Aero club flies high in aviation awards

WINNERS: Royal Newcastle Aero Club at Rutherford and its chief instructor, Phil Unicomb, have picked up  national aviation awards.   Picture: Peter Stoop

WINNERS: Royal Newcastle Aero Club at Rutherford and its chief instructor, Phil Unicomb, have picked up national aviation awards. Picture: Peter Stoop

THE Royal Newcastle Aero Club and its chief flying instructor, Phil Unicomb, will be presented with accolades in a special ceremony today  after taking out two categories in the inaugural Wings Award for Australian general aviation.

The club was named Aero Club of the Year and Mr Unicomb, who came to the club almost three years ago, was named Flying Instructor of the Year. It is the highest accolade the club has received in its 85-year history.

“It really is something. This is great news for the club,” Mr Unicomb said.

“Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to win a lot of things, including a world championship, but nothing quite as big as this one.”

The club started in Newcastle in 1928 and moved to Rutherford in 1961. 

It focuses on expanding training opportunities and incorporating new technologies into its practices to enhance every pilot’s experience.

The judges said Mr Unicomb’s initiative in incorporating techniques he taught over three decades running an aerobatics business in Maitland into an emergency manoeuvre training program to help prevent aviation accidents showed his “commitment to aviation safety”.

 “We’re looking at things like how would  [the students] cope if they ended up upside down, or if they lost control, or if it stalled.”

The awards, which were made possible through the Australian Division of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Australian Flying magazine, will be presented at the clubhouse at noon. 

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