The Master's Medal
Awarded to any person in aviation, at any time, for an act or other achievement in aviation considered worthy of the Medal, as soon as the facts of the event are clear. This is intended to be an immediate award, made at the discretion of the Master and on the advice of the Trophies and Awards Committee.
2012 Awarded to: David "Wheely Dave" Sykes
In 1993 David Sykes, then a car mechanic, was paralysed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident overtaking a car which turned right at the fatal moment. There was no question who was responsible. Condemned to a wheelchair for life, by the end of that decade he had tried parachuting, but thought it too dangerous after breaking a leg. He took up microlighting in 2000, and conceived the ambition to fly a flexwing around the world. Charming and determined, but unknown and severely dyslexic, he could raise no sponsorship at all.
On April 28, 2011 (the day before the Royal Wedding, so no PR skills, then), leaving Rufforth in Yorkshire, he set out on the classic England – Australia flight, relying on donations to fund his flight, with no one to help him de-rig each day.
Lauded or disrespected wherever he flew, his route was across France, Italy, then via Greece to Cyprus, Egypt, Saudi and Abu Dhabi to Muscat, across Pakistan and India and through Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia to Australia. His account of the terrible conditions – in high summer! – through which he flew is harrowing, yet humorous; almost every day ended with ‘went for a beer’. In his 124-day flight, he was held up for 21 days in obscure parts of Burma, mainly by atrocious weather, living hand to mouth, and it is obvious in reading his account there were many days where he could easily have been killed. Yet he persisted – in tough moments he thought of England – and even though violent winds wrecked his aircraft on Timor, one day’s flying from Australia, he re-built and flew on to make a lonely journey across Australia’s Outback to Sydney.
He has produced a book called 'On a Wing and a Chair' and all the real old-fashioned pilots in the aviation community should commend a fellow-flyer and hero. For his brave and brilliant solo microlight flight from England to Australia, despite having no sponsor, and no carer, David Sykes, known as ‘Wheely Dave’, is awarded the Master’s Medal.
Previous Award Winners:
1976 F A Laker Esq
1977 The Red Arrows
1978-85 Not Awarded
1986 PO ACMN L Slater
1987 R Branson Esq and Per Lindstrand
1988 Captain S Yousif
1989 FO A Atchison
1990 Miss H Sharman
1991 Not Awarded
1992 Not Awarded
1993 Captain E J Wyer
1994 Not Awarded
1995 Air Commodore A N Nicholson OBE QHS RAF
1996 Not Awarded
1997 Not Awarded
1998 Not awarded
1999 Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard
2000 Polly Vacher
2001 Caroline Gough-Cooper and Imogen Asker
2002 Not Awarded
2003 David K Hempleman-Adams OBE
2004 HMS ENDURANCE
2005 Not Awarded
2006 CREW OF 7 FLIGHT ARMY AIR CORPS, Warrant Officer Class 1 Challis (Aircraft Commander), Sergeant Khanlarian and Corporal Leah
2007 APACHE PATROL MEMBERS OF 656 SQUADRON AAC, Petty Officer Aircrewman James O'Donnell QGM
2008 Not Awarded
2009 The Crew of US Airways Flight 1549
2009 Captain Charles "Chalkie" Stobbart
2010 Captain Michael Fairhurst and First Officer James Brown
2010 Captain Stephen Noujaim
2011 Lieutenant Commander William Strickland USCG
2012 David "Wheely Dave" Sykes