-seat Spitfire. It doesn't get any better than flying from a WW2 airfield in a genuine WW2 fighter. Or aerobatics in the T6 Harvard – a really powerful machine with an engine noise to match - and Cambridgeshire looks very different upside down at 2000 feet and 170 mph!
What experience would you recommend for those who would normally enjoy their feet being firmly planted on the ground?
We’ve got plenty to entertain those who really don’t want to fly – perhaps taking the controls of an armoured personnel carrier, or driving a hovercraft round out obstacle course. But if they wanted to get a taste of flying, a gentle meander over Cambridge in our Dragon Rapide would fit the bill.
I can imagine you get a whole range of initial reactions to these flying experiences. What is the funniest reaction that you have seen?!
It’s usually what we’ve heard rather than what we’ve seen. We’ve had a number of interesting one-liners as they leave the aircraft! I won’t repeat it here!
Also, one girl on a corporate event took a flight in the Tiger Moth, and many months later she came to visit us as a fully fledged commercial pilot! Her experience on the corporate day had inspired her to learn to fly.
There’s always a bit of apprehension before some of the flights with the guys not wanting to appear cool about the whole thing and not admitting to any nerves.
Most commonly people can’t believe how smooth the fights are and how responsive the aircraft are. And they all come back with a huge grin.
And last but not least, do you get to take to the sky yourself!
Yes I’m very lucky and have flown in most of the aircraft, with the exception of the two warbirds – the Harvard and the Spitfire. The Dragon Rapide is my favourite as I love its elegant appearance. I used to have a private pilot’s licence myself but sadly I have let this lapse – maybe I’ll get it renewed one of these days as I’m certainly in the right place to do so!