The Honourable Company of Air Pilots incorporating Air Navigators

The Sir Barnes Wallis Medal

Awarded in recognition of an exceptional and innovative contribution to aviation.


2018 awarded to:  Air Vice-Marshal Simon "Rocky" Rochelle OBE DFC RAF


In March 2017, AVM Simon ‘Rocky’ Rochelle initiated a paradigm shift in the application of air and space power. Seizing the initiative within Departmental underspend, Barnes Wallis Rochelledemonstrating ambition to begin a narrative that would continue through our next 100 years, and evidencing a peerless innovative approach, Rocky placed onto contract an earth observation small-satellite in one week. Some 8 short months later, the small-satellite was launched into low earth orbit and is now transmitting full motion video (a technical first) and colour imagery. In delivering what is now known as ‘Project Primus’, Rocky has transformed the Ministry of Defence’s space capability and standing across the space community.

Rocky’s innovative approach has been underpinned by unmatched energy, a willingness to take risk, empower subordinates, and an advocacy for disruptive thinking. Rocky’s vision to energise the RAF’s space ambition has inspired colleagues, industrialists and international partners and has necessitated Ministerial engagement, international stakeholder management, and the mentoring of Defence’s emerging space cadre.

Evidencing an altogether exceptional contribution to Air Power, and despite responsibility for a substantial portfolio, Rocky has successfully positioned Air as the 4* lead for space governance and himself as Senior Responsible Officer for the space capability. In doing so, he has developed a broad international stakeholder network, established Space-related Programme Boards and securing resources that will ensure this capability endures. Thinking wider, Rocky linked project PRIMUS with the requirement for an Enhanced Space Operation’s Centre.

Whilst ‘Project Primus’ was initiated to design, develop, deliver and operate a future warfighting constellation of small-satellites, the enhanced operations centre will fuse data from multiple sources and delivers warnings, forecasts and analysis to a variety of customers across Defence and other Government Departments. Under Rocky’s leadership, the space operations centre will become essential as Air Command moves to exploiting emerging space capabilities, including UK launch, and as understanding of our growing reliance on services delivered from and through space for all military activities spreads across Defence.

As a result of AVM Rocky Rochelle’s efforts, the Royal Air Force finds itself at the forefront of thinking on acquisition agility, disruptive thinking and innovation.  AVM Rocky Rochelle is accordingly recognised for his innovative approach and individual and exceptional contribution to aviation by the award of the Sir Barnes Wallis Medal.


Previous Winners:

1979/80 Gabe Rob (Jock) Bryce

1980/81 Captain John Archibald Cameron OBE

1982 Not Awarded

1982/83 John A Denyer

1983/84 HMS Endurance Flight

1984/85 Air Commodore Peter Howard

1986 Not Awarded

1986/87 Peter F Cedervall

1988 Not Awarded

1988/89 Jeffrey Kindersley Quill OBE

1990 - 1992 Not Awarded

1992/93 A J Smith

1994 Not Awarded

1994/95 Michael Foale PhD

1996 Not Awarded

1996/97 Keith Perrin

1997/98 Group Captain John Cunningham

1998/99 Wing Commander K H Wallis

1999/2000 Peter Holding

2000/01 Professor Kay Young PhD

2001/02 Lieutenant Commander Paul C J Stone RN and Squadron Leader Justin Paines

2002/03 Dr Martin (Dill) Faulkes

2003/04 Squadron Leader Charles W (Bill) Thompson

2004/05 Kenneth Peter Ross Smart

2005/06 5 Regiment Army Air Corps

2006/07 Sam Wells OBE

2008  Not Awarded

2008/09 Timothy Prince OBE FRAeS

2010 Not Awarded

2010/11 Major David Amlôt MBE

2011/12 Michael John Miller-Smith

2012/13 Nicholas Dean Lappos

2013/14 Hybrid Air Vehicles

2014/15 Dr Richard Raistrick OBE

2016 - 2017  Not Awarded

2018  Air Vice-Marshal Simon "Rocky" Rochelle OBE DFC RAF