On Monday, 2nd July, the historic Segrave Trophy was awarded to Dave Sykes who, in 2011, made a record-breaking microlight journey from England to Australia. The 2011 Segrave Trophy citation reads: The outstanding achievement of becoming the first British paraplegic pilot to fly solo, unsupported, in a microlight aircraft from Britain to Australia.
Between April and August 2011, Dave completed the 16,000 mile journey to become the first paraplegic to fly from York to Sydney in a microlight. His journey took 257 flying hours during which time he crossed 19 countries. He coped with long sea crossings, single handily rebuilding the microlight over five times throughout the journey.
Speaking at the award ceremony at the Royal Automobile Club, Dave Sykes said that he, ‘did not set off with the intentions of getting anything like this,’ but, ‘simply set off to fly around the world raising enough money to get to Australia’. Dave voiced that he was, ‘just an ordinary guy from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire,’ and felt, ‘absolutely honoured to get this award’.
Speaking on behalf of the Royal Automobile Club, Chairman, Tom Purves, said: ‘If you look at people who have won it in the past, from Donald Campbell to Adrian Newey, they have all made huge contributions in a field which demands concentration, demands dedication and is exciting in the most glamorous sense. If you think about Dave, the present winner, his willingness to engage in adventure, flying from Yorkshire to Australia, as a wheelchair-bound individual requires such dedication, such concentration, such energy and such commitment it is beyond most people’s comprehension and so it is a pleasure to see such a fine trophy go to such a deserving individual.’
Dave Sykes broke his back and suffered multiple fractures when a motorist knocked him off his motorbike in 1993. He spent six months in hospital and was initially given only a 30 per cent chance of survival. Now paraplegic, Sykes initially took up tandem parachuting and flying microlights in 2000. His flight was to celebrate 81 years since Amy Johnson became the first woman to fly solo to Australia.