While the annual International Council of Airshows convention is a place for performers, organizers, and support staff to meet and coordinate the following show season, it also offers a chance to reflect on previous seasons and recognize standout individuals and groups. The event culminates in an awards banquet where airshow professionals celebrate their own with their highest honors.
At this year’s banquet on December 8th, several airshow performers were honored with distinguished awards.
SWORD OF EXCELLENCE – Bill Stein
The airshow industry’s highest honor is the Sword of Excellence, presented to a member who exemplifies outstanding service and personal contributions to the industry. Over the past three decades, 40 recipients have been honored with the award. The selection committee for the award is made up of a member of the board of directors, two past award recipients and two at-large members with at least 10 years of airshow experience.
Bill has worked over the years to enhance the airshow industry by working with ICAS and the FAA to develop “reasonable, workable language on ‘aerobatic energy directed at the crowd,’ and certification currency requirements.”
As a member of the Aerobatic Competency Evaluation (ACE) Committee for nearly seven years, Bill’s work has been incredibly helpful creating guidance responsible for decreasing fatal airshow incidents through the ICAS ACE Manual.
ICAS also says they decided to honor Bill due to his extensive mentorship time with new air show pilots, helping to coach them through his experiences as both a solo pilot and a formation pilot.
ART SCHOLL MEMORIAL SHOWMANSHIP AWARD – Geico Skytypers
The Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship award is given to an airshow act or performer that best exemplifies the qualities of showmanship demonstrated by Art Scholl. Scholl was a long-time and active ICAS member, known for his airshow performances but also for his many appearances in motion picture films, documentaries, and television commercials. Scholl died while filming such a flying sequence for a movie off the coast of California in 1985.
The Geico Skytypers were awarded ICAS’ highest showmanship award at the 2016 ICAS convention for not only their work in the air, but also for creating new and innovative ways to share the love of aviation and airshow flying with the public.
The team, based in Farmingdale, NY, is a six-ship WWII-era SNJ-2 (T-6 Texan) formation team, known for their formation flying and aerial skytyping. The large messages they type in the sky are 1,000 feet tall and can be visible for up to 15 miles in any direction. Due to this extreme visibility, ICAS credits the Geico Skytypers with generating interest in people who may not even know an aviation event is occurring in their community.
On the ground, the Skytypers maintain a strong community outreach effort, sharing their passion for aviation with airshow fans through autograph sessions, school, youth and veterans visits and spending time with community groups. The team also has it’s “In-Formation” webisode series, which gives a unique perspective into the world of airshow formation flying.
WINGMAN AWARD – Rudy Malnati
The Wingman award, renamed this year to honor and recognize the late Bob Hoover, is presented each year to an individual who has been a reliable supporter or advocate of the airshow business.
The International Council of Air Shows (ICAS)’s Wingman Award was presented to Rudy Malnati. Rudy is the long-time director of several Midwest airshows, including the Chicago Air and Water Show. He has spent 50 years working in the airshow industry, and first worked at the Chicago Air and Water Show in 1963 as a first grader! He attended his first ICAS meeting in 1967, at the ripe age of 13. By 15, he was helping to book acts.
Throughout his career, he has earned recognition from the U.S Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Army Golden Knights, becoming a honorary member of both teams. He is respected by his peers, who say he is “the personification of what it means to be a good wingman”.
The Pinnacle Award honors recipients who “showcase professionalism, innovation in problem solving, and overall excellence in airshow operations and management.” Awards are given in the small, mid-size, and large civilian airshow and military airshows/open houses categories. Three other Pinnacvle Awards are given in the civilian performer, military performer, and support service provider categories. The 2016 winners are:
SUPPORT SERVICE PROVIDERS
- Gold Recipient – Precision Exotics
- Platinum Recipient – ADC Group, Inc.
- Platinum Recipient – Captain Maciej “Match” Hatta (Snowbird #3)
- Gold Recipient – Commemorative Air Force B24/B29 Squadron
- Platinum Recipient – Greg Shelton Airshows
MILITARY OPEN HOUSES/AIR SHOWS
- Gold Recipient – MacDill Air Force Base presents Tampa Bay AirFest
- Platinum Recipient – Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Airshow
SMALL CIVILIAN AIR SHOWS (tie for Platinum)
- Platinum Recipient #1a – Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival
- Platinum Recipient #1b – The Highest Air Show on Earth
MID-SIZE CIVILIAN AIR SHOWS
- Gold Recipient – Duluth Air and Aviation Expo/Kern and Kompany
- Platinum Recipient – Lynchburg Regional Air Show
LARGE CIVILIAN AIR SHOWS
- Gold Recipient – Cleveland National Air Show
- Platinum Recipient – Bell Helicopter Fort Worth Alliance Air Show
If you’d like to learn more, ICAS has provided detailed biographies on each award winner.
AirshowStuff congratulates all the winners of this year’s awards. We can’t wait to see you in 2017!