It was a case of 'all the fun of the fair' when the aviation industry assembled en masse for the sixth Flight International Aerospace Industry Awards on Monday evening.

The venue was Le Musée des Arts Forains - the world's largest collection of historical fairground equipment - which is located in a series of 19th century wine warehouses in the Parisian suburb of Bercy.

Hosted by Flight International editor Carol Reed, the audience listened attentively as the awards in 10 categories were announced by Michael Rodd, the well-known British TV presenter who fronted the science-based BBC-TV programme Tomorrow's World for many years.

Guest of honour was Jean Pierson, the former chief executive of Airbus Industrie.

Serenaded by a gypsy flamenco band, the 600 guests had time to experience many of the working fairground rides during the cocktail reception, where they were also entertained by sundry jugglers, acrobats, tumblers, stilt walkers and a barrel organist.

The dinner and awards ceremony was held in the extraordinary Salon de Musique.

There, fairground organs and an enormous set of tubular bells heralded each award, even chiming-out 'Happy Birthday Mr. President' for Air Transport category joint winner and birthday-boy Norman Barber of Smiths Industries Aerospace.

General consensus seemed to be that the uniqueness of the venue was the icing on the cake of this prestigious awards ceremony.

And once the formal part of the evening was complete, hosts and guests alike had until midnight to experience some more of the thrills and spills associated with late 19th and early 20th century fairground rides, including an operational bicycle-based merry-go-round.

This hugely energetic machine once gave Victorian revellers the thrill of pedalling themselves at a heady 15mph in the days long before the Wright brothers made their living as push-bike mechanics... but it proved equally popular for awards dinner guests.

Source: Flight Daily News