Professor Wickens receives UAA’s President’s Award

Professor Christopher Wickens stands between a 737 Boeing Simulator and a General Aviation Trainer 3 Simulator at Willard Airport on Thursday. Ben Cleary

By Kalari Girtley

At the annual University Aviation Association’s Fall Educational Conference on Sept. 29, University professor emeritus Christopher D. Wickens became the first University professor to receive the association’s President’s Award, according to a press release.

The association is an aviation organization that represents more than 600 educators of aviation. They have two 2 to 4-year collegiate institutions that have programs in aviation, and this organization supports government institutions that also have collegiate courses in aviation.

Carolyn Williamson, executive director of the association, said this was the sixth time this award has been given, and the first time for a University professor to receive it.

“A person who receives this award reflects the goals of the UAA, which is to educate through aviation,” Williamson said in a phone interview.

Wickens has been in aviation education for 30 years, and he said he was surprised to receive this award.

“I felt very honored to receive this award because it is both a university association and an aviation association (award),” Wickens said in a phone interview.

He said he was attending the aviation conference to be a speaker, and the president gave him this award at the conference as a surprise.

“A lot of my career has been spent trying to educate students in aviation psychology,” Wickens said. “Because the award acknowledges this contribution, I felt very proud and pleased.”

Virginia Davis, assistant director of the University’s Institute of Aviation, said Wickens was the best recipient of this award.

“He has done a lot to enhance this program … he was really instrumental with getting a degree program for our students,” Davis said in a phone interview.

Wickens retired from the Aviation department in June. He said he is just tying up loose ends before he leaves.

“I am going to move to Colorado, where I can do more research and climb some mountains,” Wickens said.

Davis said he is a wonderful man and their department hates to see him go.

“He is recognized worldwide for his research,” Davis said.

Mary Welborn, an administrative assistant at the Institute of Aviation, said she has known him for 25 years. She said they first met when she was a clerk typist, and since then they have seen many promotions together.

“After 25 years, I will definitely miss him,” Welborn said.

She said this latest award does not surprise her as he is the nicest person and that these awards reflect how hard working he is.

“He is the most fair and supportive boss I have ever had,” Welborn said.