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.


2019 awarded to:  Major Thomas Aseltine USAF


Major Thomas Aseltine joined the United States Air Force in 2008, upon graduating from the United States Air Force Academy.  In the past 11 years, he has dedicated himself 005 Maj Aseltine - Barnes Wallisto advancing United States Special Operations Command’s manned tactical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms, accruing over 3,600 flight hours and 9 overseas deployments to Africa and Asia. 

Major Aseltine’s commitment to aviation started early when he graduated from T-38 pilot training with the Outstanding Leadership Award and top academic honours.  Following U-28A training, he commenced operational flying with the 319th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida.  Over the next 8 years, Major Aseltine would spend approximately 2,060 combat flight hours and 449 missions, providing direct support to allied special operations ground forces.  One of his most notable missions occurred in Africa, where Major Aseltine and his crew were the only aircrew available to provide defensive overwatch for the evacuation of over 30 United States citizens from a large capital city during a Major coup, providing turn-by-turn directions and route reconnaissance to multiple convoys in an effort to avoid rioters and rogue military forces.

Major Aseltine and his crew safely escorted all remaining United States citizens to the international airport, where they subsequently were returned home without incident.  Concurrent to his operational deployments, Major Aseltine was responsible for the training and development of over 400 United States Air Force pilots and combat systems operators.  His efforts ensured those in Air Force Special Operations Command were armed with the most tactically relevant information while maintaining high proficiency command-wide.

However, Major Aseltine’s biggest impact to Special Operations airpower has come through his devotion to experimental flight test.  As a qualified Advanced Instrument Instructor, Flight Examiner, and Command Chief Pilot, Major Aseltine currently leads a 50-person team of civilians and military members responsible for the dev4 Sir Barnes Wallis Medal Thomas Aseltineelopment and sustainment of Special Operations aircraft worldwide.  A calm and professional aviator, his more recent accomplishments include the first ever in-flight engine shutdown and restart of the single engine U-28A aircraft and take-off and landing envelope expansion testing on a variety of runway surfaces including mud, sand, and grass.  Both of these efforts significantly increase this aircraft’s ability to safely operate in austere locations worldwide and reduce aircrew risk in the process.

Major Aseltine and his team are also renowned for their ability to quickly turn ideas into reality. When United States Air Force aircrews reported Global Positioning System (GPS) interference while in combat, Major Aseltine and his team designed, tested, and fully integrated jam-resistant alternative methods of deriving precise location within 60 days of those initial aircrew reports.  This solution was subsequently adopted by multiple United States Special Operations aircraft and has become the de facto standard for air combat operations in GPS-degraded environments.

Major Aseltine’s commitment and passion to professional aviation as a leader and innovator, with the ability to produce workable solutions in short time-frames, is deserving of recognition as an innovative and exceptional contribution to aviation.  He is accordingly awarded 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

2019  Major Thomas W Aseltine USAF