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Pilot gets to international heights

Wairarapa pilot and vintage aviation enthusiast Bevan Dewes attended the annual banquet of the Royal Aeronautical Society [RaeS] in London recently, as one of four finalists in the running for the President’s Young Pioneer Award.

Dewes was nominated by his friend and fellow historic aviation fan Dave Homewood, who said he was absolutely thrilled Dewes was chosen as a finalist.

“I saw the society had introduced a brand new award for youth pioneers and immediately thought of Bevan because the stuff that he’s been doing in aviation certainly needs recognition,” Homewood said.

“I kind of thought, ‘Well, it’s in London so he might not get a look in, but I’ll nominate him anyway’.”

Homewood said Dewes’ age and his passion for aviation and preserving historic aircraft made him well deserving of the nomination.

“He’s in his 20s, and he’s got a collection of historic aircraft already, which is incredible,” Homewood said.

“He’s an incredible display pilot as well as having skills beyond so many other people who have been doing it for twice as long.”

The award was launched by RaeS President Kerissa Khan to acknowledge the hard work and achievements of a young pioneer in the industry, pushing boundaries in innovation.

In the end, the award went to Mariya Tarabanovska, founder of urban air mobility platform Flight Crowd, something Dewes said is quite different from “old aeroplanes”.

Dewes said he enjoyed the time he spent in London, where he got to see the RaeS headquarters.

“I got a bit of a tour and saw a whole bunch of places you wouldn’t normally get a chance to go,” Dewes said.

“I think that building was donated to the RAS right in the early days of aviation, and it’s been the society’s headquarters for a long time.”

Dewes said over 400 people attended the banquet.

Dewes meeting the Royal Aeronautical Society President Kerissa Khan in London. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

“It was good, I did feel a bit like a fish out of water, as one of the few who were in the vintage, warbird, aviation spectrum,” Dewes said.

“Most people there were in the modern innovation science, space technology.”

Dewes made headlines earlier this year for his successful restoration of an 80-year-old Harvard aircraft, which won the grand champion warbird trophy at the Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow in Easter.

“It’s behaving,” he said of the aircraft. “It’s done about 30 hours now and been up and down the countryside.”

Dewes said he wants to keep focusing on preserving aviation skills and keeping them alive for future generations.

“The cost is a huge barrier for people getting access to this stuff,” Dewes said.

“It’s really hard to access these old aeroplanes unless you buy one or are well and truly in the loop with someone who owns them. So that’s definitely a big challenge for people.”

President of the aviation operation Wairarapa Flying Tigers Stephen Davies Howard said Dewes has done “incredibly well” to receive international recognition.

“To be to be invited over to the dinner is a huge feather in his cap,” Davies Howard said.

“That recognition is very well deserved. He is the future of warbird flying – certainly in Wairarapa, if not New Zealand.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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