A very special 80th birthday wish came true for former-pilot David Turner when he had the chance to sit in the flight deck of a commercial aircraft once again with the help of TUI. 

David lives at a Dorset House care home in Poole, which is part of the not-for-profit Care South charity, and he proudly displayed his pilot epaulettes when he arrived at Bournemouth Airport to fulfil his birthday wish joined by his daughter Kristeen and Dorset House Activities Lead Sam Baker. David was a pilot in the Royal Air Force for 20 years, spent 15 years as a commercial airline Captain and then 19 years training the next generation of pilots before retiring at 75.  

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 proud daughter, Kirsteen, was thrilled to see her dad being able to re-live his dream of sitting up front in the pilot’s seat.  

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. He loved every second of the experience,” said Kristeen.  

Sam Baker, Activities Lead at Dorset House, contacted TUI to see if it was possible to make David’s wish become a reality.    
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” said Sam.  

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 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. You could tell it all came flooding back to him so quickly when he came into the flight deck, he just enjoyed sitting in the environment, although he did comment that he couldn’t remember how small it was,” said Captain Griffin. 

Steve Gill, Managing Director of Bournemouth Airport, 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.