FINAL FORMATION: US Air Force personnel at Geiger Field US base, Washington in 1963.
FINAL FORMATION: US Air Force personnel at Geiger Field US base, Washington in 1963. Contributed

Air force tech livin' the dream

MOST men in their 70s spend their eighth decade on earth enjoying retirement but Pascal Lunford did not get the memo.

Instead, Mr Lunford is completing the second year of his Bachelor of Aviation degree at CQUniversity Bundaberg campus.

"I got tired of being retired,” Mr Lunford says, with a smile.

Mr Lunford has completed 60 flight hours so far and is enjoying the face-to-face interaction at campus.

"I would have loved to have had this course when I was younger,” he said.

HIGH FLYER: Pascal Lunsford, 76.
HIGH FLYER: Pascal Lunsford, 76. Jim Alouat

It's not the first time the 76-year-old student has come in contact with the aviation industry.

It was during the Cold War when a 20-year-old Mr Lunford signed up with the US Air Force in 1961 to gain some experience in electronics.

Mr Lunford served from 1961-1968 as an airborne weapons control system technician, essentially making sure the missiles and rockets aboard the planes were ready to be used if necessary.

Mr Lunford spent two cold winters in Alaska playing airborne chess with the Russians making sure the jets were ready for action.

"We were protecting the US from an invasion from Russia,” he said.

"The Russians would fly over and see how far they could penetrate into Alaska before we sent aircraft into Russia.”

It was, understandably, a tense time in America with the Bay of Pigs invasion and the assassination of JFK.

"Our pilots would come back with pictures they had taken of the Russians and it was always a photo of a Russian pilot taking a photo of them,” Mr Lunford said.

After his service, Mr Lunford's new skillset took him across the world to Hawaii, where he worked on the Pacific Missile Range Facility before he moved to Australia in 1971, marrying an "Aussie girl”.

Together they ran a computer furniture company in Sydney for more than a decade.

"At that time, they did not have quiet printers so we used to build sound covers for them,” Mr Lunford said.

"That was until the advent of laser printers when the sound level dropped.”

A career with health services across Australia followed where Mr Lunford worked as a dialysis machine technician.

Eventually, a retired Mr Lunford found his way to Bundaberg in 2010 and two years ago, he discovered the aviation course.

"I thought this would be cool,” he

Don't think for a second that Mr Lunford has retirement on his mind.

"I doubt Qantas would let me in the cockpit but there are a lot of jobs in the aeronautical field that I would be qualified for,” he said.

"But my desire is to walk to the cockpit of a Qantas jet with my walker.”



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