Selwyn pilot wins major award

by Mike Isle

Weedon-based pilot and aviation company owner, Mark Watson, has taken out one of the major awards at this year’s prestigious Director of Civil Aviation Awards for what the judging panel describes as his pragmatic and safety-focussed methodology.

Mark who has tested a countless number of pilots in his 20 years as examiner and trainer and has flown upwards of 24,000 hours himself, has made it his mission to help bring budding commercial pilots and flight instructors to the highest standards possible.

In presenting the award, the judging panel described Mark as “[a] greatly respected professional within the fabric of New Zealand flight training.”

Nevertheless, from Mark’s point of view, the award still comes as something of a surprise.

“It was not expected and certainly wasn’t one I worked toward, so it came as a very pleasant surprise and an honour.”

Mark started his aviation company, Wyndon Aviation, in 1983. 

Throughout his career, he has flown many different types type of medium-sized aircraft including fixed wing and helicopters. That included a stint flying Boeing 737s for Virgin Australia.

Since starting Wyndon Aviation, he has focussed mainly on helicopters and that, he says, involves a wide range of services — among them scenic flights, high country adventures, flight training and executive charter. Mark is on call for firefighting services.

It also allows him to combine two of his passions — flying and hunting and fishing in the high country.
Mark has a third passion — farming. Moreover, it is from a farm in Weedon that he and his partner, Lynda Harrap (also an accomplished pilot), operate Wyndon Aviation. The company has its own airstrip and hanger on the farm.

The Director of Civil Aviation Awards are presented each year to those who have in the opinion of the judging panel, “have made an outstanding contribution to aviation safety in New Zealand and are an inspiration for the industry.”

Mark Watson is one of three award recipients this year.