LOVE AT FIRST ‘FLIGHT’ – A TOP GUN ROMANCE
7 June 2017 – Husband and wife pilots, Henry and Hayley Brewis, landed on cloud nine when they took to the skies to celebrate a very special day.
The couple, who are captains for Thomson Airways, piloted the Boeing 737 flight from Stansted airport to Ibiza on their twenty-seventh wedding anniversary.
Unbeknown to his wife, romantic Henry worked with the airline to rearrange their timetables so the pair could fly together, surprising unsuspecting Hayley in the cockpit on-board the aircraft before take-off.
Henry says: “We spend our anniversary together every year, but a clash in our flying schedules meant we would be apart.”
During the flight, Henry announced to passengers that he was sharing the cockpit with a very special co-pilot – his wife!
Shocked Hayley comments: “I don’t know how he managed to keep it a secret – it was a lovely surprise and the perfect way to mark our special day.”
In a story reminiscent of 1980s movie classic Top Gun, the couple met at a Norfolk-based flying school when Henry was Hayley’s flying instructor. It was love at first ‘flight’ for the pair, who married a year later on 2nd June 1990 after a whirlwind romance.
Hayley recounts: “I was training to gain my Commercial Pilot’s License and was offered the choice of two instructors – I chose Henry purely as I liked the name. Three days after meeting him, I knew he was the one – we just clicked!”
Henry added: “It’s a good thing Hayley liked my name otherwise my life would have been very different – I’m so glad she picked me!”
A career in aviation has always been Henry’s dream. Having qualified as a pilot in 1985, Henry joined Britannia Airways in 1987, which later became Thomson Airways. It’s a passion he shares with his older brother Tom, who is also a captain for the airline and joined the same year.
However, as a child Hayley had a different ambition. “From the age ten I dreamed of becoming a vet, a career path I eventually followed for a decade, beginning in small animal practices before joining the State Veterinary Service”, she says.
The qualified vet caught the flying bug after taking a glider lesson on a whim and became hooked. After gaining her Private Pilot’s License (PPL), Hayley spent all of her spare time in the air, before swapping hobby for career. She was lucky enough to be sponsored by Britannia Airways and after a brief spell as an executive jet pilot joined the airline as a Second Officer in 1997.
The couple, who have two daughters aged 23 and 17, have together clocked up a total of 31,000 hours.
It’s not the first time the duo has flown together, and although it’s becoming less frequent now that they are both captains, Henry says “there is nothing better than flying with my best friend and sharing our joint passion.”
In-between flying Thomson Airways’ Boeing 737 series to short and mid-haul destinations such as Ibiza, Tenerife and Cyprus, the pair are keen runners, recently taking part in the Geneva Marathon.
The aviation enthusiasts have also created a small runway on the land next to their home, outside of Bury St Edmunds, for their small four-seater aircraft which they fly “for fun” together on their days off.