The closing ceremony of the 105th FAI General Conference saw three personalities recognised for their achievements and dedication to air sports, with the awarding of the FAI Gold Air Medal by FAI President John Grubbström to British balloonist David Hempleman-Adams and the appointments as FAI Companions of Honour of Willy Arpagaus and Henk Meertens. On this occasion, well-known aviation figure Odette Balesi-Rousseau gave a remarkable speech on the role of the FAI Companions of Honour for which she has a coordinating role.
David Hempleman-Adams has set many world records and completed special flights, far exceeding the performance of any other pilot.
Besides all of these achievements, David Hempleman-Adams broke speed world record flights in Cessna aeroplanes and achieved an aeroplane flight covering the entire length of North and South America.
Aside from being Pilot (CPL with single-, multi-engine and instruments ratings, Aerobatic and Helicopter pilot), Willi Arpagaus has served as President of the local Aviation Club of Geneva (1983 – 1987), President of the regional Aero-Club of Geneva (1988 – 1990) and as President of the Aero-Club of Switzerland (1991 – 1996)
His excellent service to aviation in Switzerland over many years was rewarded when he was presented with the Tissandier diploma in 1999.
Willi Arpagaus' work for the FAI in various capacities dates back more than 20 years. He was an FAI Vice-President for two terms; 1991 – 1996 and 2001 to 2006, and an FAI Executive Board Director from October 2006 - October 2010
Willi Arpagaus was a member of the organisation-committee "100 years FAI" in Lausanne (Switzerland) and has contributed in many ways to the promotion of air sports. He was instrumental in the successful planning of the new FAI Head Office in the Maison du Sport Internationale.
With his management capabilities and his outstanding style of “diplomatic-leadership”, he created not only a Swiss-wide partnership but also brought recognition of the Aeroclub of Switzerland to the entire aviation community.
Henk Meertens has been an FAI Vice-President since 2002 and the Australian delegate to the FAI's CASI from 2003. Since 2007 he has served as the FAI CASI President.
He has been active in air sports since 1980 and served the sport of gliding across many areas. He has also competed at State and National competitions and has been a Competition Director.
His service has been recognised with a number of Awards: - Appointed a Member of the Order of Australia - Awarded the Australian Sports Medal for services to Sport Aviation - Life Membership of the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) for outstanding service to Gliding and the GFA - FAI Paul Tissandier Diploma for outstanding contributions to Sport Aviation - FAI Silver Medal 2009.
In all of the positions that Henk Meertens has held, he has worked tirelessly for the benefit of Gliding and Sport Aviation. In his dealings with Government aviation bodies, he has gained the utmost respect, trust and acknowledgment of his skills. So highly regarded is his expertise and impartiality, that in 2005 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Air Services Australia, the Government agency responsible for airspace and air traffic services in 11 percent of the world’s total airspace. Throughout his involvement in Gliding, Sport Aviation and the FAI, Henk Meertens has demonstrated exceptional leadership and influence not only to the lasting benefit of Australian sport aviation, but to the innumerable international pilots who enjoy the benefits of international competitions.