Gary Rickard

Liverymen of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots Award

On 23rd October 2019 Cornish aviator Gary Rickard, son of Ken and June Rickard  of St.Dennis, had his significant contribution to aviation recognised by being awarded with the Livery of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots thus becoming one of a limited number of 600 Liverymen. A requirement of taking the Livery is to receive the Freedom of the City of London. The objectives of the Company include to establish and maintain the highest standards of air safety, legislation and consultation. Although one of the youngest of London’s professional guilds, it is the largest and only one with international branches. Gary was recommended by his peers in the Hong Kong branch of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots.

The Freedom was granted at an informal ceremony held at the Chamberlain’s Court at the Guildhall. The ceremony included taking the oath, signing the ledger ( described as  the world’s best autograph book as everybody who is anybody has signed it), and receiving the certificate.

The livery was presented on the following day, 24th October, in the crypt of the Guildhall. The presentation was made by the Master of Honourable Company of Air Pilots, Malcolm White OBE. This was followed by a reception and a banquet in the Guildhall which was the annual Trophies and Awards banquet at which new Liverymen were presented. After the banquet, there was a 'stirrup cup' period to mingle and catch up with long lost friends. Photographs taken included one with the obligatory sheep (freemen are allowed to drive their sheep over London Bridge) and another with Gary standing by the certificates of Admiral Nelson, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.

The Guard was provided by the Honourable Artillery Company in period uniforms from 1640

Gary Rickard Award
Photo copyright © Gary Rickard

Gary receiving his award from the Master of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, Malcolm White OBE in in the crypt of the London Guildhall on 24th October 2019.

In the background is clerk of the HonCAP, Paul Tacon.


Gary's Career

Gary’s flying career started when, as a Flight Sergeant with Newquay Air Cadets he was awarded an RAF flying scholarship which led to the award of his Private Pilot’s Licence at Compton Abbas airfield in Dorset at the age of 17.
At Bodmin airfield, he put this to good use flying as often as he could afford.

At the ripe old age of 18, Gary joined the Royal Navy. Officer training at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth was followed by pilot training at RAF Leeming then subsequently RNAS Culdrose for helicopter training. Now qualified on the Sea King, service followed on HM Ships Illustrious and Hermes plus the rather more comfortable Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Fort Austin, Olna and Olmeda. Deployments included the South Atlantic, USA, Caribbean, Mediterranean and some time inside the Arctic Circle in the Barents Sea.

Gary also went to the Falklands as a Seaking pilot and electronic warfare officer.

1985 saw Gary selected to be a flying instructor and that was the last he was to see of helicopter flying. After instructor training at the Central Flying School, RAF Scampton, he instructed on Bulldog aircraft at the Royal Navy Elementary Flying Training Squadron, based at RAF Topcliffe, North Yorkshire. He went on to fly a varied mix of fixed wing aircraft including the Jet Provost, Hawk, De Havilland Devon and Canberra.

Gary eventually left the Navy in 1990 after eleven years service.
He taught at a commercial pilot school at Canfield, Beds for two years, taught Royal Saudi Air Force pilot students at the Saudi Air Academy in Riyadh for a further two years but eventually he decided it was time to get a real job and join the airlines.

His first airline job in 1995, was flying the BAC 1-11 for a little known company called European AirCharter. Based at Stansted and Luton and having joined at a time of expansion, Gary quickly achieved his first airliner command.

In 1997 he joined Cathay Pacific to fly the Boeing 747. He has been there for the 22 years since, having flown the Boeing 747-200 (on which he was a type examiner and trainer), the 747-400 and more recently, the new ‘Jumbo’, the 447 tonne 747-8F.  As Gary says ‘I’ve been on lighter ships!’. 
Gary & his wife live in Hong Kong