Aviators recognised in annual Honourable Company of Air Pilots Trophies and Awards

21st September 2022
Sheryl Miles

The leadership, technical ability, and flying skill of a leading test pilot have been recognised by the Honourable Company of Air Pilots as being fundamental to the success of Rolls-Royce’s record breaking electric Accel flight, which propelled the futuristic aircraft into the history books.

Project test pilot, Phill O’Dell, is among the recipients of the annual ‘Trophies and Awards’ presented by the Air Pilots, which cited his vision and determination as being integral to the success of the programme; a record attempt extracting maximum performance from a challenging aircraft in a demanding environment.

Every flight of Accel (Acceleration of Electric aerospace) was considered high-risk due its limited endurance, limited stability, high control forces and a poor view from the cockpit.

Always leading by example, former RAF pilot O’Dell built a high-performance test team that managed to balance the boldness required for technological advance without ever compromising on safety. For this, he is awarded the Derry and Richards Memorial Medal for his outstanding achievement in advancing the art and science of aviation.

O’Dell is joined by Steve Jones, a retired British Airways Captain, former Red Bull Air Race pilot and Race Director and warbird display pilot. Jones is awarded Myles Bickerton Trophy for outstanding flying achievement in General Aviation for his own role in developing the Accel aircraft. Over four years, he was instrumental in the cockpit Human, Machine Interface design as well as ground testing, working alongside O’Dell, and flew the aircraft several times.

The Air Pilots’ Trophies and Awards are among the industry’s most prestigious because recipients are selected by their peers, who have decades of experience in military and civil aviation around the world. The awards are traditionally presented at London’s Guildhall on the last Thursday of October.

The courage, leadership, and airmanship of RAF airlift pilot Squadron Leader Mark Parker during the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 have also been recognised with the Air Pilots’ Grand Master’s Award. Operation Pitting represented the largest UK military evacuation since the Second World War. Squadron Leader Parker led Number LXX Squadron’s detachment, which had been expected to take place in benign conditions but led to overrunning of Kabul Airport after the swift collapse of the Afghan regime.

Having been forced to hold off from landing due to an abandoned aircraft in flames blocking the runway and aborting one landing attempt, Parker demonstrated extraordinary flying skill in landing on minimal fuel in extremely challenging conditions – including incoming Taliban fire – to deliver critical troops onto the ground. He then safely recovered the aircraft and his crew back to Dubai ready for another mission.

Under intense operational and emotional pressure, Parker showed unwavering courage under fire, using exceptional airmanship and flying skill to successfully achieve his recuse mission while safeguarding both passengers and crew.

Another award recognising an outstanding contribution – this time for the art of display flying of historic, vintage, or modern fighter aircraft – goes to Stuart Goldspink. A third-generation aviator and commercial pilot, Goldspink has five decades of experience in the cockpit, flying a range of aircraft and demonstrating an incredible passion for flying and displaying.

This enthusiasm and generous manner have cemented Goldspink as an important crew member with a number of the biggest and most reputable vintage aircraft operators in Europe. For this, Goldspink is awarded the Hanna Trophy, named for legendary display pilot Ray Hanna.

This year’s Sword of Honour – which recognises an outstanding contribution to General Aviation – goes to Robert Pooley, who has been totally involved in the field for some 60 years.

After service in the RAF, Pooley established what is no known as the Pooley’s Flight Guides, which is today published as both a printed guide and in electronic formats.

Pooley was also instrumental in establishing the Air Pilots’ flying scholarships for young people to allow them to learn to fly, which he paid for himself in the early years. His generosity within the aviation community has been a lifelong commitment and he is a role model for liverymen, aviators, and businesspeople of the City of London.

The Pike Trophy, which is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to civil flying instruction, goes to Anthony Mollison, who is known throughout the industry for his standards and individual care for each student, as well as his devotion to quality for more than 30 years. During that time, he has flown more than 11,500 hours in light aircraft – virtually all instructing and examining.

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