A chartered surveyor – and keen private pilot – has beat tough competition from all over the world to win an international flying competition.
Specialist town planner, Ian Butter FRICS of Rural and Urban Planning Consultancy in Blackpool won the overall first prize in the international Pooleys Dawn to Dusk Competition - a demanding flying challenge that requires a flight to take place over a minimum 8-hour period, based upon a personally selected theme.
As Chairman of his local RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) Lifeboat Station, and Deputy Launching Authority on the Blackpool crew, Ian chose to fly 1000 miles around the southern half of Britain landing at past and present Air Sea Rescue locations and overflying some 90 lifeboat stations. The aim of the journey was to pay tribute to the organisations that save lives at sea, and highlight the important role the RNLI plays in Air Sea Rescue.
With over 30 years' flying experience, Ian says this flight was by far his most challenging and dangerous given a third of the 12-hour journey was over water including the Bristol Channel, to and from the Scilly Isles, The Solent, the Thames Estuary and the Wash.
From my Lifeboat experience I know first-hand how cold shock and exposure can seriously reduce life expectancy, so I wore an immersion suit and life jacket throughout the flight. It proved rather clumsy to work with in the cockpit and made me extremely hot – a ‘boil in the bag pilot’ if you like - but it was the best precaution had I needed to ditch the aircraft.
Other challenges during the flight included proximity to, or crossing over 21 areas of danger, of which seven either required permission to cross or rerouting to avoid. Fatigue was also a concern as Ian flew solo and with no autopilot available in the aircraft, however, his carefully planned stops throughout the day helped keep Ian focussed.
Gaining accolades & recognition
Ian was recently presented with the overall first prize (The Duke of Edinburgh Trophy) and the Pooleys Sword for best flight log and report at a presentation dinner.
I had entered the competition as a 60th Birthday present to myself, so it was a welcome surprise to win, especially given the level of entries.
Many books and articles dedicated to recording the works of Air Sea Rescue organisations make no mention of the RNLI’s involvement whatsoever. But during my research for my flight challenge it became increasingly evident that, not only has the RNLI continued to deliver a long-standing rescue service for aircrews and passengers of aircrafts ditched at sea over the year, but it may have been instrumental in delivering the first purposeful Air Sea Rescue operation in the UK.
Therefore, I’m delighted that my flight achieved what it set out to, and that is to raise awareness of, and pay tribute to all the men and women at rescue organisations – including the RNLI - who consistently put their lives on the line every time they offer a life-saving service.
Read the next page in this section