Achievements in ballooning, increasing the safety of escape and survival from helicopters ditching in water and the design and development of autogyros were among the aviation accomplishments of 1998-9 honoured by the UK's Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators (GAPAN) at its annual awards presentation on 27 October at London's Guildhall. His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was guest of honour at the event, attended by nearly 700 aviation professionals.

Winners of the Master's Medal for an outstanding feat of aviation were Brian Jones and Dr Bertrand Piccard, who spent 477h 55min in their Cameron Balloons-built Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon, to set records for distance travelled, flight duration and the fastest time around the world non-stop, without refuelling, in a hot air balloon.

The Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award was presented to the Crew of Careflight Bell 412 Helicopter for their "total lack of consideration for their own safety" in rescuing yachtsmen competing in the Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race after savage weather caused their boat to roll over twice and led to the deaths of two yacht crewmembers. Capt Daniel Tyler, Graeme Fromberg and Paramedic Station Officer Murray Traynor conducted the operation to winch the survivors to safety amid winds exceeding 70kt (130km/h) and sea swell of over 10m (30ft).

Other honours included:

• the Hugh Gordon-Burge Award to the Royal Air Force's Flt Lt Geoffrey Sheppard and Flt Lt Ian Brosch for the safe landing of a British Aerospace Hawk jet after engine failure off the Norwegian coast in poor weather. The crew had to glide for 65km (40 miles) over the sea to land without navigational instruments and land 15m (50ft) short of a flooded coastal runway without a barrier before the sea;

• the Master's Commendation, awarded to RAF Wg Cdr Simon Meade for his leadership of the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team;

• the Johnston Memorial Trophy to Australian-born Jon Johanson for breaking world records in solo long-distance flights in an aircraft he designed;

• the Sir James Martin Award to Dr Christopher Brooks, for his pioneering research and design work on training and equipment for underwater escape and survival from helicopters ditching in water;

• the Brackley Memorial Trophy to Capt Neville Hay, a key player in the operational development of the Future Air Navigation System and its implementation on Air New Zealand Boeing 747s;

• the Cumberbatch Trophy to John Thorpe for services to the improvement of flight safety, especially in general aviation;

• the Sir Barnes Wallis Medal to RAF Wg Cdr Kenneth Wallis for his 50-year long contribution to aviation including his pioneering autogyro development work, which most famously included the "Little Nelly" vehicle in the James Bond film "You Only Live Twice".

A total of 32 trophies, awards and scholarships was presented.

Source: Flight International