Former pilot returns to cockpit on his 80th birthday

Pilot returns to cockpit
By Linsey McNeill
23/02/2024
Home » Former pilot returns to cockpit on his 80th birthday

TUI made an octogenarian’s birthday wish come true by inviting former pilot David Turner to sit in the cockpit of one of its aircraft at Bournemouth Airport.

David, who lives at a Dorset House care home in Poole, was an RAF pilot for 20 years, then spent 15 years as a commercial airline captain before spending 19 years training the next generation of pilots.

Retired for the past five years, it was his wish to return to the cockpit on his 80th birthday.

Dorset House Activities Lead Sam Baker contacted TUI, which made his dream come true.

“I had a fabulous day with fantastic people. I couldn’t have had a better experience. It was wonderful to sit in the captain’s seat once again and have a look around all the controls and switches, which brought back many happy memories of my flying career,” said David.  

His daughter, Kirsteen added:“It was so emotional to see Dad’s face light up when he stepped on the plane, it just meant the world to him.

“He loved talking to the Captain and using the abbreviations and terminology that only another pilot would understand. I am so pleased that TUI and the Dorset House team could make dad’s 80th birthday wish come true.”  

Sam said: “David had a wonderful experience sitting in the cockpit of the plane, where he felt right at home. He always shares so many stories of his time as a pilot, and it was incredible to sit beside him and see him relive those special memories.”

David was joined in the flight deck by TUI Captain Richard Griffin. “It was a real privilege to meet David, as soon as we heard about his birthday wish to sit in the flight deck of a commercial airliner again we knew we had to make it happen for him,” he said.

“He has had such a distinguished career in aviation and it’s not very often you meet people with as much experience as David. 

“Sitting in the cockpit with him was a huge honour – and something I’ll remember for a long time. He’d flown a 747 for a number of years so he was really familiar with the flight deck, so it was great to get him on and hear all of his tips and tricks.”

Bournemouth Airport MD Steve Gill said: “We were only too pleased to help TUI make David’s 80th birthday wish come true and are delighted that he had such a memorable day, meeting a fellow pilot and sitting in an aircraft cockpit once again.”

David was surprised with a TUI plane shaped cake while on board to enjoy with his friends at the Dorset House care home.  

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