Royal Navy crash-land pilot Lt Cdr Chris Gotke awarded Air Force Cross
A Royal Navy officer who crash-landed a historic plane at an air show has been awarded the Air Force Cross.
Lt Cdr Chris Gotke, 44, was flying a Sea Fury T20 in an aerobatic display at Culdrose Air Day in Cornwall last July when the plane lost power.
Despite a complete engine failure, the officer, based at Yeovilton, Somerset, managed to land the 1944 fighter.
Staff Sgt Kate Lord, also based at Yeovilton, received a medal for challenging misogyny in Afghanistan.
Lt Cdr Gotke, who joined the Royal Navy as a pilot in 1992, was flying the fighter in front of 21,000 people when it started billowing smoke and rapidly losing altitude.
In a spilt-second, the father-of two, originally from Kent, decided to fly the aircraft to safety rather than parachute out and abandon it.
"It looks a lot more dramatic from the outside than it felt from the inside," he said.
"The safety of the crowd was never a factor because the aircraft was fully controllable."
Commended for preventing "the very real chance of a catastrophic civilian loss of life", Lt Cdr Gotke said he was "shocked and amazed" to receive the medal.
The Sea Fury, one of three or four in the UK, was partly damaged but is due to fly again next year.
'Prove them wrong'
Staff Sgt Kate Lord, 32, from Gateshead, received the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for challenging the "highly misogynistic" views of Afghan soldiers.
Originally deployed to mentor women in the Afghan National Army, a recruitment delay resulted in her being "thrown in the deep end" and mentoring men.
"They were shocked that my husband would let me go to Afghan on my own with lots of men," she said.
"Because I am small they thought I was weak. I then had the challenge of changing and proving them wrong."
Commended for her "infectious enthusiasm", the NCO said receiving the medal was "overwhelming and quite surreal".