…and the Historic Pilot Award goes to…

With a little subterfuge, I took great delight in inviting Adam Roberts, a good friend of the Historic Flight, to the annual symposium of the Historic Aircraft Association (HAA). It was supposedly for a side-bar meeting about an upcoming project (more on that later)… but little did he know that he would be awarded a trophy that day!

Part One – Colin Dodds

This story starts over 80 years ago on the 23rd November 1940… Colin Dodds was born into the world.

After a long flying career, Colin sadly died on the 18th September 2020. Following his death, his family donated a silver goblet trophy to the HAA in his memory as The Colin Dodds Young Historic Pilot Trophy.

Squadron Leader Colin Dodds was a member of the Historic Aircraft Association from its earliest formation and served for more than 3 decades. He was Deputy Chairman from 1995 until 2018 and was eventually appointed a Vice President in 2019. An ex-RAF pilot and Vulcan captain, Colin Dodds was very much a doyen of the historic aircraft world flying and displaying Tiger Moth, Dragon Rapide, Piston Provost, DH Dove and the North American Harvard. He was an Air Display Authorisation Evaluator, Display Safety Committee Chairman and an Air Display Director.

Colin was keen to encourage future generations of pilots in the historic aviation world, so it was a fitting tribute to him for his family to donate a silver goblet trophy to the HAA in his memory.

The inaugural Colin Dodds Young Historic Pilot Trophy would be awarded to the most-deserving young pilot flying historic aircraft types.

Part Two – Adam Roberts

Part two of this story starts much later in the 20th century… Adam Roberts was born into the world!

In his spare time, he flies a 1946 Aeronca from Andrews Field.

Over several years, Adam has been highly influential in The Air League, motivating younger folks to careers in aviation; he organised multiple “Wounded Warrior” events at Middle Wallop for injured veterans and their families to use aviation as a route to motivation and life beyond the challenges. Adam made sure to include historic military aircraft in the flying fleet at these events as a link between the wounded veteran’s past and an aviation future.

He has made significant contributions to the Historic Army Aircraft Flight at Middle Wallop, generating ideas and solutions for using the historic aircraft to motivate young learners and simultaneously educate them about historic aircraft. Most recently, his ideas on using the Beaver aeroplane as an airborne STEM laboratory for young people are coming to fruition. This will put historic aircraft in front of many young people as a formative experience in their early education.

Adam’s idea involves young people, typically 6th formers, joining us at Middle Wallop to conduct science experiments while airborne in the DHC-2 Beaver aeroplane! After a short physics lesson, three at a time will discover how a 1kg mass will double in weight while the aircraft turns at 60 degrees angle of bank… and how a balloon will expand while the aircraft climbs…

Boeing have kindly sponsored this awesome STEM activity and we look forward to our first students, turning Adam’s idea into reality.

And so, the inaugural Colin Dodds Memorial Trophy for Young Historic Pilot was awarded by Colin Dodds’ widow, Hillary, to Adam Roberts at the Historic Aircraft Association Symposium at the RAF Museum. Well done Adam!

Rich Pillans, Adam Roberts, Hillary Dodds, Sir Gerald Howarth, Wally Epton

Adam was dutifully surprised when his name was called out. There was much praise, some lovely photos and a delicious lunch.

Part Three – The HAA Symposium

Meanwhile, spread about the day, we enjoyed some delightful presentations, including Dodge Bailey’s talk on three 1934 air racers, Rob Tierney’s talk on liberating a Huey from the Falklands, a talk on the restoration of a Lancaster in East Kirkby (and a film about the aircraft), then finally Bob Tuxford’s delightful talk on the epic missions of Victor tankers.

It was also wonderful to also hear about the association’s plans to increase their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities, with a view to promoting the subject with the leverage and excitement that historic aircraft can bring.

Now I know you’re all desperate to hear what happened with the side-bar meeting I pretended Adam was invited to… well… we (the Historic Flight) do have a STEM liaison meeting in the pipeline with the HAA, just not during the symposium. The charity sector is best served by us all collaborating, so I look forward to our two organisations, with Adam Roberts’ help, sharing lessons and opportunities for the benefit of the nation and, in particular, for young people.

Photo Credit: Hillary Dodds, Adam Roberts, Danny Frampton, Historic Aircraft Association