RAPTOR PILOT Maj David 'Zeke' Skalicky emerged victorious from this year's Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, scooping no less than three of the airshow's seven prestigious flying awards.
The winners were announced at the traditional end to the event, the Sunday Night Hangar Party, when Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, opened proceedings by thanking everyone for their contributions to RIAT 2010. 'We asked you to perform to the best of your abilities,' he told the assembled pilots, aircrew and volunteers at the party. 'You did, and on behalf of the Trust we thank you for your efforts on our behalf. Well done!'
Air Cde Nigel Wharmby of the Air Tattoo's Flying Control Committee then made special mention of the magnificent effort shown by the disabled pilots of the Italian WeFly! Team before introducing 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 Maj Skalicky, flying the F-22 Raptor of the Raptor Demo Team, US Air Combat Command.
The sword was presented by Major General Malek Habashnah, Commander Royal Jordanian Air Force.
There was hardly time for the victor to have his photo taken before he was back on stage accepting The Paul Bowen Trophy - presented by ITL in memory of The Royal International Air Tattoo co-founder Paul Bowen for the Best Jet Demonstration. The trophy was presented by Cliff Waldwyn, Sales & Business Development for MBDA
Maj Skalicky was delighted to receive two awards, but keen to point out that teamwork was the key to the Raptor team's success. 'It's a great honour, I didn't expect or deserve this,' he said. 'My team really earned this, as they came through for me. I'm so thankful that I have a great team and a superb aircraft behind me.'
The Sir Douglas Bader Trophy - presented by Shell UK for the Best Individual Flying Display - went to Flt Lt Steve Kenworthy flying the Harrier GR9 of IV (R) Squadron, Royal Air Force.
Alan Smith, Deputy Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, presented the trophy to Flt Lt Kenworthy who said: 'This has been a terrific weekend and winning this award really puts the icing on the cake.'
Tim Prince, Chief Executive of RIAT, presented The Lockheed Martin Cannestra Trophy - awarded by Lockheed Martin for the Best Flying Demonstration by an overseas participant - to Commandant Michel 'Mitch' Beulen flying the F-16AM of 349 Squadron, Belgian Air Force.
Cdt Beulen commented: 'We put on two different shows as we had to fight the weather while staying close enough to the crowds, but we always try to put on a good show for the crowds.'
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 Flt Lt 'Wally' Walton and Sqn Ldr Dunc Mason flying the Typhoon/Spitfire Synchro Pair, Royal Air Force.
Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire presented the sword to Typhoon pilot Flt Lt Walton and engineer Dave Chaffin (Sqn Ldr Mason was unable to attend). Flt Lt Walton said: 'Flying the Typhoon is the easy bit: it's the Spitfire that really takes a lot of flying skills but it's great to be part of a winning combination.'
Two other awards, not judged by the Flying Control Committee, were also made:
Maj Skalicky picked up his third award of the night for his display in the F-22 Raptor, receiving The FRIAT Award (the As the Crow Flies Trophy), which is decided by the votes of FRIAT (Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo) members. It was presented by Fred Crawley, Chairman of the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises and of the Air Tattoo.
Maj Skalicky said: 'Winning the FRIAT Award makes it so special, being recognised by the people who support the event year after year. That makes it a very special honour.'
And finally, the Best Livery award went to Capt Torstein Eikenes, Capt Pal-Frode Larsen and Lt Erlend Stueland of 338 Squadron, Royal Norwegian Air Force with their F-16. Capt Eikenes received the award from Gardiner Porter, Senior Manager, Global Business Development for Jeppesen. The Norwegian pilot said: 'We were hosts of the Tiger meet and painted the F-16 black and white for that . . . and it feels so good to get such an achievement.'