Aviation milestone for Des Gyde

06 Jan 2022

For Mercury Bay RSA welfare officer and Whitianga resident, Des Gyde, Saturday last week was more than the first day of 2022. It was also the day he flew 1,000 hours as a recreational pilot.

Des flew solo in August 1970, when he was 16 years old. Following school, he joined the New Zealand Air Force where he qualified as a safety and surface technician. After six years as a technician, Des spent 14 years as air crew on Air Force helicopters and fixed wing aircraft before focusing on aviation medicine during his last two years as an active member of the New Zealand armed forces. 

“During my time in the New Zealand Air Force, I didn’t fly as a pilot,” said Des. “In 1995, my wife and I moved to Whitianga where I became the first manager of the Whitianga Marina. I joined the Mercury Bay Aero Club at the time and took up recreational flying again. I’ve done a lot of hours as pilot-in-command since then.”

Des reached his 1,000 hour milestone on the way back from Te Kowhai airfield outside Huntly, where he picked up Dave Homewood, editor of the New Zealand Sport Flying NZ magazine and coordinator of the online Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum. Having worked in the same Air Force trade, although several years apart, Des and Dave met each other through online interest groups and became good friends. Des invited Dave, who’s living in the Waikato, to Whitianga for the first weekend of the New Year to spend time with him and his family, and other aviation enthusiasts.

“I suspected I was going to reach 1,000 hours coming back to Whitianga, although it was going to be close,” said Des. “When Dave and I were within sight of the Whitianga airfield, I realised I may have to go a bit further out over the Bay before commencing my final approach in order to win a few minutes. That’s exactly what I did and it worked out perfectly. When MBB (the aircraft Des flew on the day) touched down, I had exactly 1,000 hours on the clock. It was a great entry to make in my logbook and the best way imaginable to start the New Year.”

Pictured: Des (left) and Mike at MBB after their arrival in Whitianga on Saturday.