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.