John Corby has won the prestigious biennial Lawrence Hargrave Award of the Royal Aeronautical Society Australian Division for 2017.
The award recognises an Australian who has made a significant contribution to Australian aviation.
The award was announced at the opening ceremony of the Australian International Airshow and presented by the RAeS Australian Division president John Vincent at the 17th Australian International Aerospace Congress Dinner last night.
The award honours Lawrence Hargrave's experiments with box kites at Stanwell Park near Sydney in the 1890s, which proved to be one of the most significant early developments in aviation.
John Corby was a structures engineer in developing repair schemes and modifications on Qantas aircraft and engines. In 1958, Corby commenced a project to design and build a light aircraft that would be named the ‘Starlet’. The magnitude of the task facing a lone individual was enormous. John Corby undertook this formidable task on his own with little outside assistance.
The Starlet was completed in May 1966 and the first flight was made in August. On 30 June 1972, the Department of Civil Aviation granted the Starlet a full Certificate of Type Approval No. 74-1, identifying the Starlet as an aircraft in the same category as a commercial aircraft.
It is estimated that the number of Starlets built now exceeds 150 and that the aircraft is flying in at least 10 countries.