Prince Harry thrills crowds with Cosford Air Show visit but 50,000 turn-out brings traffic chaos

Thousands of people were stuck in nine-mile queues trying to get to the Cosford Air Show – prompting bosses to pledge refunds to visitors who failed to get in.

There was chaos as more than 50,000 people descended on the event, causing hours of delays.

Bosses warned drivers would not be allowed in if they did not have a pre-booked ticket.

But an ‘unprecedented’ number of people turned up to the show, which featured a surprise appearance from Prince Harry as part of the Apache Attack Helicopter Display Team.

Queues stretched for up to six miles along the M54, while the A41 was congested back to Wolverhampton nine miles away, making it three hours to reach the 75th anniversary event.

Today Cosford spokeswoman Amanda Butcher said those who failed to get in to the show after paying £25 a ticket could apply to get their money back. “People seeking a refund are welcome to contact us and we will look at each individual case,” she said.

Despite the doors to the event opening at 8.30am, visitors were still stuck in traffic jams well into the afternoon.

Bosses announced late yesterday morning that they would only admit people with advance tickets – but by that point thousands had been stuck in traffic for hours.

Some people with advance tickets turned round and went home before getting near the site. Problems spread through the Midlands, with the A5 through Weston-under-Lizard badly affected, and villages including Brewood, Essington and Tong becoming clogged with cars.

Traffic was stationary on the M54 westbound between junction 2 for Wolverhampton and junction 3 at Albrighton. Cara Law had booked tickets at £25 per person with her 13-year-old son but turned round after moving 1.2 miles in three hours, still seven miles from Cosford.

She tweeted: “One would suggest the traffic management plan has failed. Terribly.” And Giles Bennett said: “What a waste of a lovely day. Nearly five hours and counting on the M54. Planes could at least fly over the motorway!”

Those who did manage to attend enjoyed a surprise royal visit as Prince Harry showed off his flying skills in a military helicopter.

The 28-year-old, known as Captain Wales in the Army, was part of the Apache Attack Helicopter Display Team. His 3.10pm appearance was a closely guarded secret, with even top brass event organisers only finding out one hour before his appearance. Spectators found out that the prince was flying over their heads when it was announced on the public address system.

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Comments for: "Prince Harry thrills crowds with Cosford Air Show visit but 50,000 turn-out brings traffic chaos "


Perhaps next time these people will stop causing traffic chaos on the roads that everyone else has to suffer just because they want to see some planes!! The sheep are at it once again bleeting and following each other!!

Mick Boz

We too heard that anyone without tickets would be turned away. Being in the queue it was impossible to turn around so we went in and paid at the gate without any issues. Whilst doing so we saw loads of people paying on the gate where the attendants had hundreds of tickets for cash payments. To advise otherwise adds to the poor organisational skills that were evident throughout the day. Show was first class but traffic management in and around was embarrassing for the organisers.

Mark Hulse

stjoe, you wouldn't be saying that if you went. It was absolutely brilliant! A top day out. Don't be so bitter. Just because you spent the day sat on the sofa talking to yourself does not mean that the people who went are sheep. The traffic could have been better organised but with such a large turnout there was always going to be congestion!

Mrs C M Clark

We started queueing on the M54 at 8.30am, and finally got parked at Cosford just before 2pm. Those arriving around us had similar delays. We were listening to Radio Cosford, so we knew the situation about being turned away if you did not have pre-paid tickets, but we wondered how many others in the queue were unaware. We saw lots of cars pull out of the queue, and a number who tried to queue jump and force their way in further up. We watched in horror as motorists using the motorway were forced to make emergency stops caused by these idiots. Passengers were leaving their vehicles and walking up the hard shoulder trying to get there quicker, but eventually a police motorcyclist came and turned them back.

Having watched just half of the display, we then faced a three-hour wait to leave the car park at the end of the day.

I regularly attend Farnborough Air Show and the traffic arrangements there run like clockwork. I personally think the organisers severely underestimated the numbers of attendees (although they must have had some idea from the pre-booked ticket sales). I certainly will not be attending again.

Planning Ahead

A major event in a site where road access is in some places restrictive. Good weather promised and so the possibility of lots of people turning up on the spur of the moment. Recipe for long queues causing delays and anguish.

RAF Cosford is served by a railway station right on the doorstep. Cosford station is served by trains from Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury/Wrexham/Chester. A little forethought and prior planning could have had people parking at a relatively close station and getting the train to Cosford in plenty of time to see the whole display. Once the display was over a short relaxing walk back to the station for the train back to the car would make for a stress free and enjoyable afternoon.

The car is not the only solution to getting to the venue. Complaints by people about being stuck in their cars just shows that they do not have the capacity to think ahead and plan their day. They keep whingeing that its everyone else's fault for not organising things properly. Well the lack of thinking ahead shows that those who are complaining wouldn't be capable of organising a barbecue in a butchers.


If the event organisers sell tickets that include parking surely the ticket purchaser should be able to reasonably expect that provision is made for them to park? I wouldn't barbeque in a butchers anyway as it would not be allowed due to H&S legislation.


I did go by train. Luckily only three stops and 15 mins away as we were packed in like sardines nd not everyone was able to get on at Wolverhampton. The train stopped at the stations along the way, platforms were full but so was the train, so no one got on. Codsall station was rammed with cars left badly parked. Coming back was better organised and i did get a seat.

Once you are in a traffic jam it is very hard to get out of it and i for one am glad that no more people took the train.

Happy Camper

I was at the show and had a good time, the displays were excellent and very well done. As a Wolverhampton resident I know how bad the roads get so travelled in by train, although even that had difficulties. Some trains were already packed out when they arrived at the stations, but they only consisted on 2 or 3 carriages. Other trains were cancelled due to overcrowding, which was only going to make things worse.

The trains back were as bad and the queues for them were horrendous. Facing a wait of an hour for the next train I walked to a nearby pub and arranged for a friend to pick me up when the roads had cleared.

Arriva Wales missed an opportunity here and if future years are to avoid chaos on the roads there needs to be a good public transport alternative


Terrible traffic mangement and long delays of (in my case) 2.5 hours. not a worst as someone next to us in the que had been waiting since 4 and this was 8 in the evening. No idea of how many paople but tickets shouldn't be sold if the traffic management could not cope.

to add to this some staff said to wait around and enjoy the stalls which along with the toilets were shutting!

Poor experience and this is nothing like other airshows like Farnborough and Fairford.

Would not recommend or return.


Here's a hint not to get stuck in traffic next time....TAKE THE TRAIN! Cosford has its own railway station.


An excellent idea. Then perhaps the roads wouldn't be snarled up!!


If 50000 people take the train how do you think that would turn out??

A friend of mine took the train and was waiting for 2 hours to get the train back (not sure how she got on getting there) and that was with most people driving

I left Wolverhampton at 07:40 and queued from just past the new I54 development for nearly 2 hours watching people who think they own the roads forcing there way into the queue and nearly causing accidents. I count myself as one of the lucky ones as I finally parking up at 09:50.

The day was a failure and not just because of the traffic. If you go to a British airshow you expect to see the Tornado and Harrier fly but they did not. The website shows them in the left hand column which I interpreted to be a flying display but there were a static display. On top of that, the Vulcan (main reason I went this year) did not give it full throttle so you did not get to experience one of the loudest planes ever made actually being loud!

No more Cosford for me but on a positive note the rest of the displays were good and the weather was perfect for an airshow.

Bigg Les

Harrier was either scrapped or sold to the Americans years ago - only the Americans who appreciate such useful technology fly them. I got there at 07.00 as I do every year and didn't have a problem. I left at 20.00 and equally no problem travelling the 20 miles home. . Punters should take a reality check, if they can't face a challenge and start out really early (I do that for RIAT) or stay at home and be a couch potato!


Good idea in theory.

Arrived at Codsall station at 9am to be told that as the train had filled up at Wolverhampton ,it wouldnt be stopping at Codsall.

Long story short-ended up walking and got there at midday.

Thanks for nothing Arriva trains. Anyone with a braincell might have foreseen this situation and put on an extra coach or two


In case any drivers were looking for alternatives, the trains were no better. We left the show at 520pm, but the 6.03 pm in the direction of Wolverhampton was full and we then had a 2 hour wait on the platform for the next train caused (according to railway staff) by an incident involving a drunk on the line near Wellington who had to be rescued, appropriately, by air ambulance. Families with hungry and thirsty young children were swearing never to travel by train to the show in the future. I overheard rail staff saying there were at least a 1000 in the train queue behind us at 6pm and the show was still going on. For justifiable safety reasons, they allowed only 250 people on the platform for each train. With a wait of only 2.5 hours, we were the lucky ones.

You would think the railway line would be the answer to the traffic woes, but forget it. the best that they could ever do would be one train per hour going all stations to Wolverhampton and another going direct to Wolverhampton/Birmingham. This means they are maxed out on trains. That's without the drunk on the line.

Mrs R Welch

We left home at 10.00 for the 45 minute drive to Cosford and managed to get parked by 11.45 so a delay of one hour which wasn't too bad. It was our first visit to the show and thought it was absolutely brilliant so will definitely go again. It took us 3 1/4 hours to get home so there needs to be some improvement there. We saw quite a few stewards standing around talking instead of helping us all to get out of the car parks. It was just a fiasco and some twit had parked their car in the exit lane and left it so others were blocked in.


Clearly, depending on people's personal experience, sundays airshow was either a fantastic day out, or a very frustrating non event.

Having lived in the adjacent village to Cosford for the last seven years I know from experience that on this one day in the year it is not wise to use the car as all the roads clog up quite quickly. Not much comfort I know for those visiting for the first time, but if your're not in the queue to the entrance to the site by 9.00am then you can expect a long tiresome delay.

This year was exceptionally bad because of the exceptionally good weather. However, that's no excuse for the organisers for not putting into place some contingency plans to cater for what is always a popular event.

To the organisers I would suggest the following:-

1) Consider opening the gates at 7.00am or even earlier. It may make it a long day for the staff on duty be will certainly help ease the congestion in and around the area.

2) A park and ride scheme with priority given to the buses over cars, to ferry people into site .

3) Negotiate with the train operators to put on additional trains from Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury. Perhaps a discounted price to encourage visitors to use a "Cosford Special" with their pre-paid tickets would help the operators to know how many additional trains to put on.

The airshow is a fanastic once a year event, which should be enjoyable experience. With some careful planning by both visitors and organisers it does not, and should not, be an ordeal.


I too visited yesterday's show and it was fantastic, as per usual, and what a special treat to see Captain Wales flying.

We always go by train from Shrewsbury and yes after the show we waited for 30 minutes to get on a train (all the station staff were fantastic and extremely helpful). Once on the train, we were held up for 90 minutes due to some poor person (drunk or not) getting injured on the railway line and needing air ambulance support - I hope they are doing well. All those in our carriage were extremely good natured and how people thought it was helpful to swear and curse railway staff at cosford I am not sure

As for those turning up on the day without a ticket, it sounded as if you ruined a lot of others' day. It clearly said on the website that all tickets had been sold and only a very LIMITED number of tickets were available at the gate and they strongly recommended people travelled by rail.

So I for one do not blame the organisers but those who failed (unlike the 40,000 people) to get themselves a ticket in advance!!!!


Well said. It seems like a lot of people created their own misery!!


We arrived at the Airfield at 7.15am, just before they actually opened the gates, got in no problem & waited until after the end of the display to leave, again did't take too long to get out.... Moral of the story, you want to avoid the traffic chaos, prepare for an early start!

Mr Wyatt

I totally agree with Mrs Clark. A lot of the problems occurred on the M54 because most law abiding folks moved onto

the hard shoulder as the road signs requested. There always seem to be members of the public who put other peoples

and their own lives at risk, jumping the queue expecting to be let in at the exit. Perhaps next year, traffic marshals should

monitor this and force these idiots on, making them pay for their selfish behavior. Having got that off my chest, enjoyed the

show that I saw.


in answer to above persons comments .just to clear a few points up ,we had pre paid for the show so giving up was not an option.we had set out from nuneaton at 09.30 {plenty of time for an afternoon show you would think }after hitting traffic on M54 and A41 we finally got parked up at 14.45 at possibly the most remote part of the airfield a half mile walk was needed to see any thing left of the show .also i,m afraid we didnt get out till 20.33 and even this by means of a back crash gate exit.never again.


I agree people traveling to cosfofd yesterday,and followed all the road signs ,then to have some idiot ,trying to and to blast there car hornsat yyou when you won't let them in.other than that a truly fantastic day'joy

gReEn NigEl

Why do the gates open so late ? They should open at 6am,or even earlier,for those who want to avoid queues and low-life queue-jumpers.



We left home at 7am for 1.5hr journey from Gloucestershire and queued on the motorway (as usual) and got in at 9.45am.

Airshow excellent but chaos when trying to leave as it took us 2hrs just to get to the exit gate.

No signage or direction arrows to say where cars should leave so became a free-for-all - all heading for one exit!

RAF personnel did their best but organisers need to open up more exits to prevent future problems.

Left via a gate that was eventually opened up and made our way home via Bridgnorth, Kidderminster, Worcester.

Maybe it's a problem with airfields and their location/access as Waddington and RIAT (Fairford) can be a headache too.

Think I may take the train next time.


We left Penkridge at 9:30, and was parked up by 11:15. Took some back roads, so not too bad. Brilliant day had by my and my sisters family.


we were in the queue for one hour,it was total chaos getting in.but it was well worth it.fantastic day. left it for about hour and got out without any problems.moral of story go early and stay late.

Maria Harris

Besides arriving 5 hours late (1:30pm) due to traffic chaos, we was ushered to park in a secluded area. We could not hear the speaker system nor see the full display as we were block off by trees. I mainly go to the Air show to see four of my favourite planes which is the Tornado, Typhoon , Harrier and the Vulcan. However, the Typhoon was displayed whilst I was still sitting on the M54 queuing and the Vulcan did not show her full potential. I was really hoping to see the Tornado as that would have made up for a miserable day.

Putza Shiftin

It took me 3 hours from Codsall, which is usually a 15 minute journey and I left at about 8am. I've never seen traffic like it around the area.

I can't see how the organisers can do much more to control volumes of traffic arriving into a bottleneck. The trains as usual were a farce and they really should be able to up their game. I do think the gates could have opened earlier if they knew the traffic was stacking up as far away from the base as it was, but I suppose there are reasons why it only opened at 0830.

That said, I thought that it was an excellent show for those who got in and probably the best show there for a few years.


I've been to comfort on and off for the last 5 years just use the train its easy !!!


We left Wrexham at 7.30am and went up the A41 it was ok until we hit two miles worth of traffic. nearly two hours later we got into the car park which was fine.

Had a fab day enjoying the planes and the sunshine, we went like some have mentioned on here to see the Vulcan and were a little disappointed that they didn't give it full throttle where as the Typoon went past and set of car alarms!

Leaving was another story....stewards walking round sending cars in different directions but not actually guiding traffic. At one point there was three rows of cars leaving, the middle row pointing in the opposite direction having being told to go the other way, then we had army cadets in mini busses etc deciding they wanted to get through everyone total gridlock! I must say the guy in the orange high vis who eventually came to carpark 2 sorted it out straight away, meaning in the end we only waited an hour to get out.

We were guided over the runway...I noticed however this is after the VIP car park was empty. At first they wouldn't let cars out over the runway due to 'restrictions on the air field' but obviously that was the way the VIP tent were being let out.

I think next time they need to be more organised when letting people out but had a fab day!

Bigg Les

I don't know how Ciara could have paid £25 for advanced tickets when they were £15.00 Pants on fire!


We left Bilston at 10.30am to finally arrive and parked in RAF Cosford for 1.15pm, a 20 minute drive usually!

Thankfully the weather was brilliant, so whilst my dad was slowly driving in his car in the queue, we could get out and walk beside being able to watch the first lot of acrobatic planes. Also whilst we had to park in a field to let oncoming traffic through the narrow lane, we also got to see the Parachutists jumping out of their plane.

Only thing my dad was gutted about was missing the flight path of the Typhoon, although we briefly saw it from the queue but it wasn't quite the same but once we got parked up and sat down, I must say we probably had one of the better places to see everything from. We were very close to the Apache so we could see Captain Wales quite clearly :-)

Once it was time to leave, due to being parked near the gate it took us all of 5 minutes to get back out! Although we were extremely lucky there compared to a lot of people, I will admit that organisation for the cars going in was very poor. I don't remember it being that bad previously!


We have been for the last four years and we have never had the problems we had yesterday. We live just off j1 of the m54 got on the m54 at 9am ( over an hour earlier than we usually go) yet didn't get in until 1pm( we normally eat in about 10.45am). The problem was people turning p without tickets. Maybe next time if there are no advance tickets the organisers should put signs saying so on all the major roads (perhaps next to the ones directing you to the air show) so people know well before arriving, also they need someone checking for tickets a the entrance, not waiting until people have driven in and then having the problem of directing them back out. finally I suggest that they divert / filter the traffic from each route into a different entrance and car park rather than trying to get everyone in the main gates. We had left the queue on the hard shoulder and were giving up and going home yet when we left the M54 at j3 (to go round the island and go home) we were filtered into a queue for the air show and went straight in through an alternative entrance that they had just opened up. why didn't they open this earlier and get people using both the hard shoulder and the inside lane of the motorway?

Mrs Mills

My family and I had a fantastic day out watching the displays and enjoying the sunshine. We attended the year earlier when the weather wasn't so good and obviously no queues. I think a big thank you should go to all the RAF personnel who worked from the early hours to ensure people got in safely and had a good time and who were also up at 6.00am this morning tiding up after all the visitors, a thankless task.


Left Cannock at 09:15 got in just after the Start of Battle of Britain Memorial flight

around 5hrs. Tuned in to Cosford Radio(frequency found by my son on his phone) to keep in touch with Traffic the reports where very useful and we knew we would get in sometime.

It may have helped if the radio frequency was on notice boards along the route, as they where telling people not to turn up if the did not have tickets but, did not let people know where to find the traffic information .

But despite the hold up still enjoyed what we saw.

ian edwards

What is all the fuse about.... Got up around 9.30am had lovely breakfast with my partner and set out on our journey from West Brom to Cosford just in time to find a space and get settled with our picinic to await the arrival of the Typhon.. Our journey took just over 20 minutes from start to finish... Forgot to mention We were on a Motorbike..... Bikes do have their uses..

James Aston

If you struggled to get into the show this year and feel put off with going next year then come and join Tettenhall Round Table in our field which is at the end of the runway so we have a great view if the show with non of the issues with getting there as you get to us using the back roads from Codsall Wood. We only charge £10 per car and put on a BBQ and drinks tent, inflatables to help keep the young ones entertained and all the money goes to charity. All are welcome so like us out on Facebook and you'll be kept up to date with Cosford as well as loads of other great events throughout the year!


after reading some of the comments here my only suggestion is to leave early I aim to be at cosford for 730 am each year and leave Walsall at 7am and have met only a small amount of traffic perhaps it would be a good idea to open gates around 7am in future but waiting is all part of the day for an event like this and I have encountered it at several airshows I have seen a decent park and ride bus shuttle using special lanes for speedy journey perhaps an idea for the future has for the return home I guess its all down to lack of exit routes and I usually stay back and relax accepting the fact its a long queue out and wait overall I felt the show was well planned and I enjoyed it unfortunately the airbase is in an area were horses and livestock also live and I accept the Vulcan turns down her volume I have been to a few shows she has to do the same however if its full volume you want try Waddington I wasn't disappointed ill be there at cosford next year


I went to the Tettenhall Round Table Event at a field at the end of the runway, right under the flight path of the aircraft, & had an absolutely top day in the sunshine, plus it only cost £10 per car.

We left Wyre Forest at 11am & arrived at the field, set up and were watching the fun start from 12:15 not too bad!

All the monies raised by Tettenhall Round Table on the day go back to local community projects & charities.

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