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

Five-Year Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a five-year licence for repeat use with up to 24 participants per training session within the licence-holding organisation. Please ask for a discount for use with larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

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

  • Timing

    1 hour + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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Delivery charges apply per order (not per item).
Delivery charges do not apply to digital products.

Access for digital products is via the Northgate Trainerhub (we will set you up with hub access within 24 (working) hours of your order & our working hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm).

  • UK delivery

    (normally next working day)


  • Europe delivery

    (1-2 working days)


  • World delivery

    (1-5 working days)



We hope you that will be delighted with your purchase from Northgate Training. However, if you are unhappy for any reason, we operate a no-quibble returns policy on unused goods. Products should be returned within 30 days. The product(s) needs to be in perfect condition and in its undamaged, original packaging. We cannot refund or exchange anything that has been used. Return postage, packing insurance and direct costs cannot be refunded. Please keep proof of postage to facilitate claims should goods be lost in transit.


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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

  • Divide the participants into teams.
  • Introduce the activity using the PowerPoint presentation.
  • Issue the Team Briefs, Pilot's Log, Cargo hold, wood blocks and other resources.
  • Allow teams 60 minutes for the task.Observe teams in action but do not get involved in assisting them in the task.
  • After 60 minutes, collect a Pilot’s Log from each team and score their route. NOTE: you can do this using data in the Trainer's Notes or using the computer program option.
  • For all to see, for each team, check routes against the order of crates stored in the hold and the crate contents. Is it all viable?
  • Issue the short Questionnaire, designed to help teams review their performance.
  • Lead a debrief. Ask teams how they tackled the problem - then issue the results. Extract all the key lessons that emerged and discuss how they can be transferred back to the workplace (re communication, organisation, maximising resources and minimising waste, delegating according to skills and generally working together as a united team).

Full details provided in the Trainer’s Notes.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Computer Program (for optional use - internet access required)
  • Trainer's PowerPoint Presentation
  • Team Briefs & Map
  • Cargo Holds
  • Wooden Blocks
  • Resources (Card, Scissors, Rulers, Sticky Tape)
  • Pilot’s Log Sheets (PDF file)
  • Trainer's Routes Table (PDF file)
  • Team Questionnaire (PDF file)

This activity is for face-to-face classroom use. It is supplied as a hard copy pack and the digital files are supplied via the Northgate Trainerhub.

Northgate Trainerhub

Benefits of the online Northgate Trainerhub include:

  • Easy-to-access resource library which stores all the digital files for the activity in one place
  • Immediate access to upgrades made to the activity over the five-year licence term
  • Access to an online Trainer Forum where you can post questions, share experiences & network with other Trainers
  • Access to free activities and icebreakers
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

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

I have been using 'AirLift!' for 13 years and it always delivers so much learning through its immersive experience. Its design highlights the need for purpose, interdependence and trust, along with a flexible mission led execution. The tactile nature of the task elevates the level of engagement and, of course, ensures people really enjoy the experience. It is a first class experiential product.

Justin Featherstone MC, Consultant and Expedition Leader

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