The Central Flying School Trophy

Awarded to an individual, group or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution toward the achievement of excellence in the delivery of flying training or instructional standards.

2021 Awarded to: Flight Lieutenant James Hobkirk RAF

Flight Lieutenant James Hobkirk has displayed exceptional dedication to helicopter flying, instruction and examination across a variety of RAF and Tri-Service Units for 32 years.

HOBKIRK James CFSHis operational flying on the Chinook helicopter has included tours in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Afghanistan; and more recently Mali. These have been some of the highest-intensity deployments that the RAF Support Helicopter Force has undertaken over the last 22 years. As well as the warfighting desert campaigns of Iraq and Afghanistan, he took part in the longest-range helicopter fast-run deployment the UK military has ever undertaken; UK to Sierra Leone in 2000 as part of ‘Op Palliser’. His breadth of experience and proven ability to pass that experience to his juniors sets him apart from his peers.  His most recent tour to Mali is an example of his exceptional ability to mentor the junior Squadron cohort, building crew confidence and skills that have enhanced the capability of the Chinook Force as part of a complex multinational operation in punishing environment of West Africa.

He was selected as a helicopter instructor in 2002 and has since amassed more than 1500 hours in role. In 2016, he was awarded the highest category of qualification as a Central Flying School instructor (A1, exceptional), a coveted and rare level of qualification across the UK Forces.  He has since been awarded A1 on Chinook and at present, is the only current instructor to hold this category of qualification on a front-line Squadron. Prior to that, at RAF Shawbury, whilst serving at the Tri-Service Defence Helicopter Flying School, he proved himself time and again as the instructor of choice when dealing with trainees who struggled with the rigorous demands of flying training.  He also served in the examination and standardisation role on Support Helicopter Standards as well as Central Flying School Exam Wing.  In these two roles, he was responsible for examining flying standards for RAF Support Helicopter pilots and Tri-Service helicopter instructors, placing him at a level above his peers on credibility, qualification and responsibility.

Hobkirk has amassed in excess of 7000 flying hours; qualified on 7 types of fixed and rotary wing aircraft and an additional 3 types that he has examined on. His rotary wing experience levels in the British Forces is unparalleled. As an instructor and an examiner, he has operated in the tri-Service environment with distinction and pride. He is always the first to volunteer for extra responsibilities. For his immense aggregate contribution to military aviation instruction, both on operations overseas and here in the UK, Flight Lieutenant James David Hobkirk is a highly deserving recipient of the Central Flying School Trophy.

Previous Winners:

2005/06  Captain Derek Jones

2006/07  Sqn Ldr Anthony N Clements

2007/08  Sqn Ldr Peter Howlett

2008/09  Hawk Synthetic Training Facility RAF Valley

2009/10  Sqn Ldr Selwyn Williams

2010/11  Captain Dieter Harms

2011/12  Alexander John Hurrell BA cfs

2012/13  The Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Training Unit (SARTU) RAF Valley

2013/14  Ian Douglas Fogarty AFC qfi

2014/15  Royal Air Force Puma HC2 Aircrew Training Team

2016   Tayside Aviation Ltd

2017  Wg Cdr Harry Palmer

2018  awarded twice:
      Sqn Ldr John Benson-Cooper RNZAF
      653 Sqn ACC

2019  673 Sqn ACC

2020  Lt Cdr David Westley RN

2021  Flt Lt James Hobkirk RAF