Wally Epton Receives BBGA’s Outstanding Contribution to Aviation Award

Wally Epton Receives BBGA's Outstanding Contribution to Aviation Award

Wally Epton, who has contributed six decades of exemplary service to the aviation industry in civil and defence roles, is this year’s recipient of the British Business and General Aviation Association’s prestigious Michael Wheatley Award for Outstanding Services to the general aviation industry.

BBGA Chair Aoife O’Sullivan presented Wally with the accolade at the Association’s annual conference and AGM on 7th March at London’s Leonardo Hotel, St Paul’s, to an audience of 140 plus industry peers.

About Wally Epton
Wally’s illustrious career started in 1958 as a Royal Air Force aircraft apprentice at RAF Halton. He completed his flying training as an officer cadet at RAF College Cranwell, a precursor to piloting Strike/Ground Attack B-15 Canberras, C-130 tactical transport aircraft and HS-125 Dominie navigation trainers.

Wally was proud to be a display pilot with the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), flying Spitfires and Hurricanes. He retired from the RAF in 1978 as a Squadron Leader but continued as an active display pilot before moving to Australia in 1981, initially for Shell. While in Australia, he set up a business aviation association.

After nearly ten years in Australia, he returned to the UK. He flew business jets for 33 years for companies, including Coles Myer and Readymix Concrete on the Hawker 125. Operator companies included Gama Aviation. Later, he flew Hawker 4000 and Challenger CL-604 series for private clients.

Flying on UK, EASA, and FAA ATPs, he accumulated 16,400 commercial flight hours. Wally holds Master Air Pilot Certificate No 892 and continues using his flying skills by taking his Tiger Moth into the skies.

In addition to finding time to fly, Wally serves as Chairman of the Historic Aircraft Association (HAA). He is Chair of RAE Farnborough Aero Club, sits on the Aerodrome Consultative Committee for Farnborough Airport, and is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Previously, he was the leader of the HAA Engineering Group and the HAA Self-Administration Project Working Group. As a Liveryman of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, having served as Master in 2011, he was granted Freedom of The City of London.

Paul Cremer, Head of Aviation Delivery at the Gama Aviation Group, said, “Wally was part of the Gama Aviation Hawker pilot team in the early 2000s, flying the HS125-800 and 1000 series on both AOC and managed fleets. He was a great charter pilot with a fantastic ‘can do’ attitude, delivered with integrity, calmness, and professionalism—a perfect match for our clients’ exacting requirements. Wally’s experience and knowledge of this aircraft type are unsurpassed.

On leaving Gama Aviation, Wally became a revered ambassador for aviation and for this sector through his six years as Chair of the BBGA Operations Working Group. He provided me with solid foundations to grow the BBGA’s Operations Working Group. I am proud to follow in his footsteps.”

Dave Edwards, Chief Executive of the Royal Aeronautical Society, said, “I’m delighted to hear of Wally’s prize for this year’s Michael Wheatley Award. Having known and been inspired by both great gentlemen, it’s a fitting tribute to Wally’s continuing career dedicated to aviation, especially business aviation, and his general enthusiasm for the whole sector.

I first met Wally in 2001, a punchy Hawker Captain/sometime Racing Dad, then looking for a sponsor for his son’s car racing career. What ensued was my trawling the length and breadth of the country, watching his son David battle it out with a very young Lewis Hamilton. It was and remains a very happy memory!

Moving forward, Wally has been responsible for my renewing my PPL, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, which I now run, and becoming a Freeman of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots.

In each role, I try to replicate what he’s done throughout his career, doing my best to inspire the next generation to follow us into this great industry. I know this isn’t a Lifetime Achievement award, as he’s far from done.

I’m sure he’ll remain at the heart of our sector for many years to come – phoning me only last month about another idea he’s had – that I must work on!

Well done, Wally, it’s the recognition you thoroughly deserve.”

About Michael Wheatley
Michael Wheatley held a leading role in the support advisory services for the UK Police and ambulance authorities, as well as leading financial institutions. He died in 2006, and BBGA created the award in his name. Recent previous recipients include Marwan Khalek, Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, Tom Perry, Tim Scorer, Penny Stephens, Phil Lammiman, Brian Humphries and Andrew Walters.

About BBGA
BBGA is the UK’s national trade body representing business and general aviation. Formerly known as GAMTA and founded in 1970, its member companies span all facets of the business aviation sector. BBGA represents nearly 200 companies, including airports, corporate flight departments, operators, aviation services organisations, and aircraft manufacturers. In a partnership with EBAA, all BBGA members enjoy dual membership in both associations. Similarly, any UK-based organisation seeking to join EBAA can do so via BBGA.

Wally Epton Receives BBGA's Outstanding Contribution to Aviation Award 2

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