An Isle of Man Loganair pilot has flown his last flight at the age of 65, retiring after 40 years in the job.

Stephen Thursfield landed at Ronaldsway Airport after his final flight from Liverpool on March 18, 2024 - joined on his journey by first officer Macalan Paterson, cabin crew manager Carolyn White and cabin crew member Molly Bentham.

Celebrated by a water cannon salute, Stephen was greeted on the ground by his wife, Penny, along with wider family and friends – including his newest one-week-old granddaughter Freya. Also there to greet him was the recently qualified Loganair first officer Joe Haddock, a 26 year old from Laxey who will be ‘picking up the baton’ from Stephen following his retirement.

A spokesperson from Loganair said: ‘Joe becomes the latest Isle of Man resident to join the Loganair team. He first met Stephen seven years ago when Joe was working as a dispatcher at Ronaldsway. ‘The local team is prepared to continue Stephen’s passion for connecting the island with the mainland for years to come.’ Becoming a pilot 40 years ago, Stephen developed a passion for flying while taking photos from the sky. A photographer for Leicestershire Museums, he would be flown in vintage aircraft’s to collect arial images. Stephen then ‘fell in love’ with flying and decided to train to become a pilot. During his career, he has flown vintage aircrafts to display shows across Europe, transported post to remote island communities and delivered French footballers to their games before returning them home again.

Ian Hutchison, Loganair’s new Isle of Man base captain, with Stephen Thursfield and Joe Haddock
Ian Hutchison, Loganair’s new Isle of Man base captain, with Stephen Thursfield and Joe Haddock (Loganair)

During retirement, Stephen plans to travel around Europe on his motorbike and take more photos across the Isle of Man for his photograph collection.

Speaking about his retirement, Stephen said: ‘I still feel like the new boy taking off to the skies every day, so I can’t quite believe that I’ve touched down at Ronaldsway Airport for the last time.

‘Flying has been more than a career for me and over the last 40 years, I find myself lucky enough to say that I have had the time of my life flying all over the UK and beyond, in so many different aircraft’s and in such varied roles. ‘It has been an honour to help mentor new recruits like Joe and lead our local team on the island, and I wish them all the best as they take over and support the people of the Isle of Man for years to come.’

Maurice Boyle, chief operations officer at Loganair, said: ‘40 years of flying – what an achievement!

‘Stephen is an incredible role model for all of our new recruits and will be missed by staff and passengers alike. We wish him all the best for the future and thank him for his years in service for Loganair and more generally across the flying community. He is an inspiration to many.’

Tim Crookall, Department of Infrastructure Minister, said: ‘We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Steve for his unwavering service and dedication to the island over the years.

Stephen Thursfield with Loganair First Officer, Joe Haddock
Stephen Thursfield with Loganair First Officer, Joe Haddock (Loganair)

‘With certainty, we believe that his energy and enthusiasm will continue to enrich our community and inspire those fortunate enough to know him.’ Loganair flies from Isle of Man direct to Birmingham, London City, Heathrow, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newquay. The airline recently announced an enhanced 2024 summer schedule from Ronaldsway Airport, with greater connectivity across its services to Heathrow, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Birmingham.

The spokesperson from Loganair said: ‘Isle of Man’s important London Heathrow connection will see a boost this summer with a new earlier arrival time into Heathrow, opening up a much wider range of same-day flight connections to North America.

‘The daily Heathrow service will now leave the Isle of Man at 9.45am and arrive at London Heathrow Terminal 2 at 11:20am, which means connections to the likes of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Seattle are now possible.’