Staff celebrate 65 years long service at Norwich Airport

Two long serving members of staff at Norwich Airport are being honoured for reaching their all-important career milestones, racking up 65 years between them. 

Fuel inspector Michael Hughes has clocked up an impressive 35 years, while Deputy Fire Service Manager Karl Hendry is celebrating 30 years in the job (both pictured). 

The two longstanding employees are being presented with commemorative letters in recognition of their decades of commitment and hard work. 

Michael and Karl have been reflecting on their working lives at Norwich Airport, owned by Regional & City Airports (RCA) which is part of the Rigby Group. 

Michael Hughes, 59, started out as a baggage handler in 1987 and has worked his way up to becoming a Quality Assurance fuel inspector. Michael, who served in the RAF for seven years, is also one of Norwich Airport’s on-site trainers, often travelling the country to help inspire the next generation of aircraft engineers. 

Michael said: “I do absolutely love this job. For me, it’s being outside and just being involved with the aircraft that’s one of the best aspects but there’s also lots of variety. There are always new challenges and there are some days when you just don’t know what to expect.” 

One of the key moments of Michael’s career came when he single-handedly put out a fire on stationary plane after noticing black smoke billowing out. He was given a special reward for his quick thinking. 

Such incidents are rare, however, and Michael, a self-confessed ‘plane buff’ says the most enjoyable aspect of his varied role at Norwich Airport has been to indulge his passion for aviation. 

He used to help marshal the planes at the former Norwich Airshow back in the late 1980s and was involved in a complex training session at the airport involving a helicopter working for Eastern Electricity as it carried underslung loads of power poles and generators. 

“I’m still that 20-something year old with the same enthusiasm for it all,” said father-of-two Michael, who plans to put in a few more years on the job yet. “I know I’ve been lucky,” he added.

“When I’m out there, I think to myself that are people out there who would give their right arm to be stood here, doing what I’m doing.” 

Firefighter Karl Hendry has been based at Norwich Airport for 30 years after joining the service to follow in his dad Brian’s footsteps. 

Karl, now the airport’s Deputy Fire Service Manager and Watch Commander, has dealt with his fair share of incidents over the years – thankfully none of them too major. 

The list includes field fires caused by hot weather and a fire in an aircraft hangar.  

In addition, Karl, 51, has taken part in charity aircraft pulls along the runway and had to be on standby when Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and the team from hit television series Top Gear filmed a stunt involving an airship and a caravan. 

Karl said he still enjoys coming to work and is happy to muck in with the routine jobs. “I wouldn’t ask my team to do something I wouldn’t do myself,” said Karl, adding that biggest change he’s seen has been the technology on the vehicles. Back when I started, it was all levers and buttons on the controls and now it’s all computerised. But you adapt and get used to it. You’re learning all the time.” 

Karl, a keen metal detectorist, is hoping to carry on in his role for ‘as long as he’s physically able’ before retiring and spending more time with his family and his beloved German Shepherd, Murphy. 

Richard Pace, Managing Director at Norwich Airport, said: “To reach these long service milestones of 35 and 30 years respectively is very impressive. While it’s a fantastic achievement for both Michael and Karl, they should be incredibly proud of the contributions that they have made.

“I want to personally thank them for all their hard work and their commitment to Norwich Airport for more than three decades. Without a dedicated team here, including people like Michael and Karl, the airport simply could not operate, and we grateful for everything they have done and continue to do.”

For more information about Norwich Airport visit www.norwichairport.co.uk