AirLift! | Teamwork Training Activity

AirLift! is a very popular team training exercise which raises awareness on how to split jobs into mini-tasks, delegate the parts and ensure communication is maintained throughout. Ideal to quickly assess team problem-solving competencies - and a range of other team skills.

Learning Objectives

  • Stresses the need to break a task down into component parts
  • Tests whether teams can maximise their use of resources
  • Illustrates the need for a logical approach to problem-solving
  • Shows the need for team members to keep each other informed
  • Sharpens teamwork towards an objective and against a tight deadline

Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a licence for repeat use with up to 24 participants per training session within your organisation. Please ask for a discount for use with larger groups.

  • Participants

    For 3-24 (up to four teams of 3-6 per team)

  • Timing

    1 hour + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Yes - 1 PC required

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  • UK delivery

    (normally next working day)


  • Europe delivery

    (1-2 working days)


  • World delivery

    (1-5 working days)



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The Activity

In this hands-on training activity, teams must coordinate an airlift of tents, food and medicines, in various combinations and quantities, to eight isolated villages after a devastating earthquake. Special crates must be prepared, packed with the correct supplies (represented by coloured blocks), labelled – and loaded into the cargo hold.

If teams don’t match their chosen route with the order in which crates go in the hold, then supplies will be dropped to the wrong villages. The cargo hold is jam-packed so there’s only one way to pack it – and limited fuel prevents any re-routing of the flight! Having solved all aspects of this tough problem, teams fill in their pilot’s log and their solution is assessed. Computer program included but not essential – can be scored manually.

Trainer's Role

1. Divide the participants into teams.

2. Introduce the training activity using the PowerPoint presentation.

3. Issue the Team Briefs and other materials and allow teams 60 minutes to work on the task.

4. Collect in the Pilot’s Log from each team and issue short questionnaires for teams to review how they worked.

5. Lead a discussion on how teams tackled the problem and then issue the results followed by a Debrief on the key points and how the lessons can be transferred to the workplace.

Full details provided in the Trainer’s Notes.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Computer Program (optional / & Windows compatible only)
  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Team Briefs
  • Cargo Holds
  • Pilot’s Log Sheets
  • Wooden Blocks
  • Card, Scissors, Rulers, Sticky Tape

The exercise proved to be an excellent learning platform and one of the highlights of the course. We used 'AirLift!' on a leadership course with 32 participants aged 24-40. The exercise brought out very clearly the need for teamwork in setting objectives and controlling the work of a group. The greatest learning points were that any team needs to spend time planning a structured approach to a task and ensuring that everyone is totally clear on what has to be achieved.

E. Davidge, RAF

Used 'AirLift!' in a first line workshop with new managers, it provided an ideal exercise for reinforcing the messages of planning, time management and problem-solving. Great general exercise for reinforcing learning; very practical and hands on.

D. Harrowell, Buckinghamshire Hospital NHS Trust

We used 'AirLift!' as an exercise during a teambuilding course with engineers of mixed age and experience. The best learning points were to listen to the contribution of others; plan and assign roles.

Malcolm Archer, BAE Systems

We use 'AirLift!' frequently in a team-working context, on an 'Introducing Management' course, with a mixture of staff, including administrative and scientific roles (who are about to embark in a management role). The requirement for good planning comes through with it becoming apparent that a sensible order for the tasks exists. It’s an excellent activity - straightforward to administer, tests various management skills - and it's a good 'escape' from usual organisational contexts.

R. Foster, BBS Research Council

We used 'AirLift!' at our Leadership Event and the groups thoroughly enjoyed the activity. We're excited to use it going forward!

Kat Sandell, Virgin Australia

We used 'AirLift!' during an intern selection event. It was great fun and we will be using it again with our interns and apprentices.

Dawn Lansley, Talent & Performance Manager, Canon Europe Ltd

'AirLift!' went really well and provided for some great team bonding. One team got the perfect route and packed the crates perfectly. One team got the second best route but packed the cargo hold terribly and one team spent all their time doing the maths in intricate detail and they ran out of time to build the crates (and got the maths wrong!). A big success!

Richard Howle, Director of Ticketing, The Ticket Factory

'AirLift!' was the best part of the course! It’s a fantastic activity!

Jeremy Ambrose, Trainer, Royal Air Force

'AirLift!' is a great training tool! I’ve enjoyed using it for demonstrating teamwork and communication at various levels from apprentice to senior management.

John Burluraux, Training Manager, Huntsman Polyurethanes

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