Guest Post: Michelle Worthington presents Open Cockpits Night at RAF Museum Cosford

Today’s guest post comes from Michelle Worthington, Public Relations Executive at the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, Shropshire.


The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will be opening up its doors to visitors for a special evening event taking place on Saturday 19th May 2012. During ‘Open Cockpits Evening’, a selection of historic aircraft and cockpits will be available for close viewing for a limited number of visitors, allowing rare inside access to some of the World’s most historic aircraft.

Family pointing at planes in a museum

Missile display in the National Cold War Exhibition (c) RAF Museum

This will be the third time the event has been held at the Museum and it’s gathering momentum every time. In 2011 we decided to tie in with Museums at Night and after some consideration about what we could offer our visitors on an evening, it was decided that opening up our cockpits would be the perfect event.

A man sitting in an aeroplane cockpit

A visitor at the May Open Cockpits Evening (c) RAF Museum

We knew there was a demand for aircraft access amongst the aviation enthusiasts, as we often get asked the question, so we played to our strengths. To ensure the event was manageable we limited the numbers and set an admission charge which also helps cover the costs of running the event.

A father and son in an aeroplane cockpit

A father and son discover one of the historic aircraft (c) RAF Museum

Access inside the aircraft is something we are not able to do all the time. Many of the aircraft at the Museum are unique and you will not get the chance to get onto the flight deck or sit in the pilot’s seat of such types anywhere else in the world. Once inside the aircraft you’ll be able to appreciate how the pilots of such types felt before a flight with the mass of instruments in front of them.

Two men in the cockpit of a plane

Looking at the controls in an aeroplane cockpit (c) RAF Museum

The Open Cockpits Evening will allow for visitors to experience not just the exterior of the aircraft, but also the interior of. By opening them up to a limited number of visitors for this event, we are able to offer them quality time inside the aircraft, with our team of volunteers available to answer any questions.

A young man sitting in an aeroplane cockpit

The excitement of sitting in an aeroplane cockpit (c) RAF Museum

After the success of the first Open Cockpits Evening we held the event later in the year and we found lots of repeat visitors attended, plus over 100 additional visitors. This proved to us that there is a demand for the event, and that we had done a good job first time round as people were coming back!

Open Cockpits Evening is promoted mainly through press releases distributed to the local media and aviation press. Information and photos are also posted on the Museum’s website and Facebook page and Tweets are regularly posted keeping followers updated about what aircraft will be available on the evening. The event is listed in the Museum’s leaflet and events flyer and information is distributed to our e-newsletter followers.

A blue ticket for Open Cockpits Evening

A blue ticket for Open Cockpits Evening in May 2011 (c) RAF Museum

We also found a really effective way to advertise the event was through radio promotions. By providing local stations with tickets to the event, the presenters hyped up the event and ran competitions for their listeners to win the tickets. Some of the stations even asked their listeners to review the event. Linking in with Museums at Night we were also able to gain additional coverage as part of the national campaign.

A red ticket for Open Cockpits Evening in September 2011

Reusing the ticket design in a different colour - scarlet - for Open Cockpits Evening in September 2011 (c) RAF Museum

This year’s event will run in the same format but we are allowing access to some new aircraft, giving the repeat visitors something new to see and a new plug for the media. Promotion for the event will start soon but tickets have already started to sell, with the first sold in December, six months before the event. We are hopeful this year’s event will be as successful as the last, and would encourage other museums to offer an event to their visitors during Museums at Night!

Our Museums at Night Open Cockpits event will run from 6.00pm to 8.30pm on Saturday May 19th.  Numbers will be limited to 300 people, to allow enthusiasts to spend as much time as possible examining these wondrous aircraft close up. Admission is by advance ticket only.  Tickets costs £10.00 per person and are on sale now.  Minimum height restrictions of 1.07 metres will apply.  For further information call 01902 376200 or visit

A smiling woman with a fringeMichelle Worthington is the Public Relations Executive for the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford. You can keep up to date with news and events at the Museum through Facebook and Twitter.



Thank you Michelle! If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at or call me on 01273 623336.

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