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Jack Hawkins, the 2017 Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholar (right) with Captain Gary Merchant at London Biggin Hill Airport before his first training flight with the Surrey & Kent Flying Club.

Jack Hawkins, aged 18, whose family live in Cambridge, has been awarded the Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholarship for 2017.

At a special ceremony at London Biggin Hill Airport last week, Jack was presented with his flight bag containing the course syllabus, study books and equipment that he will need for the 45-hour flying schedule and nine ground subjects required for qualification for the European Private Pilots Licence.  He also had his first flying lesson with Gary Merchant who flies as Captain with Easyjet.

Sponsored for the main part by the family of the late Captain Nick Davidson (see editorial note accompanying), supporting co-sponsors include Biggin Hill Airport who will cover airport user charges and provide administrative support; Adams Aviation Supply Company who will provide for Jack a hi-tech headset, flight bag and equipment for navigation planning; Shipping & Airlines are supporting with services and a cash contribution and the Surrey & Kent Flying Club will provide all training at special rates.

Jack had been selected as the outstanding candidate from a list of more than 80 aspiring applicants following rigorous interviews and searching aptitude tests.

Chairman of the interview panel, Captain Gary Merchant, said that Jack Hawkins had shown determination in his ambitions, realism with his personal targets and sensible alternative plans if his career path was frustrated in any way.

“Jack was well focussed and clear about the path he planned to follow to qualify as a professional commercial pilot.  His enthusiasm is infectious and he has all the characteristics for eventually becoming a fine aircrew member” says Merchant.

The Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholarship was created at London Biggin Hill Airport in 2013, a year after Nick Davidson had died.   In earlier days, Nick had flown as an Instructor at the Surrey& Kent Flying Club.

The winner of the first scholarship was John Harrison, now in the final stages of qualifying for his Air Transport Pilots Licence to fly airliners.  The second winner in 2015 was Steven Inch from Biggin Hill.   Soon after gaining his PPL, he applied to join the Royal Air Force and was accepted for training.  He completed his basic training at the RAF College Cranwell last year and has recently been streamed for fast jet training with a posting to RAF Lynton-on-Ouse to fly the Tucano.


Alina Davidson, widow of the late Nick Davidson, says that she is thrilled with the ambitions and achievements of the first two Nick Davidson Flying Scholars which has encouraged her to continue the sponsorship funding in 2017 and 2018.

“The amazing results from these two scholarships meet in full the concept that my husband Nick planned with such care before he died.  I wish to record my thanks to Nick’s great friend Gary Merchant who has so faithfully and successfully created the scheme which is now a registered charity.  Nick would be so proud – and this is why I am very happy to continue, hopefully with our wonderfully supportive co-sponsors” says Alina.

Jack Hawkins will be living in Biggin Hill village while he undertakes his training at the airport.  He will be based part-time in the Media Centre during the Festival of Flight on 19th & 20th August where he will be available for interview.