The Australian Bicentennial Award

Awarded as an ongoing commemoration of the Australian Bi-Centenary, to recognise an outstanding individual contribution to Australian aviation.

2023 awarded to: Ian Honnery

Ian Honnery started his professional life as a lawyer while, on a pro-bono basis, simultaneously dedicating an enormous amount of time between 1976 and 1992 to his air show activities and to his responsibilities as the founding Chair of Aerospace Foundation of Australia Limited. Ian eventually became the fulltime Chief Executive of the organisation in 1999. Ian continued to serve as the CE of Aerospace Maritime Defence and Security Foundation of Australia, and then its corporate successor AMDA Foundation Limited until his retirement in 2022.

Ian’s personal flying background is both as a private pilot and a glider pilot. From being the President of the tiny Schofields Flying Club on Sydney’s Western outskirts to being the Chief Executive Officer of AMDA Foundation Ltd, running the Internationally famous ‘Airshows HONNERY IanDownUnder’, Ian Honnery can be regarded as being the driving force behind all that AMDA and its predecessors have achieved over the last 46 years. He was at the forefront of the inaugural Schofields Airshow in 1976 and has overseen the growth which has resulted in today’s significant and influential organisation.

A man of vision and of seemingly unlimited energy, Ian guided the Schofields Airshow from its modest and successful start. By the time of the last show in 1985 it had developed into a major event with significant military, industry and trade participation.  

The Schofields crew was then given the task of organising and staging the Bicentennial Air Show at RAAF Richmond in 1988, on official Australian Bicentennial event.  It was enormously successful and properly regarded as the best air show the country had seen.  Military and civil participants from all over the world took part and the event was a great success with a large crowd in attendance.

As the show’s Executive Chairman, Ian’s contribution to the show was recognised in 1989 when he was awarded the Oswald Watt Gold Medal (Australia’s highest aviation award). Other awards have followed including the Paul Tissandier Diploma (FIA award), the inaugural R C Adams Award (AOPA, Aus), Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellowship, a Fellowship of the Australian Aviation Safety Foundation and a Fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Ian’s vision did not end with the Bicentennial Airshow, it provided the catalyst which resulted in the creation of the Aerospace Foundation of Australia and its operational division, Airshows DownUnder, dedicated to the promotion of Australian aviation and its industry by staging a permanent and regular international air show.

The result was the first Australian International Air Show at Avalon Airport near Geelong in October 1992.  It combined significant industry, military and government participation through the Aerospace Expo, conferences and industry media briefings with a lengthy and varied flying display for the public featuring everything from light aircraft to aerobatics, novelty acts, warbirds, airliners and supersonic jets.

Avalon grew into a biennial event from 1995 and quickly established itself as one of the world’s great airshows and the centrepiece of AMDA’s activities.  On Ian Honnery’s watch the organisation has expanded and now also hosts several major events: Indo Pacific International Maritime Exposition, Land Forces International Land Defence Exposition, Rotortech Helicopter and Unmanned Flight Exposition and CivSec International Civil Security Conference.

For making an outstanding individual contribution to Australian Aviation, Ian Honnery is awarded the Australian Bi-Centennial Award.

Previous Winners:

1987/88  Captain T Thom

1988/89  Keith Robey MBE

1989/90  Wg Cdr K C Andrews

1990/91  Captain J K Davenport

1991/92  Gp Capt J W C Baker RAF

1992/93  A J (John) Douglas Esq

1993/94  Captain A Wickes

1994/95  John R Colwell Esq

1995  Mrs Senja Raymond Robey

1996/97  Glenn Elms Esq

1997/98  Captain John W Kessey

1998/99  Langley Kidby

1999/2000  Captain Philip Davenport

2000/01  Stephen Ingham

2001/02  Allana Corbin

2003/04  Captain Peter James Raven

2005  not awarded

2005/06  Bill Bristow

2006/07  David H Lowy

2007/08  not awarded

2008/09  Peter Nottage

2009/10  Gp Capt Dr Robert Lee

2011  not awarded

2011/12  Dr Carol Lesley Durkin PhD LLM BA DipSocStud

2012/13  Christopher Sperou

2013/14  Captain Patrick Stuart Murray

2014/15  Harry Schneider

2016  Matt Hall

2017  Bastiaan Scheffers

2018  Wg Cdr Ian Mallett DFC RAAF(retd)

2019  Nathan Higgins

2020  Gregory James Hood FRAeS

2021  Flt Lt Geoffrey Fox RAAF

2022  Steve Padgett OAM

2023  Ian Honnery