The British Air Display Association honoured outstanding figures from the airshow scene past and present with its end-of-season 2023 awards.
The BADA Trophy went to the Blades, a team that set the highest standards for 17 years before its recent disbandment. It made its public debut in 2006; thereafter, it flew at the majority of the major venues in the UK and abroad. During 2017, it won the World Formation Aerobatic Challenge in China. The Blades were an all-round major contributor to the whole display scene, and a wider pioneer in becoming the world’s first fully certified aerobatic airline. It’s estimated that the team displayed to some four million people a year, and in so doing it supported the Royal Air Forces Association and the RAF Benevolent Fund, as well as providing a platform for sponsors such as Barclays Commercial, Aerobytes and Yuasa. It was a very significant, irreplaceable and valuable contribution to the UK air display community that will be sorely missed. Team leader Andy Evans collected the award on behalf of his colleagues.
The recipient of the Miss Demeanour Trophy was Team Raven, a very popular act in the UK and Europe for several seasons, but which went above and beyond in 2022. It brought in extra pilots to create a six-ship of Vans RV-8s, including one at short notice when an original team member had to withdraw from the line-up, and made great efforts to keep to its commitments through the challenges of weather and other external factors. Notably, Team Raven stepped in at the last minute in September 2022 following the death of Queen Elizabeth II to display at Sanicole in Belgium, alongside Rich Goodwin, in place of a couple of other acts which had to withdraw.
A Lifetime Achievement Award went to Trevor Graham, who has served the UK display industry for more than 40 unbroken years through involvement at countless major events such as the Biggin Hill Air Fair, the Great Warbirds Air Display, the Fighter Meet at North Weald, Flying Legends at Duxford and many others. He has also been active in New Zealand. Apart from being a commentator, creative producer, technical communications director, flying control committee member, licenced radio operator, and tier 3 flying display director, Trevor has created several events himself, most recently at Weston-super-Mare, Old Sarum and then, in 2018, the Midlands Air Festival at Ragley Hall. He has been an ardent supporter of new display pilots, giving a number of them their first public displays as tyros, and has committed to encouraging new audiences to come to aviation events and help keep the industry alive.
The second Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Alan Smith, who has stepped down as chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises after nearly five decades supporting the Air Tattoo in a range of roles — sponsor, advisor, non-executive director, trustee and chair, all of them unpaid, and extremely demanding on his personal time. What the Royal International Air Tattoo is today is the result of his unselfish, insightful and resolute leadership. An inspiring figure throughout, Alan has motivated everyone with whom he has worked, and has given far more than he ever received.
David Cyster is the recipient of the third Lifetime Achievement Award. His 1978 Tiger Moth flight from England to Australia, carried out when he was still in the RAF, must count as one of the greatest adventures undertaken in an historic aeroplane, and his aerobatic displays in vintage biplanes have always set the highest standard. Recently, as a current member of the Tiger Nine team, he has flown at events around the UK, as well as displaying the Focke-Wulf Stieglitz and Klemm 25 belonging to Richard Menage.