A Cotswolds innovator, who was a founder member of the world’s largest military airshow, will become tonight the first non-American to be inducted into the International Council of Air Shows’ Hall of Fame.
American airshow organisers will bestow the posthumous honour on Paul Bowen at their annual convention in Las Vegas this evening (December 11).
The citation states that the award is made “in recognition of Paul’s achievements as an airshow industry leader and innovator, and his contributions as a mentor and role model for air show event organisers all over the world”.
Paul, who died from cancer in 2004, aged 57, founded the Air Tattoo with his friend Tim Prince in 1971 and it has since grown to become the world’s largest military airshow. It regularly attracts more than 300 aircraft and crowds in excess of 150,000 to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, where it is staged in support of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.
The award, a bronze plaque featuring an etching of Paul, will be presented to his widow Janet Bowen, who will travel from Marston Meysey in Wiltshire to receive it. A second plaque will be placed in the Frontiers of Flight Aviation Museum in Dallas, Texas.
Janet said: “If Paul was alive he’d be over the Moon. It’s a testament to Paul’s achievements that, four years after his death, there remains an appreciation of the contribution he made to helping shape the airshow industry around the world.”
Air Tattoo Director Tim Prince said Paul was a trailblazer and would have really enjoyed becoming the first non-American to feature in the Hall of Fame. He said: “Paul was a remarkable man who exuded enthusiasm for aviation. His vision and passion served as an inspiration for airshow organisers around the world. Paul helped the Air Tattoo grow into the unique and exciting event it is today and as a result, air forces from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Canada, the USA, South Africa and Romania, among many others, turned to him for advice when staging their own national airshows. More than this, they appreciated the valuable opportunity the Air Tattoo presented, and continues to present, to rub shoulders with their influential NATO colleagues.”
The Air Tattoo takes place at RAF Fairford on July 18 and 19, 2009. For details, visit www.airtattoo.com