Gary Young continues to soar ...

Gary Young sits proudly on his newly built virtual pipe organ at his home in Thornton.
Gary Young sits proudly on his newly built virtual pipe organ at his home in Thornton. Francis Witsenhuysen

A SKILLED engineer, musician, entrepreneur, pilot and now lavender farmer, Gary Young may just be the epitome of a refined gentleman.

And although his life achievements are long and vast, the Thornton local said he has never been busier since retiring.

At age 16, Mr Young made the bold choice to follow his dreams of becoming a pilot for the Australian Defence Force, but when disaster struck with a family tragedy, his mother had different ideas.

"She let me be screen- tested and I passed the aptitude test, but then my uncle who was a pilot died in a plane crash, so Mum said I couldn't go any further,” he said.

"I was pretty upset.”

But Mr Young was determined and went onto to get his pilot's licence in 1967, making this year his 50th year as a pilot.

Meeting Sir Richard Branson in 1993 was a pinnacle moment in his life.

"We caught up in England, I had the foresight of telling him how I wanted to run a charter around Queensland and he agreed this is what Australia needed. Then he brought Virgin into Australia,” he said.

With more than 25 years experience in aviation, he ran, managed and was a pilot for his own charter flight business in the early 1990s.

"I had a multi-engine plane which I used for chartering all around Queensland and Northern New South Wales,” he said.

A LONG LOVE: Gary and Anne about to go for a joy flight from Archerfiield Airfield in a DeHavillan Auster aircraft.
A LONG LOVE: Gary and Anne about to go for a joy flight from Archerfiield Airfield in a DeHavillan Auster aircraft. Photo Contributed

Mr Young then went onto develop a school called Flight Training Australia, based at Archerfield Airport which became Queensland's largest commercial international flying training school.

"If anyone wants to become a pilot, start young and the sky's the limit,” he said.

Following in his father's footsteps, his son quickly developed a passion for flying early and became the youngest in Queensland to get his Duke of Edinburgh gold award for flying.

"He also became the youngest First Officer for Qantas at age 21. He's still a chief pilot of QantasLink,” Mr Young said.

Originally from Brisbane, he was educated and began his many different callings there.

Born on September 28, 1945, in Brisbane, he went to Morningside State School and then onto Balmoral High School.

Higher education was to become a regular part of his life as he tried his hand in the fields of science, media and aviation.

"I started engineering at uni at the then Brisbane Technical College, after that I became a cadet engineer with the Southern Electric Authority,” he said.

"Halfway through I switched to industrial chemistry and became the head coal analysts at the Balmoral Power Station.”

Mr Young said he will never forget meeting his wife Anne in the playground at primary school.

"We used to run around together,” he said.

"Then we caught up again at our Morningside School 75-year reunion, the rest is history.”

Another experience he will never forget was being a recipient as a Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, UK in 2005.

The same year he was awarded Freeman of the City of London

With a rich musical background Mr Young began playing the piano at age eight which led him to learn to seriously play the organ in his late teens.

He went on to study at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and has since been a repetiteur for the Australian Opera and Queensland Lyric Opera Companies and also for Musical Operetta companies.

In 2014 he helped develop and became choirmaster of the Lockyer Valley's Something to Sing About Choir, with the established group recently winning the 2017 Lockyer Valley Arts and Cultural Australia Day Award.

"Helping its formation, building a repertoire and seeing member's happiness from it, is very satisfying,” he said.

"I also conduct the Queensland Masonic Choir and am a Relief church organist in Brisbane.

"I love playing the organ, and have just built my own virtual pipe organ, which not too many people have.”

The Youngs decided to move to the Lockyer Valley after coming to Laidley for a picnic in the park in 2003.

"We went for a drive to see this property and we fell in love with it,” he said.

Over the past six years the Youngs have developed their Holmwood Produce Lavender Farm at Thornton. You can catch them monthly at the Mulgowie markets.

Mr Young is vice- president of the Australian Lavender Growers Association and has been busy organising the National Lavender conference to be held in Gatton in May/June 2017.

Topics:  choir gary young lockyer valley pilot thornton

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