Battle of Britain Theme Triumphs
Published: 21 Jul 2015
The Battle of Britain featured at last night's awards ceremony at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, with two of the coveted prizes going to air displays commemorating our Second World War heritage.
With the Air Tattoo staging a commemorative flypast and salute to 'The Few', it was fitting that the 75th anniversary of the conflict should be remembered at Sunday Night's Hangar Party, the traditional finale to the event.
The ceremony was introduced by Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust and President of RIAT, who said: "This has been one of our greatest shows ever. There's been a tremendous response from the public, and fantastic displays which have wowed the crowds: thank you to all who contributed."
The presentations kicked off with an impromptu award by Andy Armstrong, Chief Executive of the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises and Director of RIAT, who presented his own RIAT CEO Award - six bottles of champagne - to the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment Tornados from the RAF, and the German and Italian Air Forces.
The Paul Bowen Trophy - presented in memory of the Royal International Air Tattoo co-founder Paul Bowen for the Best Solo Jet Demonstration - went to the Finnish F-18 flown by Capt Ville Uggeldahl. The trophy was presented by Andy Armstrong.
Capt Uggeldahl said: "We have not performed at the Air Tattoo since 2009, so to take this award home is absolutely a great honour. We were up against some impressive performers this year, so this is a great surprise."
The Sir Douglas Bader Trophy - presented for the Best Individual Flying Display - went to the German Bolkow Bo105 helicopter. Alan Smith, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, presented the trophy to Capt Torsten Mobius who said: "I'm very surprised. It's the first time I've been to Fairford and to win this trophy is just great."
Wg Cdr Jonathan Nixon, chairman of the Flying Control Committee, presented The Cannestra Trophy for the Best Flying Demonstration by an overseas participant. The trophy went to the Slovenian Pilatus PC9 trainer, flown by display pilot 1st Lt Andrej Fiorell. He said: "I am very proud to have won this award. When you consider all the fighter jets displayed by other countries it's wonderful to take this award home to Slovenia."
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 the Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon and Spitfire Synchro Pair.
Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson presented the sword to Typhoon pilot Flt Lt Ben Westoby-Brooks, who said: "I'm honoured to receive such an award. We wanted to do something special this year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and I'm so glad that we've had such a great reaction from all who've seen the display, and that we've been able to tell the story of 'The Few' who gave their all in the summer of 1940. We're doing it for them and for their memory."
Spitfire pilot Flt Lt Antony Parkinson MBE was unable to attend the ceremony, and was represented by Flt Lt Nige Parker of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The As the Crow Flies Trophy, awarded for the best overall flying demonstration as voted for by the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo, was presented by Jim Glover, Non-Executive Director of the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises. The award went to the Vulcan To The Skies Trust, a fitting tribute to Vulcan XH558 in its final display season.
Vulcan pilot Martin Withers said: "I'm proud to receive this on behalf of the whole team. What's happened with the Vulcan over the years has been a tremendous experience, and we really appreciate this recognition of the effort that's gone into it. We're delighted to receive this for XH558's last display at RIAT, and we will treasure it."
The Best Livery award, for the aircraft with the best special paint scheme, went to the Hellenic Air Force Zeus Demo Team. Andy Armstrong presented the award to demo pilot Maj Sotiris Stralis who said: "It has been a pleasure for the Hellenic Air Force display team 'Zeus' to participate for the first time at RIAT 2015, and a true honour to be awarded the best painted aircraft trophy. See you next year!"
Finally, 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 Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary Flypast, led by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The sword was presented by Commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, Major General Mansour Al Jobour.
The flypast involved private owners as well as pilots from the military, and they were all recognized. Brian Smith of the Old Flying Machine Company was flying one of the oldest Spitfires in the flypast - MH434. He said: "It is the first time, that civilian and military warbirds were meshed together to perform, and everybody pulled together to produce a magnificent spectacle."