A raft of aviation dignitaries gathered at the RAF Club in London last month to witness HRH The Duke of York present a number of awards to aviation professionals on behalf of the Royal Aero Club, which Prince Andrew is president of.
Some fifty awards were given to individuals and groups involved in a wide spectrum of aviation disciplines, too many to mention here. Concentrating on those involved specifically in flight training, a Bronze Medal of the Royal Aero Club was awarded to Jon Cooke. Having been flying since he was a teenager, Jon is an airline captain, local flying club instructor and examiner. He is also a founder member of the Light Aircraft Association’s coaching scheme, which aims to improve flight safety by enhancing the piloting skills of LAA members. The scheme offers a series of courses, or tailored instruction, by a number of highly skilled and experienced coaches, including Jon, who is chairman and head of training for the scheme. Jon recently renewed his accreditation as a Master Certified Flying Instructor, a rare achievement for any instructor and an indication of his exceptional skills.
Earning a Royal Aero Club Certificate of Merit were husband and wife team Gordon and Jill Douglas. The Douglas’ hold the distinction of running the largest and longest established microlight school in Scotland, East of Scotland Microlights. Operating for in excess of 25 years, the school is thriving, in a large part due to the drive and enthusiasm shown by Gordon and his wife. Outside of his instructional duties, Gordon also remains a keen competition pilot, having obtained two world speed records in 2013 in the two-seat microlight class.
Julian Scarfe, director of PPL-IR Europe and board director of Europe Air Sports, was awarded a Silver Medal of the Royal Aero Club, in recognition of his tireless work as a General Aviation campaigner both in the UK and Europe. A leading spokesperson for Europe Air Sports, Julian sits on a number of EASA committees and during 2014-2015 was a member of the UK Red Tape Challenge Panel, which provided invaluable assistance to the initiative which has bought about significant regulatory reductions in the flight training industry.
Five members of the LAA’s night IFR team were also recognised by the Royal Aero Club, winning a Certificate of Merit. Mike Andews, Mike Barnard, Steve Noujaim, Peter Pengilly and Nick Sibley have been leading an initiative to allow permit/orphaned aircraft to be permitted to be flown solely on instruments under IFR conditions and also at night. Having approached the CAA with the initiative they have been running trials and indications are that their work will lead to a removal of the current restrictions for permit aircraft.
While there were many other worthy recipients of awards, mention must be made of Paddy Elliott, who at the age of 91 was awarded the Cowburn & Kay Old & Bold Trophy. A fixture at Wellesbourne Aerodrome, where he gained his PPL in 1989, later adding IMC and Night ratings, Paddy has been an employee at South Warwickshire Flying School ever since, becoming a director of the school some 15 years ago, and who still proudly runs the operations desk five days a week.