Life member

Honorary Life Membership Award.

Life Membership is the highest Award available to recognise the exceptional and outstanding contributions of individuals to SAFA.

The recipient of Honorary Life Membership has demonstrated significant, sustained and high quality service enhancing the reputation and future of the SAFA sports throughout their SAFA participation career.


The following individuals (and couple) have been awarded SAFA honorary Life Membership.


George Bignell*                              1993

Marg Bignell*                                  1993

John Dickenson                             1993

Bill Moyes                                       1993

Paul Mollison                                  1995

Steve Hocking*                               1998

Nev Akers                                        2003

Craig Worth*                                    2005

Michael Zupanc                               2007

Steve Moyes                                    2007

Rohan Grant                                    2008

Rob Van Der Klooster                     2009

Peter Holloway                                2014

James Thompson                           2019

Mark Pike                                         2019

Rick Williams                                   2021

Ralf Gittfried                                    2021


(* Deceased)





George and Marjorie Bignell*

George and Marg Bignell 1988

Life Membership awarded 1994


The 1991 AGM minutes note that - “the acceptance of George and Marge Bignell’s life membership on an Australia wide basis, joining the likes of Bill Moyes in that well deserved select group. George and Marge were awarded life membership some time ago in WA for their contribution to furthering and encouraging our sport over a period that is longer than most of have been around. I am among the many pilots who have benefitted from their advice and guidance over the years and am delighted that we have been able to finalize this formality.” [ October 1991 Skysailor p.26 ]

Unfortunately the HGFA constitution at the time did not have a life member category - but this was fixed in the 1993 AGM.

1993 AGM MOTION: [M93/40] That John Dickenson, Bill Moyes, and George and Marjory Bignell are confirmed as life members of the HGFA and that the Exec Dir make public recognition of these individuals

Article on George and Marjorie Bignell in Skysailor - January 1988




John Dickenson

john dickensonjohn dickenson 2012 receiving FAI Gold air medal

Life membership awarded 1994


John Dickenson is considered the inventor of the modern hang glider. In the pioneer days of ski-kite towing, John developed a simple structure with a usable control bar based on an image he saw of the Rogallo wing NASA had developed for space capsule atmosphere re-entry.

John’s Rogallo-based design allowed ski-kite pilots to detach from the tow rope and experience free -flight. John patented the A-frame construction of his glider in 1963. John demonstrated his glider at many shows and events.

SAFA recognised John’s great contribution to airsport and awarded life membership in 1994.





Bill Moyes

Bill Moyes 

HGFA Life membership awarded 1994


Bill Moyes began flying in December 1966 and worked with John Dickenson on the first ski wing.

He began building hang glider wings in 1967 including ski­plane, ultralights, gliders and trikes.

Records: Bill set 7 World records and 2 Australian records between 1966 and 1975.

Bill served on CIVL from 1975 until 1986, and was President of the Australian Kite Flyers Club for 3 years,

HGFA President for 2 years and President of the NSW Association (2 years)

List of Awards:

  • 1977 Queen Elizabeth Medal Silver Medal
  • 1978 Russian Aero Club Bronze Medal
  • 1980 Royal Australian Oswald Watt
  • Aero Club Gold Medal
  • 1980 NSW Hall of Champions Plaque
  • 1982 NSW Government Advance Australia Award
  • 1983 C.I.V.L. Diploma of Honour
  • 1992 Australian Sports Associate Hall of Fame Member
  • 1995 NASA Space Technology Hall of Fame
  • 1995 Smithsonian Institute Invention Award
  • 1998 Medal of the Order of Australia OAM




Paul Mollison

paul mollison 1991

Life membership awarded 1995


“Highlight of the night was Paul Mollison receiving HGFA Life Membership as a token of thanks for the many years of volunteer work he has selflessly given our association. No one person has contributed as much as Paul in the development of the HGFA . He not only has been instrumental in developing competition scoring systems and rules which have gained international respect, but also in many other areas of HGFA administration, including our current Operations Manual, the HGFA Development Plan and the HGFA database and computer systems. Thanks again

Mollo - please understand this doesn't mean your future assistance is not welcome!!”

November 2002 Skysailor (pg 38)



Steve Hocking*

Steve Hocking

Life Membership awarded 1998


“… Presentation of HGFA Life Membership to Steve Hocking. For the past 20 years Steve has put an amazing amount of volunteer effort into the administration of both the HGFA and the NSW HGPA.

Steve is one of these blokes that works away tirelessly and quietly in the background and gets little recognition for it. I am proud to be have been acquainted with Steve over the years and I trust that his efforts will continue for years to come.

Thank you Steve - there is no-one more deserving.”


Feb. 2005 Skysailor (pg. 42)



Nev Akers

Nev Akers

Life membership awarded 2003


“Nev has the highest hours in the Cairns Club and I am sure most people who read Skysailor around Australia will recognise him from the many competitions he attends. Nev is the current Treasurer for the Cairns Club and over the years has always held a position in the Executive Committee. Although he is in his late sixties[when written in 2000] he is still fiercely competitive and always does well in our local competitions.” (Ian Graham, Pres. Cairns Hang Gliding Club 2000)

Nev is always organising club BBQ’s and can always be relied on to have the club esky full of cold beer at the end of the day.

Nev’s faithful Falcon panel van has passed the half million kilometre mark and on its third engine as a result of the many hang gliding competitions he attends in the southern states every year – lucky he is a mechanic. Nev is a life member of the Cairns Hang Gliding


[pilot profile in Nov. 2000 Skysailor pg 39]



Craig worth*

 Craig Worth receiving Life membership

Life membership 2005


“Craig Worth received the highest honour the HGFA can offer in recognition of contributions

to the sport and to the organisation of the HGFA. Craig was nominated for Life Membership by the Mid North Coast Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. The Board unanimously agreed that such a tribute should go to the man that has done so much to build the current HGFA organisation.

Craig’s nomination reads as follows:

Craig has been involved in hang gliding for more than 20 years, in varying roles, and is an outstanding contributor to the sport. He has been heavily involved in organising and running local, state, national and international hang gliding events. Craig was instrumental in attracting and successfully staging the first World Hang Gliding Championships to be held in Australia (Bright, 1988). Competitors and officials at the event recognised Craig’s efforts with a standing ovation at the end of the championships.

He has been a pioneer for the establishment of more than 15 launch sites on the Mid North Coast of NSW (from novice coastal launches to world renowned sites such as North Brother Mountain).

Craig’s most recent commitment to the HGFA was through his roles as General Manager and Operations Manager/Safety Officer – all of which he carried out with dedication and enthusiasm.

His efforts over the past 20 years have significantly changed the public perception of our sport and the overall level of safety.

Craig achieved this through conducting media interviews, preparing safety and training manuals, negotiating insurance contracts and dealing with government regulators.

Our sport has now become a more respected and, most importantly, much safer form of aviation than ever before.

Craig has amazing patience and a unique ability to balance dealing with difficult members and bureaucrats.

He is always positive and has constructive comments in response to accident reports – always seeking to improve safety through greater understanding of incidents.

Craig has fought some personal battles of late which have prevented him from flying but his love of the sky hasn’t diminished.

We feel he is a very deserving recipient of Life Membership of the HGFA.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Lelean,

MNC Club President”

[Skysailor Feb 2005 pg40]




Michael Zupanc

michael zupanc2michael zupanc

Life membership awarded 2007


Soaring Australia Dec. 2007 : - 

 “The life membership is the highest award offered by the HGFA. Being awarded life membership means you have contributed significantly to the sport in general and to the HGFA in particular.

The award is not given for moments in time, but rather for multiple contributions of personal time toward HGFA activities. In consideration of the extent to which he has contributed to the sport over many years of involvement, the award of life membership was approved for Michael Zupanc. Those of you who know ‘Zupy’ will agree that he justly deserves this recognition. Zupy has produced much of the CIVL Section 7 sporting code and provided support for HGFA competitions in software development for scoring, acted in the capacity of scorer for many competitions and as a webmaster posted comp results and generally assisted in the maintenance of the HGFA website. Zupy has been a long-standing member of the Competition Committee and of the Board. We hope this award will provide something back from the HGFA over years to come.

Thanks, Zupy, for all you’ve done!”



Steve Moyes

steve moyes

Life membership awarded 2007

“[This] life membership is awarded to Steve Moyes. The name says it all. Steve has contributed to the development of the sport like few others in his long flying career. Steve has competed in all but one World Championship since they started having World championship competitions in hang gliding. His quiet confident nature has seen him to be a constant performer in the Australian Hang Gliding team and mentor to many junior pilots who watch and learn from his skills. Steve has helped to develop the gliders of today and carries on his father’s work now that Bill has moved into the Dragonfly side of the business.

Thank you, Steve, for your solid contribution to the sport over many years.”



Rohan Grant

rohan grant

Life Membership awarded in 2008

Life Membership of the HGFA was awarded to Rohan Grant for all his effort, time and commitment to the HGFA as a Board member for twenty years during which time he held all Board Executive positions and for his long-time commitment as the ASAC Representative for the organization.



 Rob Van Der Klooster

Rob Van der Klooster

Life membership awarded 2009


A member since 1974, Rob Van Der Klooster, was an early member of the Dynasoarers HG club established in 1973 on the West Coast of Victoria. After participating in the running of the second ever Nationals in 1977 at Mt Elephant, was later, in 1983, elected as Competitions Director with the then Victorian Hang Gliding Association to help encourage Victorian representation in, and growth of the National championships competition.

He was meet director for the Buffalo Cross Country Classic in 1986, was involved in running the 1987 pre-worlds followed by the 1988 worlds with Bill Moyes and Craig Worth. He was also heavily involved in the 1998 world championships at Forbes.

The 1988 worlds needed sites in the Bright & Corryong regions. Along with Craig, much personal time, effort and money was spent in the establishment and opening of a large number of new launch sites. These were; Mt Elliot, Mt Mittamatite, Gundowering, Mt Emu, Murmungee, Buckland Gap as well as negotiating the continued use of Myrtleford Hill until completion of the comp.
With the exception of Myrtleford Hill, all these sites have been enjoyed by generations of pilots since.

Rob became a Safety officer and instructor. In 1980 he was a participant in the second course of the HGFA’s newly established Instructor Certification program. Although no longer instructing, he has maintained positions on the VHPA committee almost continuously since that time. He has been VHPA President since 2007 and held positions on the Dynasoarers club for decades, currently as Senior Safety Officer. Since 1992, Rob has attended every bi-annual Australian International Airshow on behalf of HGFA.

With his distinctive personality, Rob, affectionately known as ‘chook’ to all, is memorably ‘ever present’ on sites and other pilot gatherings, providing support to experienced pilots and as the ‘go to guy’ for all new pilots.

A regular ‘Goalie’ at the Forbes Tow competition, International visiting pilots know precisely who to contact when travelling the Victorian region. Throughout the years, on behalf of all members, he has attended numerous Government sports dept meetings, council gatherings, land owner/manager liaisons, site inspections, working bee’s, club and state & HGFA national meetings, and a host of others.

A respected contributor to the sports in Australia.




 Peter Holloway

Peter Holloway


Life membership awarded 2014


Joining in 1975, Peter flew for a decade before family and life took him out of the sport for the next one. Even during his early time, he demonstrated his love for the sport and desire to encourage others to get involved. On his return in 2000 he joined the Melbourne Hang Gliding club, becoming a Safety officer, coach and ultimately a Club Instructor. Always passionate to encourage and support new members, he started his own tow training operation in 2010, regularly running fly-ins to encourage skills development for low airtime, and experienced Hang Glider pilots.

Peter Holloway received a certificate of life membership in recognition of his ongoing participation and contributions to the HGFA/SAFA.



James Thompson

 james thompson

Life membership awarded 2019

For in excess of 15 years ending in 2018 James has organised the NSW State of Origin cross country competition that routinely attracts between 120 and 160 pilots annually from around Australia, New Zealand and international pilots.

These competitions have : -

nurtured low airtime pilots and minority pilots, they have provided an opportunity for advanced pilots to “ give back” to the sport which in turn drives retention of senior pilots

Introduced pilots to the challenges of competition and XC flying.

Furthered the goal of retaining pilots in the sport and the financial viability of the competition.

James is a great ambassador for the sport to new and developing pilots both local and international.

[pilot profile: Sep/Oct 2017 Skysailor pg.31]



Mark Pike


Life membership awarded 2019


Mark Pike has been a continuous member of HGFA since 1982 and has served the sport since 1989. At this time he volunteered treasurer to VHGA (pre VHPA) and has been on the VHPA committee, almost continuously, all but 6 years since.

In 1990 he also took on an additional role as HGFA treasurer.

He served as HGFA treasurer for approximately 6 years, resigning to focus on site development with VHPA after successfully taking HGFA from 'in the Red' to 'Black', having introduced a managed accounts ledger, raised fees, sought other funding avenues and implemented budget processes to ensure HGFA would not continue to face a sudden financial death. He was instrumental in documenting some of the policies as demonstrated in the current MPM and evolved financial control practices.

He has demonstrated significant, sustained and high quality service throughout his HGFA participation career that reflects a dedication to the values of the Sports and aims of HGFA.

He has been the primary events co-ordinator for HGFA participation at every biennial 'Airshows Down under', international airshow held in Victoria since 1992. He has attended and co-hosted each event, organised volunteers, giveaways, access and displays.

As site development officer for VHPA he has been the primary negotiator with Parks Victoria and DELWP since mid-1990's for the Victorian state permit and licence to access flying sites on Parks and state managed crown land. He has negotiated and communicated with several local authorities, and responded to many local and state government surveys and proposed management plans.

He has participated in many site maintenance initiatives and has conducted several long trips to assess potential 'new' sites identified by members, Blue Range, Swifts Creek, Mt Bride etc, and completes site assessments as required by the state-wide Parks Victoria site permit.



Rick Williams


Life membership awarded 2021


Rick qualified as a Hang Glider pilot in 1981 through the Apollo school in Victoria. Prior to that he had experimented with Rogallo Wings in the '70s.

ln 1983, he formed the Swinburne University Hang Gliding Club and helped train many students.

He continued this support for many years until his move to WA in the late '80s. As one of the few Advanced rated pilots in WA at the time, Rick took on the role of Examiner under the new rating system to assist pilots in progressing with their ratings.

Rick quickly became an integral part of the flying community, sharing his experience and encouraging new pilots to advance and stay safe. Rick has been a Senior Safety Officer for many years.

In 1998 he formed the Hill Flyers Club lnc., together with other experienced lots. This club is WA's longest continuously operating club.

Rick was elected President of HGAWA in 2000 and continued in this role until 2008. Since then, he has served continuously as a member of the HGPAWA committee of management. He served as a HGFA board member from 2013- 2016 and is currently serving on the SAFA board as the WA representative.

Some of Rick's notable achievements and involvements include:
- obtaining a letter of agreement for a release of airspace from 3500ft to 10000ft over a 10 nautical mile radius around one of our local Perth sites that is in the Perth VTC 4500' Ctrl airspace,
- development and redevelopment of HG/PG sites in both privately owned and CALM managed in regional and national parks, such as "Shelly's Beach", "Mt Bakewell",
- securing long-term lease agreements (21 years) from the local council and grant money from the Western Australian power utility (Western Power) for one of WA's world-class coastal sites called "Sandpatch" just outside of the town of Albany.
- involved in the negotiation of long-term agreements with other WA local councils to fly various "beach" sites in and around the coastal suburbs of Perth and other areas of WA.



Ralf Gittfried

Ralf Gittfried

Life membership awarded 2021


Having started with hang gliding in 1987, Ralf quickly qualified as a paraglider in 1988, and flying has been an integral part of his life ever since. As he grew his experience and skills over the years, Ralf decided he wanted to contribute more to the free flying sport in Australia. He has volunteered with the NSW Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association Committee for more than 10 years, having held the position of Vice President and Public Officer after spending six years as President. As well as this, Ralf supports several NSW Clubs as a Liaison Officer and is a safety officer supporting pilots at local flying sites helping and mentoring low airtime pilots.

Under his stewardship as President, the NSWHPA initiated & subsequently doubled funding support for programs such as Pilot Development Clinics and Training Programs. He has also driven the securing of sites/landing zones through the introduction of annual landowner agreements.

As an experienced pilot, Ralf enjoys mentoring others to achieve their fullest potential in sports aviation and believes continual learning is an essential aspect of the sport.

"Despite flying for more than 30 years, I still feel that, next to the personal flying experience and skills I have accumulated, flying is an ongoing learning process. We all learn from other pilots, particularly from senior mentors, over time which helps us become better pilots. I feel seeing a young pilot entering the sport and me contributing to their progress is, in fact, very rewarding. I recall some passengers I took once for a Tandem Introduction Flight, and later they decided to take up the sport.”