Thanks to everyone who visited our Wild Weekend event with SaxonAir in Norwich at the end of May. The weekend was a great opportunity to explore aviation’s wider relationship with conservation, mitigating actions and what a sustainable future in this sector can and will look like in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Friday: Nature Networking
The business day was well supported with many members from local industry as well as media. The day kicked off with a live interview on BBC Radio Norfolk.
Presentations ran throughout the day in the Meeting Room. Explorers Against Extinction did a presentation on Aviation and Conservation, looking at the many ways that aerial support is used in a conservation setting, including for law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, human-wildlife mitigation situations, seed dispersal, life saving and ecotourism.
Delegates also heard from SaxonAir CEO Alex Durand and NEBOair’s Sergei Gratchev, who introduced everyone to the world’s first electric Zero Carbon Emissions aircraft, which was on display in the hangar throughout the weekend. Later in the day, Professor Thicke, a bee expert, was broadcast live from the Chelsea Flower Show to talk more about the SaxonAir bees.
Saturday: Open Morning
We were delighted to see so many families with young children visit the hangar and explore the exhibits and talk to stand holders. Our Explorer Trail around the hangar proved popular – children were invited to hunt for 10 cards hidden around the venue, noting down the letter written in each card to make a word. The card hidden on the Norwich Porsche Centre’s Ferry-the-Bear (by the electric Porsche Taycan) proved quite challenging to find!
Handgliding over Bangladesh by VR also attracted a good crowd with young and old enjoying it equally. Many visitors took the opportunity to sit in a helicopter, learn about Sustainable Aviation Fuel and electric aircraft, and to visit the stands which included other conservation organisations from the East such as The Conservation Volunteers and Watatunga Wildlife Reserve. In the spirit of carbon offsetting, guests were invited to take away a sapling or seedballs to plant out and nurture at home.
Saturday Evening: Dinner Dance
The final few visitors left at around 1.30pm and our enthusiastic team of volunteers got to work transforming the space ready for our evening dinner-dance.
We had a fantastic night planned, starting at 7pm with a drinks reception to live jazz. A street food supper was provided by Amma’s Kitchen and Khushee Street Food while some of our explorer patrons and friends made a cameo on the big screen for our Around the World in 10 Questions Quiz.
While guests tucked into pudding provided by Bakeaholics UK we got the auction and raffle under way. Prizes included a biofuel-powered helicopter flight over the Broads with SaxonAir, a stay at Wilderley in the Waveney Valley (including a flight in the NEBOair electric aircraft) and a 3 night stay in a holiday cottage in North Norfolk. We are very grateful to our donors for these fantastic prizes which helped the charity, together with donations and proceeds from the Opihr Gin Bar and Hangar Bar to raise over £6,000 on the night – fantastic! All the winners have now been notified – congratulations and thank you to everyone who supported in person or virtually.
The evening concluded with dancing to the brilliant Debbie Boyd Band.
The feedback from the event has been excellent with many people remarking on the venue, and the novelty of a having a dinner-dance to a backdrop of iconic vehicles.
Thank you to everyone who supported the weekend with special thanks to SaxonAir for hosting it.
A few photos follow.
Image credits: Explorers Against Extinction
Main image and bottom right image taken by Izzi during the Eastern Daily Press photo shoot with Denise Bradley.
Image features a range of electric vehicles and (from left): John Dewing, Rebekah Hill and Alex Durand (SaxonAir), Sara White (EAE) and Kerry Wilmot (NEBOair & Wilderley).