Two Air National pilots who grappled at knifepoint with an alleged woman hijacker were last night presented with the Polaris Award for heroism.

Somali woman Asha Ali Abdille, 33, from Blenheim, is accused of pulling the knife during a Christchurch-bound flight last year. Police said she claimed to have two bombs in her luggage and demanded to be flown to Australia.

The pilot in command of that flight, Captain Dion McMillan, accepted the award on behalf co-pilot Ross Haverfield who did not attend the black-tie dinner at SkyCity Convention Centre, part of a week-long convention of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Association.

Airborne above the South Island in February last year, McMillan issued a mayday call and advised the control tower at Christchurch of a hijacking. The pilots landed the plane at Christchurch then, after passengers were evacuated through a rear door, McMillan and Haverfield confronted the woman.

During a scuffle, Haverfield received a knife wound on the foot and McMillan received a serious wound to his hand. McMillan is now back flying after several months off work.

"The movement's good but there's still not much feeling left," he said yesterday.

He couldn't speak about the incident because of a looming court case.