Aviation forms part of Mike's earliest memories – seeing the Bristol Brabazon on one of its test flights, and flying from Bristol (where he lived under the circuit of the Filton works of Bristol Aeroplane Company) to Guernsey in a DH Dove – before he was 2.
At school, Mike joined the Air Training Corps, took part in aircraft recognition competitions and was awarded scholarships to learn to fly gliders (1965) and aeroplanes (1966), obtaining a PPL. In the course of his Chemical Sciences degree, Mike spent 3 years running the university gliding club at Tibenham in Norfolk. Subsequently, as a science teacher in Gloucestershire, Mike would come into contact with pioneering figures in several other new areas of aviation which he still values today: the Bristol & Gloucestershire Gliding Club had among its members founders of ballooning and hang gliding, as well as Australian former Spitfire and Meteor pilot (and F1 racing driver) Tony Gaze who still is a member of the Guild, living in Melbourne.
A desire to see the World Gliding Championships held at Waikerie in South Australia in 1974, led to a job with the NSW Education Department in a small town near Wagga Wagga. He spent his entire Christmas/New Year holiday as a volunteer helper getting Waikerie ready for the championships and then as an extra crew member for the Great Britain team. During 8 years in Junee, Mike became a gliding instructor and converted his aeroplane licence to an Australian one, also commencing study for night flying ratings and a commercial pilot licence.
Mike left teaching in 1981 to train as an air traffic controller. This endeavour left Mike with the nickname “Wombat” which has stuck ever since, but no Air Traffic Control rating. Instead Mike ended up as a public servant in Canberra. In 1983 he transferred to the Department of Aviation as an accounts clerk. His interest in aviation and knowledge of flying eventually led to the position of Sport Aviation Inspector in 1986. He continued active participation in flying in Canberra, and joined the Aero Club and Gliding Club in Temora, which was developing from a sleepy country aerodrome into the hub of aviation activity that it has become today.
The CAA provided Mike with opportunities to learn to fly hot air balloons and ultralight aeroplanes, as well as a brief introduction to hang gliders and paragliders. He still maintains a senior instructor rating with what is now Recreational Aviation Australia, and is a pilot examiner with the Australian Ballooning Federation. Mike completed Commercial and Airline Transport Pilot Licences, a multi-engine instrument rating and a flight instructor (aeroplane) rating.
Mike retired from CASA in early 2008, adding two aeroplanes to his fleet of toys – a Bellanca Scout for glider towing and tailwheel training, and a J5F Auster. The Auster received an airworthiness certificate in time to attend the Anzac weekend rally of the Antique Aeroplane Association of Australia at Echuca in April 2009. Mike now lives in Temora, NSW, on the Temora Aviation Estate (residential airpark at the airport. He continues his involvement with the various aviation activities the town has to offer including the world-class Temora Aviation Museum where Mike volunteers.
Mike was introduced to the then Guild in 2006 by Stephen Ingham and regrets not finding out about the Guild sooner in his career. Visiting family in the UK means that Mike has had the opportunity to become involved in activities such as the (now) Honourable Company of Air Pilots Flying Club's dinners and fly-aways; joining in the Air Pilot's industry visits program. He helped form an active Working Group in the Australian Capital Territory in 2010, and has held the positions of Secretary and Chairman of the Australian Region.
For his significant contribution to Australian Aviation and, in particular, to the Australian Region of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, Mike Cleaver is nominated for the Master’s Australian Award 2020.
2020 Michael John Cleaver BSc
2019 Captain Darryl Hill
2018 Robert Moore
2017 Mr G A "Peter" Lloyd AC AO OBE
2016 John Graham Eacott MAP
2015 Harold Roy Walton CEng FRAeS FCILTA CPEng MIE(Aust) MAP
2014 Captain R A "Sandy" Howard
2013 Sue Ball
2012 Bishop Anthony Hall-Matthews
2011 Spencer Lyons Ferrier
2010 John Whittington
2009 Captain Warwick Balir Tainton MAP