If merely judged on the 154 types of powered aircraft and 170 types of glider that he had flown, Derek Piggott, who passed away a few days ago aged 96, can be rated as a remarkable pilot. If it had wings, he flew it: from the Bristol Boxkite to four-engined bombers and jets. However Derek Piggott is best known throughout the world as a glider pilot and instructor. While working as a stunt pilot for films, he probably exceeded the nine lives traditionally attributed to cats, surviving through his flying skills and an ability to think quickly under pressure.
Derek was regarded as a warm person, keenly interested in anyone who wanted to fly. He took immense trouble with his pupils and had huge patience in diagnosing faults and explaining techniques. In 1987 Derek Piggott was awarded the MBE for services to gliding. In 2007 the Royal Aero Club awarded him their Gold Medal – the highest award for aviation in the UK. Also in 2007 the Royal Aeronautical Society appointed Derek Piggott an Honorary Companion of the Society. In 2008 he was awarded the Lilienthal Gliding Medal by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for outstanding service over many years to the sport of gliding. He continued flying up to his 90th birthday, and regularly thereafter but no longer as pilot in command. He was fiercely independent, still drove and visited (and flew) recently at Lasham.
A full obituary will be published in Sailplane and Gliding magazine.