The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has honoured several RAF personnel for guiding to safety a pilot who suffered a stroke during a routine flight. The pilot, flying solo in a light aircraft, was left blind by the attack and unable to land at his destination. An RAF pilot, Wing Commander Paul Gerrard, and his colleagues at the air traffic control unit at Linton-on-Ouse near York worked together to shepherd the pilot to a safe landing. The RAF team today received the CAAs annual Safety Award in recognition of their actions.
The incident in October 2008 followed a request from the blinded pilot for assistance to reach his intended destination after losing visual contact with the aerodrome. Wg Cdr Gerrard was asked to guide the aircraft to the ground with assistance from RAF air traffic controllers. The aircraft, a Cessna 182, landed safely and the pilot walked away without injury. Bob Jones, the CAAs Head of Flight Operations, said: This was a remarkable piece of quick thinking by Wing Commander Gerrard and the air traffic control unit at Linton. Their composure and vigilance undoubtedly saved a pilot in distress. They are very worthy winners of this years Safety Award. The Award, now in its fourteenth year, is presented in recognition of good airmanship or practical skills and abilities when faced with potentially serious incidents directly related to flying.