Adelaide pilot, Jon Johanson to be honoured as a "High Flyer" by the FAI in Paris. Just two days after receiving the world's highest aviation award, the 2004 Gold Medal from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), Jon Johanson will be honoured as a "High Flyer" at a glittering event in Paris this evening, celebrating the centenary of the FAI.
At the "High Flyers" event, Jon will join a select group of celebrated aviators from around the world including Steve Fossett, Valery Poliakoff, Buzz Aldrin and Bertrand Piccard. FAI President Pierre Portmann said : "The history of FAI consists mainly of colourful and independent characters who pushed forward the limits of what can be done in the air. It's a great privilege for us to be the heirs of these exceptional men and women who marked the history of FAI. The "dream of Icarus" is still alive, and our job is to perpetuate this dream into the future".
Jon received the FAI Gold Medal earlier this week in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of aeronautics in sport aviation. The medal was presented at the opening ceremony of a conference celebrating 100 years of the FAI.
The FAI Secretary General, Max Bishop, said " Jon's hard work, meticulous planning, initiative and commitment when building his own small aircraft were supremely demonstrated when he flew it over distances and terrains that would have challenged the most intrepid and skilful aviators in much larger, industrially produced aircraft".
Jon has spent thousands of hours building, modifying and testing his single engine RV-4 sport aircraft, VH-NOJ for the long distance flights..
Jon holds 48 FAI world records. His record making flights have included:
• Three times around the world (heading east, west and north)
• Over the north pole (part of the third round the world flight)
• Over the south pole. (first solo single engine)
Jon said "it is a huge honour to receive this international award". He joins the list of three other celebrated Australians who have been awarded the FAI Gold Medal. They are Bert Hinkler (1928), Sir Donald Anderson (1973) and Peter Lloyd (1989).
For further information contact:
Sue Ball 0417 813 699 or Ed Herring 0408 787 018
(Remark from Paul Middleton, CEO of Recreational Aviation Australia Inc:
"Interesting to note that Peter Lloyd is a Life Member of RA-Aus.")
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The FAI Gold Air Medal 2004
The FAI Gold Air Medal was established in 1924 and was first awarded in 1925. It is one of the FAI's two highest awards. It is reserved for those who have contributed greatly to the development of aeronautics by their activities, work, achievements, initiative or devotion to the cause of aviation. The 2004 recipient is Jon Johanson, an Adelaide pilot who built and flew his Van's RV-4 aircraft on many world record flights.
"This man is also quite exceptional. An apprentice carpenter who became a nurse-midwife, he sacrificed and saved to learn how to fly and eventually became one of the bravest and most adventurous light aeroplane pilots of all time. He is the only person ever to have flown a tiny home-built light aircraft round the world 3 times, west-to-east and east-to- west, and to have over-flown both Poles. Some of the trans-oceanic legs of these flights defy belief. One took over 15 hours. He spent two and a half years and 2000 hours of work building his own Van's RV-4 aircraft, completing it in 1992. He began setting and breaking FAI World Records in 1994. Currently he holds 47 FAI World Records in Classes C-1B and C-1C. The hard work, meticulous planning, initiative, and commitment he displayed when building his aircraft were rewarded when he flew that tiny aircraft safely over distances and terrains that would challenge the most intrepid and skilful aviators in much larger and better equipped aircraft. His courage, tenacity, and determination to succeed make him a very worthy recipient of the FAI Gold Air Medal in FAI's centenary year."
I first met Jon Johanson in the early 90's at an SAAA convention at Mangalore, Victoria. Jon had flown to the convention in his Van's RV-4, which he had completed not long before. Little did I realise what this seemingly very quiet and unassuming individual would achieve with his little aircraft. As the years since have passed, I have been in awe of Jon's adventures that have seen him accrue 51 FAI world records ( 47 are still current). Before Jon became the very first person to fly a single engine, fixed wing homebuilt aircraft solo over the South Pole in December 2003, Jon had flown his Van's RV-4 three times around the world, including being the first person to fly solo over the North Pole in a homebuilt aircraft in the year 2000 while enroute from Canada to Norway.
Jon Johanson was awarded the 2004 Australian Geographic Gold Medal for his solo flight over the South Pole and gained seven new FAI world records for his effort. The meticulous dedication and planning for the South Pole flight was synonymous with all of Jon's long distance flights. Jon recognised the enormity of the task of tackling the South Pole and had spent many years planning the flight, commencing in 1997. It was the inspiration of the Centenary of Powered Flight in December 2003 that brought the determination to try for a non-stop flight over Antarctica and the South Pole. This flight took almost all Jon's life savings, and the sheer courage, skill and persistence to fly VH-NOJ for 26.5 hours non stop over the worlds most hostile ocean and continent.
The re-engineering of VH-NOJ for this ultra long distance flight would not have been possible without the Australian Experimental aircraft building rules which enabled Jon and his engineer, Brett Turner, to make the modifications and create the RV-4TE (Turbo Endurance).
When the greatness of Jon's achievements are considered, VH-NOJ is not a factory built aircraft, nor is it an aircraft built by someone else. Jon built his aircraft and, with the help of his engineer, has managed to engineer NOJ to perform and achieve goals far in excess of the designer Richard Van Grunsven's expectations. Jon Johanson is both the builder and the pilot of his Vans RV-4TE, as were the Wright Brothers' builders and pilots of their experimental aircraft. The spirit, determination and skill of this modern day aviation pioneer is synonymous with the pioneers before him.
It is Jon Johanson's adventures that have taken me to be interested in other aviation adventurers and their achievements. As a consequence I found myself drawing a parallel with the magnitude of the support teams involved in each adventure. One of the most interesting aspects of Jon Johanson, is that when he flies solo into an adventure he has always operated with a very small support team.
While I have no wish to detract from other adventurers' achievements, I feel that this important element is not generally recognised. Jon has a small group of very important and vital sponsors and supporters. With his partner, Sue Ball, as the public relations and logistics machine, they manage to juggle Jon's adventures with working full time to earn a living. Speaking engagements for various groups are very much a part of Jon's life as he appears tireless in his endeavours to encourage others to follow their dreams. Jon has worked for many years to not only achieve his personal goals, but to encourage others in all walks of life to strive to accomplish their dreams.
While I am enjoying the marvels of flight with sport and recreational flying on weekends, I acknowledge that it is our aviation pioneers that made it possible.
"It is because our aviation pioneers had the spirit, courage, determination and skill, that any of us can experience the joy of travel when we board a passenger jet to any corner of the globe".
Ed Herring — RAAus Member # 003605
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