30.09.20 Past Master Group Captain Marcus Wills CVO OBE

Sir Geoffrey De Havilland Scholarship awarded

Although for obvious reasons we have been unable to complete the great majority of our aerospace university awards this year, I am delighted to report that the Coachmakers Sir Geoffrey De Havilland Scholarship selection has been completed, albeit virtually and courtesy of Zoom.

The Sir Geoffrey De Havilland scholarship was established in 2014, in conjunction with the Cambridge Flying Group (CFG) which has been providing both ab initio and continuation flying training on DH82a Tiger Moths for the past 67 years. The scholarship helps to provide training to Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) standard for an aspiring young pilot under the age of 30, helping them to achieve an ambition that would not otherwise be possible.

Although pilot training per se is not part of our usual charitable ethos (we can leave that to the Air League and the Honourable Company of Air Pilots) we believe that the unique experience of learning to fly a vintage aircraft most certainly is! Besides helping CFG to preserve the heritage surrounding such iconic machines, we believe that the raw experience of mastering a bi-plane built in the 1930s, with the most basic instrumentation and without any sniff of avionics or other modern equipment (even brakes!), makes a significant contribution to an individual’s general air-mindedness and awareness of flight safety as they embark on an aerospace industry career. As a pilot with an equal number of take-offs and landings once said: ‘Thanks be to Icarus for the engineers who built this!’

A record number of more than 30 applicants was reduced to a short list of six, who were interviewed by a combined Coachmaker and CFG panel on Saturday 19th September in a very closely fought competition. The plenary session to open the competition included an inspiring online presentation by our 2016 winner Holly Palmer-Davison who, as recently reported in Coachlines, has now achieved her full PPL and has also become a highly enthusiastic full member of the CFG. She not only flies regularly but helps to maintain the aircraft in their first-class condition – thereby developing another set of engineering skills.

2020 winner Nicola Temple

2020 winner Nicola Temple

The winner this year is 23-year-old Nicola Temple, who is a recent graduate of the University of Liverpool where she completed an MEng degree in Avionic Systems. She is now working in her first industry appointment on a graduate scheme with MBDA Systems as an avionics systems engineer.
On a subsequent – well ‘socially distanced’ – visit to the Cambridge Flying Group Nicola told Liveryman David Kynaston OBE, President CFG and also a member of our Aerospace Awards Committee: “It is amazing to have been chosen for the Coachmakers’ Sir Geoffrey de Havilland Flying Scholarship. I never thought that I would be able to learn to fly, and so this award really is a dream come true. I’m thrilled to be given such a wonderful opportunity which I am sure will be a great help in developing my career in the aerospace engineering industry.”

Looking to the future, Nicola has a strong interest in aviation safety and is keen to become more involved in safety standards and practices as she progresses through her career. After such an outstanding start in the world of aerospace engineering we believe that to learn the “stick and string” basics of flying a vintage aircraft will be an excellent addition to her portfolio.