Happy New Year to you all! As the festivities of the last few weeks fade into memories, let’s take a moment to celebrate our fourth birthday and the fact that we are entering the fifth year of The People’s Mosquito project – hard to believe we’ve been at this four years already! A moment to consider then, where we are, and where we are heading in 2016.
The past year was the busiest and most productive so far for the project. Our fundraising activities, including the TPM Shop, easyfundraising, the expansion of our eBay shop (where we have now achieved PowerSeller status!) and attendance at a greater number of airshows have shown a good return with steady growth in both interest and the fund.
In general, supporter numbers and general public awareness have grown significantly this year and we’d like to share some trivia with you first before getting onto the serious stuff.
The crunchy bits
For those of you who love analytics and number-crunching, the website was viewed about 123,000 times in 2015. That’s akin to us doing nearly 10 packed-out performances at Wembley Arena! Or about three days’ attendance at RIAT (which is, oddly, precisely what we did in July – so picture everyone that attended RIAT15 visiting our stand there at some time over the three days!). Visitors came from over 100 countries: from New Caledonia to New England, from Peru to Papua New Guinea and from Burkina Faso to Brazil. Not surprisingly the UK sits at the top of the list, followed by the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The busiest day of the year on the site was November 13th, with over 13,000 views, when we published news of our collaboration discussions with the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (more on that later).
The comments section on each post has proved popular and useful, and we ask you to please keep the comments coming, both on the regular postings and our “Say Hello” page – as we like to say: comments are free to make and your voice is important to us.
Our Facebook Page ‘Likes’ have almost trebled over the last twelve months to over 7,100, gaining over 4,100 new “Likes” since this time last year, with our most popular post – again regarding VTST – reaching over 20,000 people, and the long version of our Promo video was viewed by more than 9,500 people on Facebook alone. Our Supporters’ Facebook Group now has over 2,400 members, almost a third more than this time last year. We’ve had some interesting conversations on the Group and have also been some great Mosquito images and stories posted by members. If you are on Facebook and have not yet “liked” our Page or joined the Supporters’ Group, we urge you to do so – we need your support.
Our Twitter account (@peoplesmosquito) now has nearly 7,000 followers having seen over 2,300 new followers during 2015. This brings the total up by 50% on this time last year. We’ve tweeted over 2,700 times in the last twelve months – an average of around 7.4 tweets a day! We’ve enjoyed some great discussions and links and seen some wonderful images and video over the past year, and the conversation continues at www.twitter.com/peoplesmosquito, so we’d love you to join in.
Our Twibbon, in the shape of our Mission Patch logo (as seen top left), is now displayed on the avatars of over 400 people – a number we would like to grow significantly. Wearing the Twibbon on your Facebook/Twitter/other avatar shows your support for the project. It costs you nothing but is a great and very simple way to spread the word and increase awareness of the project to the wider world. You can get the Twibbon here.
2015 was only our second year of fundraising – we formed the company in 2012 and spent the first two years ensuring we had a plan that would be supported by the CAA – but we have upped our game in terms of merchandise, introducing a number of new branded items for sale, and broadening the range of goods available – both online and at airshows where we have been selling some show-exclusive items.
We have collaborated with a couple of great artists who have produced some superb pieces of artwork to help promote the project. Mark Waters at aircrafft.co.uk produced the extraordinary “Wooden Wonder” (as seen above) which is available as a high-quality print from his website, where he is donating 15% of sales to The People’s Mosquito. We have also used this stunning image on a t-shirt and mug, which have both been very popular at airshows, where they have been sold exclusively. We are planning a new version of the artwork for use on merchandise for the 2016 season.
James Biggadike of Airpower Art, who donated our popular Mosquito prints (available from the TPM eBay Shop), produced some more stirring Mosquito images and created the magnificent TPM Calendar 2016 for us – featuring on its cover a dramatic image of Mosquito FB Mk.VI MM403 SB-V of 464 Sqn. RAAF. The calendar proved incredibly popular and sold out well before Christmas.
Other items we added to the airshow-exclusive mix in 2015 include baseball caps, frisbees, key rings and some special t-shirts. These build upon the range available on the TPM shop which again proved popular last year and we started to see people wearing our goods out and about at airshows (as seen below). But we do need to do better and will be continually updating the merchandise available. The shop continues to offer regular discount events, so keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook and the website for notifications. Visit http://peoplesmosquito.spreadshirt.co.uk to take a look at the product range.
Sales of New Zealand-based Historical Aviation Film Unit’s superb “A Wooden Wonder Restored – de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito” continued steadily, both on-line and at airshows, raising a fair amount through sales over the year. The package, containing over two hours of stunning footage of the restored Mosquito FB.26 KA114, on DVD or Blu-Ray, is available on eBay for £22 and £30 inc. p&p respectively. You’ll find further details here.
We will shortly be introducing a new online shop that will be integral to the website and which will more easily allow us to sell a wider range of items. Watch out for details to be announced in the next couple of months.
We will soon be offering a number of exciting new prints for sale. Among them a John M. Dibbs litho print of Mosquito T.III RR299, signed by the remarkable Wg. Cdr. John ‘Cat’s Eyes’ Cunningham. Watch out for announcements about this and other new prints and some exciting new items of a more 3D nature within the next few weeks.
We had a good year on our stand at a number of air shows over the 2015 season. We attended RAF Cosford in June, East Kirkby in July (courtesy of Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre and the Large Model Association – many thanks to them for their hospitality), did a three day stint at RIAT in July and attended IWM Duxford’s Battle of Britain Anniversary show in September, where we saw a record number of people – this was the single most productive event in terms of merchandise sales and donations in our short history. The Vulcan to the Sky Club kindly invited us to attend their Farewell to the Sky event at Coventry, in September, which being one of XH558’s last displays, was a rather sad day, but we made a lot of new friends and contacts and it turned out to be a very worthwhile event for us. And with thanks to Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association we attended their LLA Day at RAF Coningsby. We were also at Shoreham in August and witnessed the terrible incident there involving Hunter G-BXFI, and our thoughts go out again to those affected by the tragedy.
The People’s Mosquito Club
The thing we were most often asked about by the public at this year’s airshows (apart from RL249 of course) was when are we going to introduce a club. Well, we are pleased to announce that we will soon be launching The People’s Mosquito Club. Both Annual and Life Memberships will be available at what we consider a reasonable and affordable price. Members’ benefits will include exclusive web content and special offers, although full details are still under discussion. Details of the Club and how to become a member will be announced in the next few weeks.
Our plans for returning RL249 to flight continue apace. New contractors/sub-contractors have been identified for specialist components. We have become an active participant in a new, mutually-supportive world-wide organisation of Mosquito owners and restorers. This has already paid off as a drawing for the wing-strengthening Mod. 638 has been located, and our CAA Design Liasion Engineer has been informed of this.
As far as the build goes, we have some exciting news on that front, which we will be announcing in a separate post shortly.
As you may have read, we are in collaboration discussions with VTST. Those discussions are ongoing and centre around how that organisation can help us achieve our aims through their knowledge and experience of marketing, merchandising and fundraising. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to gain traction in a quicker and more efficient way than we would otherwise be able to do. The joint announcement from TPM and VTST in November resulted in a surge of interest in the project and many new supporters joining us from within the ranks of XH558 fans. We are planning to announce full details of the collaboration in February.
We had a very hearty response to our call-out for airshow volunteers for the 2016 season, recently. We thank all the volunteers who put their (virtual) hands in the air – you will make a difference. We will be in touch with you all shortly.
The 2016 season will be our busiest yet, and we plan to attend as many shows as possible. This will be made more achievable, we hope, with our new volunteers on force. We look forward to seeing you at our stand at an airshow in the summer.
Overall, we have a long way to go, but with your help we can achieve our goal of returning a Mosquito to British skies. One of our targets for 2016 is to turn more supporters and followers into donors. It will be an important year for the project as we take this to the next level, so with that target in mind, we urge you to spread the word at every opportunity. Retweet us; share our posts; wear the Twibbon, talk about us to your friends and within the aviation community. Have you considered setting up a regular donation to the fund by way of a Standing Order? Our bank details are here and it’s simple enough to do. Every little will help, even if it’s only a few pounds a month (the price of a latte, or a pint of beer!) or the purchase of a couple of t-shirts or a DVD.
Easyfundraising is a great way to donate without it costing you a penny. Once you’ve signed up you will raise money for The People’s Mosquito every time you shop online, whatever you shop for, whether it’s holidays, clothes, food, office equipment or travel etc. There are around 3,000 participating online retailers including the likes of Amazon, Argos, John Lewis, Booking.com and Viking as well as many utility companies. It is the retailer that donates on your behalf – not you. So far we have raised over £500 through people shopping online and using this simple and easy service, but we know there is much more potential there for uptake. We urge you all to sign up for Easyfundraising as soon as possible.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that if (when) you donate to The People’s Mosquito please remember to Gift Aid your donation. This enables us to reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 donated, which increases your donation by 20% at no further cost to you. Please complete the simple online form here. And don’t forget every direct donation of £10 to our Wing Rib Campaign is automatically entered into our prize draw to win an exclusive Mosquito wood off-cut keyring (for rules our Donate page).
All in all, we think it’s been a good fourth year for the project and one that shows a continued growth in interest in the project and increased donations to the fund. But it’s now up to you, the Great British Public – we need to turn all that interest into donations!
As ever, our sincere gratitude goes to everyone who has donated, liked, followed, tweeted, posted, commented, visited, viewed, emailed or otherwise shown support for or interest in the project – not forgetting our band of airshow volunteers who helped us out so eagerly and keenly during the 2015 season – we would be nowhere without you all.
We hope you will all continue to support us into 2016 as we take the project forward.
Many thanks, and may we wish you all a Happy and Successful New Year.
The People’s Mosquito Team
(Just in case you missed it – our Donate page is here – thanks)