EACH YEAR the world's most exciting and experienced pilots compete at the Royal International Air Tattoo, at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, with no fewer than eight awards being presented at the Sunday Night Hangar Party – the traditional end to the airshow.
Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, opened proceedings by thanking everyone for the contributions to RIAT 2009, before handing over to Nigel Wharmby of the Air Tattoo's Flying Control Committee to introduce the award ceremony.
This year the top award, the King Hussein Memorial Sword - presented in memory of the late HM King Hussein of Jordan, Patron of the International Air Tattoo (1983-1989) for the Best Overall Flying Demonstration - went to the Fleet Air Arm, for the sheer weight of effort and professionalism put in to their Balbo by the Merlins, the Black Cats, the FRA Falcons and Black Sea Hawks.
The sword was presented by HRH Prince Feisal of Jordan and received on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm by Lt Rich Liddle and Sub Lt J D Edwards from 845 Sqn Sea Kings.
Lt Liddle said: "It's fantastic, a surprise more than anything. Obviously we're very proud to win this award, especially in the year when we're celebrating 100 years of naval aviation."
For the second year running, The Paul Bowen Trophy - presented by ITL in memory of The Royal International Air Tattoo co-founder Paul Bowen for the Best Jet Demonstration – was won by Capt Thomas 'Pipo' Peier flying the F-18 Hornet of Fliegerstaffel 18, Swiss Air Force. That's the third year in a row that the Swiss Air Force has taken this award.
Air Tattoo Chief Executive Tim Prince presented the trophy, and Capt Peier was delighted to receive it. "I never thought I'd win this again," he said. "It's really a pleasure, especially as this is my last international meeting. After this I'll be stepping back and training someone else to take on the display pilot role, so it's great to take the trophy home for a second time."
The Sir Douglas Bader Trophy - presented by Shell UK for the Best Individual Flying Display – went to Capt Cedric Ruet flying the Dassault Rafale of Escadron de Chasse 1/7, French Air Force.
Alan Smith, Deputy Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, presented the trophy to Capt Ruet. The French pilot said: "I'm very pleased. This is the first year the Rafale has been to the Air Tattoo, and I hope to be back next year."
The Lockheed Martin Cannestra Trophy – presented by Lockheed Martin for the Best Flying Demonstration by an overseas participant - went to Maj Mohammad Quol, leader of the Royal Jordanian Falcons, and was presented by Gen Al Hansen, a Vice President of RIAT.
Maj Quol received the award on behalf of the Falcons and commented: "I'm really very proud to be part of this event, and very proud of my team. We're all very happy!"
The Steedman Display Sword - presented by The Royal International Air Tattoo in memory of the late Air Chief Marshal Sir Alasdair Steedman, Chairman of the International Air Tattoo (1981-1988), for the Best Flying Demonstration by a UK participant – was awarded to Sqn Ldr Scott Loughran, flying the Typhoon of 29 Sqn, RAF.
Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire presented the sword to the Typhoon pilot who said: "It's definitely a surprise to win, but I'm delighted. It's always great to get recognition for what we do, so I'm really pleased."
Three other awards, not judged by the Flying Control Committee, were also made:
The FRIAT Award (the As the Crow Flies Trophy), decided by the votes of FRIAT (Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo) members, went to Capt Cedric Ruet, flying the Dassault Rafale of Escadron de Chasse 1/7, French Air Force. It was presented by FRIAT member Mr Pete Dixon.
Fred Crawley, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, presented the second award of the evening to Capt Ruet who said: "It's a great pleasure to win two awards, one from the FCC and one from the audience, and I'm very proud of that."
The Best Livery award went to Lt Daniel Jordao and crew of 2/10 Aviation Group, Brazilian Air Force with their Casa C295M. Jon Windover from Jeppesen presented the award to Lt Jordao who said: "It's great, I wasn't expecting this! We're surprised and very very grateful."
The award for the Best Flying Helmet went to Maj Brian 'Bubba' Zoll, C-130H of the 317th Airlift Group, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. 'Bubba' said: "I started hand-painting my helmet three weeks ago, and was convinced that I'd be competing against professional painters so I'm delighted to win. I'm really glad!"