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Gillingham Award: John Rollin Stott

September 03, 2021

Gillingham Award: John Rollin Stott

This award was established and sponsored by the AMST Group of Companies in Austria and the United Kingdom to honor the memory of Kent K. Gillingham, M.D., Ph.D. The award is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution in the field of spatial disorientation and situational awareness related to flight.

John R. Rollin Stott, M.A., M.B.B.Chir., MRCP, D.Av.Med., is honored posthumously with the Kent K. Gillingham Award based on his significant contributions to ground-based pilot spatial disorientation (SD) training for the UK and NATO. He was recognized as an international expert on situation awareness (SA) and SD issues at the highest levels for over 30 years. He was a highly respected accident investigator for the UK and identified lapses in SA and SD that resulted in military and general aviation mishaps. His contributions saved lives.
   Dr. Stott was renowned in the field of human perception mishaps in aviation. He helped develop ground-based and in-flight SD training for pilots. He helped draft the landmark NATO Technical Report “Spatial Disorientation Training: Demonstration and Avoidance.” He was the author of two chapters in the standard reference in aerospace medicine, “Ernsting’s Aviation and Space Medicine”. Early in his career, while working with Dr. Alan Benson at the Institute of Aviation Medicine, he helped revise the now universally accepted theory of spatial disorientation in aviation. More recently he improved the human perception model of spatial orientation, noted in U.S. Army Aeromedical Lab report “Understanding of a Key Aspect of Situation Awareness.” Working with Col. (Ret.) Dr. Geoffrey McCarthy (USAF) in the Hunter aircraft, he proved the Inversion Illusion and wrote a computer program to illustrate the actual sensations on the vestibular organs. He later developed a syllabus of in-flight illusions for demonstration to pilots. More recently collected numerous pilots’ experiences of spatial disorientation, from which he concluded that teaching SDO as named illusions was not helpful to pilots, who experienced them as confusing situations. He was one of the first invited contributors to the new, online journal, Extreme Physiology and Medicine. He was called upon to investigate numerous military and general aviation mishaps. Two notable Boards he served on included the Morecambe Bay helicopter crash in 2006 and the Gulf Air crash of 2000.
   Dr. Stott qualified in medicine from Cambridge University, receiving his B.A. in 1960 and his M.B.B.Chir. in 1963. He studied engineering applied to medicine at Imperial College, London in 1979. After a variety of hospital appointments, he joined the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine, Farnborough, working on the effects of motion on man; in particular, spatial disorientation in flight, airsickness in trainee aircrew, and the effects of whole body vibration. He also worked as a trusted expert for QinetiQ plc and was an Honorary Senior Lecturer at King’s College London. He was awarded his Diploma in Aviation Medicine in 1986. He became a CAA Aeromedical Examiner in 1990 and joined AsMA in 1991.
   Dr. Stott passed away in January 2021 at the age of 82.