The Honourable Company of Air Pilots incorporating Air Navigators

The Master's Medal

Awarded to any person in aviation, at any time, for an act or other achievement in aviation considered worthy of the Medal, as soon as the facts of the event are clear.  This is intended to be an immediate award, made at the discretion of the Master. It is done so on the advice of the Trophies and Awards Committee, after careful consideration and due diligence.

(amended Terms of Reference 2019)

2019 Awarded three times:  Winchman Paramedic Carlton Real, Wing Commander Rob Caine MBE MA RAF and James Ketchall


James Ketchall, 37, is an adventurer and UK Scouting Ambassador.  One of his principal ambitions is to inspire the youth of the world to look up from their phones and seek003 James Ketchall adventure.  He supports several youth-oriented charities.  In the past he has rowed the Atlantic Ocean solo (2010), summited Everest (2011) and cycled around the world unsupported (2013).

His latest exploit, to circumnavigate the world in a Magni M16 Gyrocopter, unsupported, commenced on 31 March and concluded on 22 September.  One of the aims of his trip was to visit a school in every country he landed in and to visit each contiguous state of the USA –which he achieved.

Departure and arrival was at Popham airfield, his local club.  Whilst the aircraft had two seats the rear seat was occupied by luggage, fuel and spare parts.  He had no support crew save those back at base in UK, using local agencies for assistance.  Having covered 37,000km and with no breaks apart from those forced by weather and rest, he is challenging for the world record for his attempt.

James' first experience of14 James Ketchall Masters Medal aviation was when he flew an autogyro in November 2016 as an experience flight at Popham. With the round the world flight in his mind as the motivator to learn to fly, he commenced his flight training with Gyrocopter Experience and instructor Steve Boxall in July 2017, doing most of his training at Popham with some at Chilton Park when his instructor was not available. His gained his first flying licence of any sort in October 2017.

His Magni M16, with which he was going to undertake the flight, arrived in August 2018 to allow him to build further experience for the expedition. The original planned start date was October 2018, but various factors postponed this to March 2019.  Although he also trained on fixed wing at Wellesborne in 2018 to get his NPPL, James only had 215 hours in total when he set out on the round the world flight.

For his epic solo achievement, and inspirational promotion of aviation to young individuals around the world, James Ketchall is a deserving recipient of the Master’s Medal.



003 Wg Cdr Rob CaineNo IV AC (Reserve) Squadron is based at RAF Valley and equipped with the BAe Hawk T2. The squadron’s role is to complete the training of fast jet RAF, RN and overseas students and prepare them for further training as single seat fighter pilots on operational fighters. For RAF and RN students these will mainly be the Typhoon and to a lesser degree the F35B Lightning. The squadron is commanded by Wing Commander Rob Caine, a Qualified Weapons Instructor with a background in the Tornado force. On taking over the squadron Wg Cdr Caine identified a significant training capability gap between the output standard from Valley and the requirements of the Operational Conversion Units (OCU). The older style of fast jet flying training, using the analogue Tucano and Hawk T1, had resulted in students struggling at the Typhoon OCU. It was taking some 12 to 16 months to bring students up to graduation standard.  Additionally, due to contractual difficulties, aircraft availability at Valley was poor which resulted in a much slower throughput than that needed to support the OCUs.

Wg Cdr Caine’s aim was to deliver world leading fighter pilots when the front line wanted and needed them and to make 4 FTS the ‘Oxford or Cambridge of fighter pilot training.’ Wg Cdr Caine soon realised that producing pilots fit for fifth generation fighters required a much more cerebral approach to instructing compared to the past. He introduced increased use of psychometric exercises and the psychology of learning and established contact with the Elite Performance School at nearby Bangor University, 14 Wg Cdr Robert Caine Masters Medalwhose recent clients included the English Cricket team, the British Lions and Team Sky. The Hawk T2’s cockpit replicates that of the Typhoon’s, allowing the student to become immersed in a simulated war scenario in the cockpit, whether in a part task trainer, the simulator or when actually airborne. As a consequence of Wg Cdr Caine’s enthusiastic application of the new technology offered by the Hawk T2’s cockpit and embedded software, by the end of the IV Squadron element of the course students are now capable of detecting and engaging modern sophisticated airborne threats, and carrying out Close Air Support and Air Interdiction missions using a range of modern weapons and systems in virtual reality equivalent to those used in real life by Typhoon and F35 Lightning, a capability never capable of being achieved on the legacy training syllabus. As a consequence of the student’s now total familiarity with the procedures and actions required using a modern fighter’s systems in air combat, this phase on the Typhoon OCU has been reduced to a single sortie, thereby generating considerable savings in cost, time and effort. Great emphasis has also been placed on the use of new technology to enhance sortie debriefing and recording; Wg Cdr Caine co-authored the debriefing software of the system that displays the flight activity in a variety of impressive visual formats. Everything that happened is now capable of being reproduced in a myriad of views with total accuracy on the ground after flight, with no need to attempt to recall a pilot’s sometime hazy recollection of what he thought had happened in the high workload environment of air combat. Students are able to replay what happened in the air as many times as they wish, thereby drawing valuable lessons from every sortie flown. The course failure rate has also dropped to around 10% from a previously much higher figure. 

Despite facing considerable challenges, both in terms of aircraft availability, increasing student numbers and the introduction of new untried aircraft systems, Wg Cdr Caine has devised and implemented a world leading, pioneering training system that makes full use of new techniques and technologies. This has enabled a much easier transition to the much more costly OCUs and has attracted attention from many overseas air forces. Wg Cdr Caine, leading IV AC (Reserve) Squadron with enthusiasm, is a thoroughly deserving recipient of the Master’s Medal for his outstanding work in the development of advanced fast jet flying training.



14 Carlton Real Masters MedalAt 0318 Rescue 924 was tasked, at the request of Falmouth Coastguard, to evacuate the crew of ‘FV La Fanette’ which was now 7 nm west of Sennen. The vessel was drifting having lost power and was estimated to be on the rocks within 3 hours. Rescue 924 launched at 0335 and routed direct to the scene, arriving 22 minutes later. Gale Gareth was transiting the South West meaning that Rescue 924 was encountering gale force 9 winds of 41-47 knots with gusts up to 60 knots. A sea state 8 with 7 metres high waves was lashing the coastline off Lands’ End.

As the aircraft approached the stricken trawler in the dark the picture through the FLIR camera showed the vessel intermittently disappearing in the huge swell with just the top of the main mast visible as it dipped into the 20-foot waves. The fishing boat had dropped its trawling gear to slow the drift, however it was pitching and rolling unpredictably and laying beam on to the wind. As the trawler was unable to manoeuvre to provide an ideal wind for winching the crew of Rescue 924 had to work with what was presented to them. The vessel was approximately 25m in length, and the stern was unsuitable for any winch transfer as it was cluttered with nets and trawling gear. The crew tried various positions around the deck for 30 to 40 minutes in order to ascertain the available options for conducting a transfer and to work out the optimum orientation to carry out a winch.

It quickly became evident that the only feasible winching location was the bow but even this was partially compromised by a crane on the starboard side. Most of the flying had to be conducted manually as the automatics constantly dropped out due to the strength of the wind and turbulence.  Having explored a number of orientations, the very tip of the bow was selected, which provided the pilot with the best visual references and a safe approach angle. This required the aircraft to be hovered 90 degrees out of wind, effectively flying sideways to maintain formation with the bow/transfer area. In this position, the aircraft sat at approximately 15 degrees right wing low with the cyclic at nearly full right displacement in order to maintain a stable hover. With limited cyclic control available, several dummy approaches were conducted and after a dynamic risk assessment, the whole crew were satisfied that it was safe to go live.

The six crew members of the ‘FV La Fanette’ were grouped near the bow ready for evacuation, dressed in immersion suits and wearing life jackets, each carrying a bag of personal affects. The aircraft was manoeuvred over the vessel to deploy a hi-line and then the winchman, Carlton Real, to the deck to supervise the winching. The winchman informed the crew that due to the extreme conditions no bags would be taken into the aircraft. He explained that to expedite the evolution, two crewmembers would be winched together requiring only three lifts. He elected to remain on deck until all six crew had been rescued. With the vessel pitching and rollin003 Carlton Realg violently the winchman calmly briefed the crew on the requirements of tending the hi-line and readied them for winching. Throughout, the aircraft remained in a low hover just off the bow with a hi-line attached and was manoeuvred a total of seven times in this configuration with a calm reassuring con from the Winch Operator.  On the last lift, the hi-line parted due to the conditions and a second hi-line was utilised to recover the winchman. With all crew on board, Rescue 924 returned to Newquay to be met by Newquay CRT.

This rescue was conducted at night, in atrocious weather and sea conditions off Lands’ End with the added pressure that the vessel was slowly drifting towards rocks where it would have been wrecked in a few hours. Although the crew of the ‘FV La Fanette’ were wearing immersion suits and life jackets, if they had entered the water, their chances of survival in the raging sea would have been very slim. The rescue was dynamic, in appalling conditions but from commencement of the winching it took less than 20 minutes to recover all six crew and winchman to the aircraft. This rescue stretched the capabilities of the crew and the aircraft; however, the winchman voluntarily put himself in danger by remaining onboard the vessel throughout the winching operation.  It is this exceptional devotion to duty and disregard for personal safety for which Winchman/Paramedic Carlton Real is awarded the Master’s Medal.


Previous Award Winners:

The Guild Medal

1976 F A Laker Esq

1977 Captain J Schuman (posthumously) and Herr J Veito
         Lufthansa Flight 181

        The Royal Air Force Red Arrow Aerobatic Team

The Master's Medal

1985 Captain John Testrake

1986 PO ACMN L Slater

1987 R Branson Esq and Per Lindstrand

1988 Captain S Yousif

1989  Not Awarded

1990 FO A Atchison

1991 Miss H Sharman

1992 Not Awarded

1993 Captain E J Wyer

1994 Not Awarded

1995 Air Commodore A N Nicholson OBE QHS RAF

1996 - 1998 Not Awarded

1999 Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard of the Breitling Orbiter 3

2000   Not Awarded

2001 Polly Vacher

2002 Caroline Gough-Cooper and Imogen Asker 

2003 David K Hempleman-Adams OBE


2005 Not Awarded

2006 CREW OF 7 FLIGHT ARMY AIR CORPS, Warrant Officer Class 1 Challis (Aircraft Commander), Sergeant Khanlarian and Corporal Leah

2007 Apache Patrol Members of 656 Sqn AAC

        Petty Officer Aircrewman James O'Donnell QGM

2008 Not Awarded

2009 The Crew of US Airways Flight 1549

        Captain Charles "Chalkie" Stobbart

2010 Captain Michael Fairhurst and First Officer James Brown

        Captain Stephen Noujaim

2011 Lieutenant Commander William Strickland USCG

2012 David "Wheely Dave" Sykes

2013 Lieutenant Commander Vincent Jansen USCG

        Sergeant Rachael Robinson QGM

2014  Not Awarded

2015  Solar Impulse - Dr Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg

2016  Tracey Curtis-Taylor

         Timothy Peake CMG BSc(Hons)

2017  Flight Sergeant Mike Rowlands

         Commander Matthew Grindon RN

2018  Not Awarded

2019  Winchaman Paramedic Carlton Real

        Wing Commander Rob Caine MBE MA RAF

        James Ketchall