> Liz Inwood Taildragger Scholarship

The winner of the 2016 VAC Liz Inwood Taildragger Scholarship

Michael Atherton, winner 2016 VAC Liz Inwood Taildragger Scholarship

The VAC has been in existence for over 50 years, and currently has some 300 members who own and operate almost 200 classic and vintage aircraft. In common with many organisations today, the Vintage Aircraft Club is most conscious of a rapidly widening age gap in its membership. As the majority of our membership are either already at, or rapidly approaching, bus pass age, if our club is to thrive and survive, we recognize that not only must we attract new younger members, but must also hand on the skill sets required for these younger people to operate the older type of conventional undercarriage aircraft, or taildragger as they are more commonly known, since it must be recognized that nearly all training and recreational flying is carried out today on machines with the tricycle type undercarriage. We also have to accept that flying as a hobby is generally not a cheap sport, and that just staying current on type will strain the financial resource of most young people.

So how did the Scholarship come about? Liz Inwood, who unfortunately died in October 2013 after a long battle with cancer, was a passionate aviatrix with a tremendous sense of humour. Although originally trained as an artist, Liz was bitten by the aviation bug at an early age in the 1980s, and initially learned to fly at White Waltham. Every spare moment was spent flying, eventually amassing over 1,000 hours and she became both an instructor and CAA examiner. Primarily based at Oxford (Kidlington) she was also madly keen on the older classic aircraft, particularly the de Havilland Tiger Moth and similar types, once making a tour of Europe in a DH Hornet Moth. Liz was an inspiration to many fledgling pilots and was particularly enthusiastic in encouraging younger people to take up the sport. After her untimely death some of her family members decided to give a legacy to the VAC, of which she was a long-time active member, to be used as the Club saw fit. To this end the Club decided to match the family's generous donation and set up this Scholarship in her memory. The purpose now is to enable a young person to fly the type of aircraft she loved so much. After much scrimping and saving, begging and badgering, by the end of 2015 the Club accumulated sufficient funds to ensure that this could be not just a single event, but an ongoing award. In May this year the Club launched its first invitations through the GA press for young people to apply for the 2016 Scholarship.

The criteria were quite simple - the candidates had to be under 35 years of age, with 100 hours total time, and 50 hours as P1. By the closing date at the end of July, we had over 20 applications of a very high standard, giving the selection panel a very difficult task indeed. The selection criteria we applied included such headings as commitment to vintage aviation, plans for the future application of the Scholarship and the applicant's passion for the operation of vintage or classic aircraft. The Scholarship will pay for up to five hours flying time at an approved flying school including aircraft hire and instructor's fees towards the individual's differences training costs.

The winner of the 2016 VAC - Liz Inwood Scholarship is Michael Atherton. Michael, aged 22, from Deighton near York, left school at 18 years old and studied IT. His interest in aviation started at the age of eight when he flew in a Gazelle helicopter. He trained for his PPL at Breighton and won his wings at the age of twenty. He now has over 200 hours as P1 on the Cherokee P28. He is an active member of the Real Aeroplane Club and also of the Auster Club. His submission clearly demonstrated not only a passion for the classic vintage aircraft but an intent to take the vintage message to a wider and younger audience.

It should be emphasised to all those young people who made an application this year but were unsuccessful, that the VAC will be offering this award again next year, and for the forseeable future, so apply again in 2017.

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