Blackpool RNLI volunteer wins international flying prize

Lifeboats News Release

Ian Butter an RNLI volunteer from Blackpool has been named the 2017 winner of the Pooley’s Dawn to Dusk Competition. Dawn to Dusk is a prestigious international competition that sees entrants from all over the world completing flying challenges that demonstrate the capabilities of pilot and machine.

Ian Butter is presented with the Duke of Edinburgh Trophy at an awards dinner

RNLI/Ian Butter

RNLI Volunteer Ian Butter wins international flying prize

The Pooley’s Dawn to Dusk Competition, now in its fifty third year, provides a unique aeronautical challenge. Pilots must complete a day's flying using a flying machine of their own choice. Entries can be flown at any time of the year and are based on a theme of the pilot’s own choice. The pilot then submits a flight log and report that is judged against competitors from countries including Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Canada, United States and Europe.

As a longstanding volunteer at Blackpool RNLI lifeboat station, it was only natural for Ian to choose an RNLI theme for his flying challenge and in June 2017 he flew just over 1000 miles (920 nautical) from Blackpool around the whole of southern Britain – much of the flight over water - overflying some 90 lifeboat stations and many former and existing ASR airfields; his theme for the challenge was ‘The Role of the RNLI in Air Sea Rescue.’ During his research for the competition, Ian demonstrated that the RNLI were at least 10 years ahead of the military and other organisations in establishing a bespoke Air Sea Rescue service. Through the challenge Ian also raised donations for the RNLI via JustGiving.

Ian and his family attended an awards ceremony in London earlier this month where he was announced as the overall winner of the 2017 competition with a second award for the best flight log and report.

Ian said “Blackpool, like so many stations, has had its share of aircraft related services over the years. Once I started the research I realised how little the role of the RNLI was mentioned in published texts and other records, yet how vital that involvement was and remains today. The competition was an ideal way to recognise the RNLI’s role, whilst also indulging my other passion for flying, and I was surprised and delighted to receive the Duke of Edinburgh Trophy and Pooleys Sword”.

Flying the whole trip in an immersion suit and lifejacket, on one of the hottest days in the year, Ian says he was something of a ‘boil in the bag’ pilot for the trip, but the kit was vital in the event of a ditching.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Esther Lowe Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, RNLI Blackpool on 01253 508603 or 07917091948.

Ian Butter is pictured in front of the light aircraft he flew to complete his challenge.

RNLI/Ian Butter

RNLI Volunteer Ian Butter ready to complete his flying challenge June 2017

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.