AIRCRAFT engineer Gerry Athorne was hailed a “legend” as the 75-year-old retired after 48 years working at a private aviation company at Leeds Bradford Airport.
Mr Athorne has bowed out from his role in charge of Multiflight’s engine shop at the company’s site at the Yeadon airport.
Grandfather Mr Athorne, who grew up in Kirkstall and went to Intake Secondary Modern School at Bramley, joined the RAF aged 16 in October 1957 and spent 12 years working as an aircraft engineer.
He served with 617 Squadron at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire; 38 Squadron in Malta and 543 Squadron at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire.
He worked on the engines of aircraft including Vulcans, Victors and Shackletons.
After leaving the RAF, Mr Athorne started work as an engine fitter at Yorkshire Light Aircraft at Leeds Bradford Airport in April 1969 and became chief engineer in 1998.
When Yorkshire private aviation company Multiflight acquired Yorkshire Light Aircraft in March 2000, Mr Athorne took charge of the engine shop.
Mr Athorne, said: “I have always loved engines and when I joined the Royal Air Force as a boy entrant at 16 it was the natural choice for me.
“During my time at Leeds Bradford Airport I have seen tremendous changes; expansion of the airport, the runway, Multiflight and its private aviation facilities.”
He added: “I have enjoyed every minute of it, that’s why I have been so long doing it. I have worked with great blokes.”
Mr Athorne may be retired but will never be too far away from his old job and the aircraft he helped maintain.
For 30 years he and his wife Janet, 73, have lived at Otley Chevin, which overlooks the runway at Leeds Bradford Airport.
Mr Athorne said he can “almost touch” the aircraft flying over the couple’s home.
Steve Borrowdale, Multiflight’s managing director, said: “Gerry is a real one-off, a legend and a tremendous aircraft engine knowledge-bank.
“We have been extremely blessed to have him working with us for so many years and value the huge contribution he has made, example he has set and the knowledge he has shared.
“We wish him all the very best for his retirement.”
Multiflight’s management and staff presented Mr Athorne with retrirement gifts on his on final day with the company on Wednesday.
Mr Athorne hasn’t ruled lout out popping back into Multiflight though and told ghis former colleaguesd that he is always on hand if needed.