The Australian Division of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and Australian Flying magazine are proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Wings Awards. The Wings Awards were inaugurated in 2014 to recognise the efforts of the many people who have dedicated their lives to general aviation, either through individual effort or as part of an aero club or flying school. It is passion that deserves to be acknowledged and sets a very good example for the general aviation community as a whole.
This year, the judging panel had to wade through a record number of initial nominations before calling for the full submissions. The work that had been put into the ultimately successful submissions showed the determination for passionate people to be recognised for their contributions, especially those nominated for the Col Pay Award.
RAeS and Australian Flying congratulates the winners and thanks them all for their contribution to general aviation in Australia.
Col Pay Award for a Lifetime of Service to General Aviation
2019 Winner – Senja Robey BEM
Senja Robey is an aviation pioneer, extraordinary flying instructor and an icon of Australian general aviation. She has been flying since 1949, when she did her ab-initio training on Tiger Moths at the Royal Aero Club of NSW. In the same year, Senja became a founding member of the Australian Women Pilots Association (AWPA) and continues to be a stalwart of that organisation today. Senja qualified for her CPL in 1953 and added an instructor rating in 1962. She developed a passion for teaching that has never left her. She later started her own charter and aerial photography company and was a partner, flying instructor and charter pilot in Robey Air and instructor with Phoenix Aero Club in Sydney. During her 52 years of instructing, Senja has mentored thousands of pilots during the important formative years of their careers. Senja was award the British Empire Medal (BEM) in 1976 and was inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame in 2014.
Flying Instructor of the Year
2019 Winner – David Pilkington
David Pilkington has had a long and storied career in general aviation such that his contribution is hard to measure, but it is as a flying instructor in the field of aerobatics that David has shone the brightest. He has mentored and launched hundreds of aerobatic careers and mentored some of Australia's best. He is widely recognised as Australia's foremost expert on the Decathlon series of aeroplane and takes the time to encourage and foster his students. David's voice is perhaps one of the most trusted in Australian aerobatic circles, which makes him invaluable to the pilots he takes under his wing. In a previous career "Pilko" was an aeronautical engineer who left his mark on iconic aeroplanes such as the GAF Nomad, Aviat Husky and Airbus A380. He truly is a treasure of general aviation.
Flying Training Organisation of the Year
2019 Winner – Tristar Aviation
Tristar Aviation has been operating out of Moorabbin since 1993. With their team of skilled aviators, they provide quality training that exceed clients’ expectations. Tristar's VET in schools programme involves students from more than 232 different schools across Victoria and is increasing every year. Tristar has also been with the Australian Air League for over 25 years, providing reduced-cost flight training and air experience flights. The Tristar team regularly attends the Moorabbin Airport Consultative Group meetings and participates regularly with the Regional Airspace and Procedures Advisory Committee (RAPAC). But it is in training that the organisation stands out. After 26 years, there probably aren’t many aviation roles in Australia that haven’t at some point been filled by a Tristar pilot.
Aero Club of the Year
2019 Winner – Coonabarabran Aero Club
Faced with the decision to pull up their socks or fold, Coonabarabran Aero Club (CAC) embarked on the mammoth task of revitalising their club and local interest in general aviation. Today this aero club, once threatened with extinction, has been transformed into a hub of activity with new, young members and regular GA flying training thanks to an inspired partnership between the CAC and the local high school. Forming a partnership with Bathurst-based Ward Air, the club brought GA training back to Coonabarabran. CAC now has half a dozen young members from the high school who are progressing towards RPL and have all soloed in the club's Piper Warrior in the past year. One of the local teachers also gained her RPL through CAC. New members have come from Dubbo, Coolah, Coonamble and Narrabri as people come to fly at CAC, and the club’s Warrior, which once flew around 50 hours per year, now has to be flown to Dubbo several times a year for 100-hourly maintenance – a delight for any aero club. The club's efforts in standing up and turning themselves around can stand as an example for many other aero clubs in Australia facing the same challenges.