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On a wing . . .Author and pilot Guy Clapshaw, standing beside his Percival Proctor Mark One plane and watched by Croydon Aviation Centre officer Rose McMillan (left) and Croydon Aviation Heritage trust member Maeva Smith, displays his latest book ahead of its launch. PHOTO: MARGARET PHILLIPS

BY MARGARET PHILLIPS

Former Air New Zealand pilot and author Guy Clapshaw is hosting a fundraising book launch at the Croydon Aviation Centre.

The book launch is a fundraiser for a new electronic visitor profile tablet for the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre.

The Auckland-based author keeps his plane, a Percival Proctor Mark One, at the Croydon Aviation Centre part-time, and is a frequent visitor to the southern centre.

His latest book, called Tango Echo Alpha, contains recollections of aviation’s glory days when pilots flew with navigators and flight engineers, and passengers dressed up to fly in those magic flying machines, according to the book’s cover.

Mr Clapshaw, formerly of the United Kingdom, flew for the British air force before turning to commercial flying and joining Air New Zealand as a pilot. This latest book, his third, is about his 32 years with the airline.

It seems the book will be popular, if pre-sales are an indication.

“We’ve already sold 821; that’s on pre-order,” Mr Clapshaw said.

Mr Clapshaw was inspired to write after reading books and watching television programmes in the All Creatures Great And Small genre, he said.

He had met a variety of interesting characters during his career.

“There were some brilliant aviators and some real characters,” he said.

One pilot had a wife in one centre and a girlfriend in another. Unfortunately, that story did not end well, he said.

When he joined Air New Zealand it was growing and promotion came quickly, he said. It was not impossible to be a DC8 captain at the age of 26.

His interest in aircraft remained, even though he was retired.

Croydon Aircraft Company owner Colin Smith sourced the Percival Proctor aircraft in Australia for him, he said.

“It was rebuilt here. It took six years to rebuild.”

However, he admitted he was horrified when he first saw the dilapidated plane.

The plane is almost identical to one aviation pioneer Jean Batten flew.

The Mandeville book launch will be the only one in the South Island. Five others will be held in the North Island. It will take place at the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre on October 14, starting at 7pm.

The $40 ticket price includes a copy of the book, refreshments and nibbles.

Tickets are available from the centre.