Member Story - Tony Unwin
They say that you can’t keep a good man down.

Maybe because I was born during the war uniforms have been a significant part of my life.  Everyone was wearing one around London in the early Forties, military of course but also fire service and nurses and even the butchers had stripped aprons and straw hats.  My first one was a maroon blazer and grey shorts. Considering the UK temperatures it was surprising that I happily stayed in shorts until I was aware of girlish giggles impacting on my dress code.
Leaving school I was directed towards the Royal Air Force because my mother liked the uniform, being only 17 I found it impossible to have the maturity to be accepted as an officer and although I passed all the aptitude tests for flight training there was no way they wanted me when I didn’t know that only dry Martini came as an aperitif and the sweet variety was for later.
I did however take to aviation and found myself in the parachute regiment relishing the feel of slipstream and the smell of turbines burning kerosene.  This led me to sport parachuting and freefalling out of all sorts of aircraft into small display arenas on canopies with marginal controls.  When it was too windy to jump I started to take lessons to fly the aircraft that we jumped from and indeed it was not long before I was piloting the jump-ships myself.
Time passed and my career moved into the new dynamic world of computing, if you could spell it you could get a job as a programmer; that was proved by my success.  I was financially rewarded sufficiently and with convention married, bought a house etc.  To maintain my addiction I carried on flying and skydiving at every opportunity.  My wife could see the imbalance and so we sold the house and invested in a commercial pilot training course, I think she liked the uniforms!  
Commercial flying has some slippery steps at the bottom of the career ladder and I first became an airborne photographer, flying with my knees whilst framing individual houses into pictures for resale.  This low level operation was an invitation for prosecution and I was delighted to move on to a start-up Air Taxi company with one aircraft a muddy grass airfield and a caravan for home.  I did get a uniform.
Survival as a single pilot in all weathers throughout Europe with basic navigation and no back-up creates experience which in turn led to bigger aircraft and wider horizons.  I travelled the world as a First Officer on a DC8 jet freighter before joining Saudi Arabian Airlines to fly TriStar airliners from a base in Jeddah.  My wife worked as a radiographer in a hospital in Riyadh and commuted on the Company shuttle flights at the weekend.  Somewhere in this busy schedule we found time to produce a daughter who collected air miles from the day she was born!
I transferred to Boeing 747 and flew the long flights West to New York and East to Korea both of which spanned many time-zones and lasted some 12hours.  Relief came with a Captaincy on the B737 short haul aircraft.
Promotion opened doors back in the UK and so I was able to spend 15years flying  from Bristol with both Airbus and Boeing on short haul holiday charters.  I maintained my light aircraft interests throughout and around 1990, having flown over 100 different types, including several gliders, I started to fly and instruct on gyroplanes.

Gyrocopter 1Retirement is an opportunity.  We used it to seek a warmer climate in a civilised English speaking environment and found New Zealand.  My particular skills opened the door to residency and Tauranga offered an ideal setting for a light aviation business based on a mix of tourism and local enthusiasts.
Modern gyroplanes are the safest design of aircraft known to man and are now produced in stringent factory conditions to a high quality.  I have been instrumental in expanding their use throughout this Country and each year we import the latest designs from Europe.  My unique company is now a well established attraction at the City Airport and provides flight training and tourist flights throughout the year.  No doubt my next retirement will be another opportunity!