Well de­served ac­co­lade

Pilot - - OCTOBER 2016 -

When you turn to ‘Pi­lot Notes’ you will find news edi­tor Mike Jer­ram’s pick of those re­ceiv­ing awards from the Hon­ourable Com­pany of Air Pilots (HCAP, formerly the Guild of Air Pilots and Nav­i­ga­tors). To any­one in­volved in the his­toric avi­a­tion world, re­spected war­bird and dis­play pi­lot Char­lie Brown will gen­uinely need no introduction — and all would ap­plaud him be­ing pre­sented with the Hanna Tro­phy for ‘an out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the art of dis­play fly­ing of his­toric, vin­tage or mod­ern fighter or com­bat air­craft’.

US pi­lot ‘Hoot’ Gib­son re­ceives the Com­pany’s Award of Hon­our for an out­stand­ing avi­a­tion ca­reer, en­com­pass­ing com­bat fly­ing in Viet­nam, serv­ing as a US Navy test pi­lot and fly­ing five mis­sions on the Space Shut­tle be­fore leav­ing NASA to fly air­lin­ers — oh, and he was Unlimited Champion at last year’s Reno air races.

As we have re­ported on www.pi­lotweb.aero — the place to go for all the lat­est avi­a­tion news — a cur­rent astro­naut (and a Bri­tish one, at that) Tim Peake is to be pre­sented with HCAP’S Mas­ter’s Medal. Not much call for his pi­lot­ing abil­i­ties on the Space Sta­tion mis­sion – these days it is of course served by Soyuz cap­sules and not space planes – but Tim too has had a great ca­reer in avi­a­tion and is a pi­lot we all re­spect.

Which brings us to the other 2016 re­cip­i­ent of an HCAP Mas­ter’s Medal; Tracey Cur­tis-tay­lor. A fu­ri­ous and en­trenched de­bate has been run­ning on the avi­a­tion fo­rums about the mer­its or oth­er­wise of her flights re­trac­ing the steps of pi­o­neer­ing fe­male avi­a­tors Lady Mary Heath and, lat­terly Amy John­son. In Pi­lot’s view (the edi­to­rial team is in one mind about this) Tracey’s fly­ing is of the re­al­ity TV kind, with the stress on the TV per­for­mance bit and rather less on the re­al­ity. None of us finds much to ad­mire in pre­tend ‘solo’ flights, with GPS guid­ance and sup­port­ing air­craft fol­low­ing all the way.

The Hon­ourable Com­pany no doubt hopes to dodge the flak that fol­lowed ear­lier awards to Tracey for her sup­posed pi­lot­ing and nav­i­ga­tional abil­i­ties by pre­sent­ing the new one merely for ‘or­gan­is­ing’ the Amy John­son trib­ute flight. HCAP’S ci­ta­tion (not re­leased with its award PR ma­te­rial nor found read­ily on its web­site, it must be said) cred­its Tracey with ‘rais­ing aware­ness of science and tech­nol­ogy in gen­eral, and avi­a­tion in par­tic­u­lar, amongst young women across the world’ through her fly­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

While it would be mean-spir­ited to try to deny that she and her spon­sors have done a lot for rais­ing aware­ness of avi­a­tion — in­deed one of them, Boe­ing is both creat­ing aerospace jobs in the UK and sup­port­ing ini­tia­tives to get young peo­ple of ei­ther sex fly­ing (see ‘Notes’ p.15) — it is the ab­sence of any true fly­ing achieve­ment that has us shak­ing our heads.

No such doubts about pu­ta­tive earth-rounder Colin Hales, who has re­sumed the jour­ney, de­part­ing from Alaska and now head­ing across Rus­sia to China in his diminu­tive, self-built KR2 (see news story and link on www.pi­lotweb.aero and Colin’s first-hand ‘Fly­ing Ad­ven­ture’ ac­count of the jour­ney so far, also avail­able on­line). Colin has no back­ers and no sup­port air­craft shad­ow­ing him – his is a 2016 pi­lot­ing chal­lenge much closer to those of the 1930s. He is very brave and prob­a­bly just a lit­tle mad to at­tempt it. Again, the edi­to­rial team is in one mind about this – Colin; Pi­lot salutes you! Philip White­man, Edi­tor

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