Awarded for outstanding flying achievement in General Aviation.
John Stirk took his first flight, aged 10, in 1947, in a BA Swallow and joined the ATC three years later, progressing to Sergeant. Age 15, as an Air Cadet, he flew in a B29 down the Mall – practise for the Queen’s Birthday. At 16 he went solo and applied to join the RAF as a pilot. Because of his age he was offered Navigator and was invited to return a year later, by which time he was enrolled on an engineering apprenticeship.
In 1959, he became a founder member of Doncaster Gliding Club, without a site or gliders. In 1983 John oversaw the move to Burn airfield where he was Chairman for 14 years. He was a committee member at both clubs until 2010.
In July 1960 he started instructing in Gliders, becoming CFI in 1964, and continuing until 1976. From 1975 he was training instructors and in 1978 he was appointed Senior Regional Examiner. Until May 1989 he conducted 53 Instructor Rating Tests and examined for motor glider licences and renewals at nine gliding clubs.
On Sept 10th 1967 he opened the Finningley air display, performing aerobatics in a Skylark Glider from 700 feet. He opened Finningley again on Sept 14th 1969 performing aerobatics in a K6 and again in Sept 1970 in a K13. Having completed his PPL in March 1969, he began aero- towing Gliders in the Condor, and in 1978 he began instructing Motor Glider PPLs.
John has always been keen to promote gliding and encouraging people to gain confidence in their own ability while working together with others. He formed an alliance with the NCB, and Sheffield University, teaching apprentices and students to fly. John has always supported the young and old. He pushed for reduced fees for these groups and, as a result, the club attracted more youngsters, some of whom went on to fly in the RAF or became commercial pilots, one became an air traffic controller while some were happy just to fly and enjoy the friendship that being in a club can give. Some used skills they didn’t know they had but had learned them at the club and used those skills in their career. Older members learned new skills in retirement and took on management roles.
As CFI he attended meetings countrywide and organised training sessions at various clubs. He also visited clubs on behalf of the BGA to check operation, run courses etc. He also attended SRE and BGA meetings. All this was at great expense in time and money, never claiming fees or expenses. He wanted to promote his love of gliding wherever and whenever he could.
John resigned as gliding instructor in 2019 but he is still flying and has just passed solo again for flying in Gliders. He has flown 61 different glider types, with a total of 3562 hours 56mins. Total launches 11,304 - most of those were giving instruction, plus 980 hours 25 mins Power flying in 11 aircraft types – including glider towing.
John Stirk is a remarkable aviator, administrator and instructor, who has selflessly given so much to help so many hundreds of people achieve their dreams and fulfil their previously unknown potential. He is a thoroughly deserving winner of the Myles Bickerton Trophy.
2014 The Blades
2015 Sqn Ldr Gary Coleman RAFR
2016 Maj Ryan D Chute USAF
2017 Donatella Ricci
2018 not awarded
2019 Captain Jeffrey Milsom BSc(Hons)
2020 not awarded
2021 John Stirk
INCORPORATED BY ROYAL CHARTER
PATRON: HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES KG KT GCB OM
MASTER: CAPTAIN ROBIN B KEEGAN FRAeS
CLERK: PAUL J TACON BA FCIS
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